By on August 5, 2019

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - The Truth About CarsWith minivan sales in decline and the Mercury brand itself locked in a death spiral, the bosses in Dearborn decided to create a Mercury-badged version of the Ford Freestar: the Monterey. No, not this kind of Monterey, which sought slightly devilish middle-managers with a sense of style as potential buyers, but an option-loaded and sensible family hauler for the 21st century.

Sales of the 2004-2007 Monterey started off weak and then bombed miserably, to be followed by the disappearance of Mercury itself by 2011. Here’s a rare example of this forgotten-but-interesting vehicle, found in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

Normally, I put TV commercials for junkyard cars at the end of these posts, but this one shows such optimism and briefly-futuristic-looking technological touchstones (e.g., the Motorola V70 phone, Apple Powerbook Titanium G4) that I think you should watch it and imagine a world in which minivans with satin-finished trim and front-wheel-drive powertrains could be cool.

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, interior - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsRight. So, the Monterey/Freestar offered removable second-row seats, double sliding doors, fold-flat third-row seats, all that stuff that makes minivans so useful. What it didn’t offer was a tough, outdoorsy image, and so the handful of remaining Mercury buyers under 80 years old in 2005 bought cramped, bouncy, fuel-sucking Mariners. Those 80 and older bought the Grand Marquis.

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFord had sorted out most of the mechanical weaknesses of the Windstar/Freestar/Monterey by 2005, so these vans held together pretty well. The optional 4.2-liter Essex V6 was the largest-displacement version ever offered of that long-running engine family, and it made a decent 201 horsepower in 2005. Owners of V6-powered SN95 Mustangs could swap in 4.2s and get cheap, bolt-in power close to that of the 5.0-liter V8s of the SN95 Mustang GTs, but I’ve never heard of this happening.

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, clock - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsOf course I bought the clock for my collection.

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, bumper sticker - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis van appears to have been owned by an acolyte of the Ideals of Love organization. Which makes sense, since minivans can haul plenty of followers and equipment to events.

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, radio - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsVehicles of the late 1990s through middle 2000s often have factory audio systems that can handle both cassettes and CDs. A few years later, the cassette was dead (as far as car manufacturers were concerned).

2005 Mercury Monterey in Colorado wrecking yard, front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsNow this Monterey will go unmourned to its grave, flanked by a Ford Windstar and a Mazda MPV in its final parking spot.

If you like these Junkyard Finds, be sure to check out the page with links to all 1,700 of the discarded vehicles I’ve documented over the years.

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40 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2005 Mercury Monterey...”

  • avatar

    … on this platform the rear axle fell off due to excessive rust.

    • 0 avatar

      Was that similar to the issue I was told plagued the Escort also? Had a 95 Escort wagon and the rear strut mounts had rusted to the point of being quite unsafe. I was lead to believe that the car’s weight was the only thing keeping things “together”. Someone I trusted said it would require new steel welded in to fix the condition.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, the twist beam would break in two, due to metal fatigue and/or rust. The front subframes (cradles) would disintegrate due to rust.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    These were dreadful.

  • avatar

    That’s kind of a late model car to come with a cassette player. I bought an ’02 Focus that came standard with a single CD player, a changer was optional.

    I suppose this is playing to Mercury’s (older) audience.

    • 0 avatar

      Fun fact: the 2010 Lexus SC430 was the last model produced with a factory cassette player.

    • 0 avatar

      I had an ’06 Ranger that had a combo cassette/CD player, so they were still pretty common at the time, at least on Ford products.

      Of course, the Ranger was the bastard stepchild of Ford Trucks at the time, so they didn’t exactly make a point in making sure it was up to date.

    • 0 avatar

      I have no problem with obsolescent tech provided it’s in addition to rather than in place of current tech. The tape player’s a bonus here, even if kids would’ve snickered at it.

      I’ll repeate myself from several Lexus-related threads: Audio books lagged behind music in terms of the tape-to-CD-to-electronic-files shifts. My pet theory is that in retaining cassette players so long, Lexus was doing a service to audio book fans. There probably are positive correlations between age, income, listening to audio books, and Lexus ownership.

    • 0 avatar

      My 02 525i has a cassette deck and 6 stacker cd.

  • avatar

    This Mercury Windstar is exactly where it belongs, in a junkyard. What horrible vehicles they were, rusted to the point of being life-threatening

    • 0 avatar

      Just like many Toyoduh pickups which had such frame rot during this period that the leaf spring mounts would completely separate from the frame. I am so glad you are informed.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s what Toyota got for buying frames from a UAW-contracted supplier called Dana Holding Corp of Ohio who skipped essential production steps. Alternatively, you can buy trucks from UAW-contracted manufacturers and take the element of chance out of whether or not you’ll get a clunker.

      • 0 avatar

        Those were bad as well, but I thought the focus was on this Mercury piece of junk

  • avatar

    Was there any evidence of what condemned these vans? They’re infinitely nicer than thousands I’ve seen plying the barrios.

    • 0 avatar

      I used to work near a taxi stand, and these would come in all the time, usually Freestars. Some of them had over 300,000 miles on them. I am sure what did these in for many is poor maintenance and poor resale value. If someone expensive breaks and its only worth $500, probably not worth fixing.

  • avatar

    I genuinely miss when phones had innovative and futuristic designs like that.

  • avatar

    “Ford had sorted out most of the mechanical weaknesses of the Windstar/Freestar/Monterey by 2005, so these vans held together pretty well.”

    Prove it. These things rusted and fell apart so fast that most didn’t have the chance to cost their owners thousands in powertrain repairs.

  • avatar

    Is 201 HP really “decent” for a mid-oughts 4.2L V6? I mean, the total HP isn’t entirely embarrassing if you ignore the displacement, but a block that massive should have been able to do better.

    • 0 avatar

      The Essex V-6 was about torque not HP.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The 3.8 Essex V6 after MPI was added in the 1988 model year put out 140 hp in most models so the 4.2 with 201 hp was quite good.
      I can see why some Mustang and Taurus aficionados seek them out.

    • 0 avatar

      Re: output, this gen of the Essex V6 dated to 1997, and that power rating actually was pretty good for that time. Re: size, remember that swept volume and actual size of an engine are two different things. Pushrod V6s and V8s have displacements that bely the exterior dimensions of the engine. I suspect that the “smaller” 3.5 and 3.7 Cyclone V6s actually are the larger than the Essexes that preceded them.

      – – –

      “Owners of V6-powered SN95 Mustangs could swap in 4.2s and get cheap, bolt-in power close to that of the 5.0-liter V8s of the SN95 Mustang GTs, but I’ve never heard of this happening.” Converting a transverse V6 for use in a RWD platform doesn’t sound cheap at all.

      I realize FoMoCo made FWD and RWD versions of this engine, but there’s an economy of scale there. Nobody’s going to swap a Mustang EcoBoost into a Focus chassis or vice-versa.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve S.

        “Owners of V6-powered SN95 Mustangs could swap in 4.2s and get cheap, bolt-in power close to that of the 5.0-liter V8s of the SN95 Mustang GTs, but I’ve never heard of this happening.” Converting a transverse V6 for use in a RWD platform doesn’t sound cheap at all.”

        “I realize FoMoCo made FWD and RWD versions of this engine, but there’s an economy of scale there. Nobody’s going to swap a Mustang EcoBoost into a Focus chassis or vice-versa.”

        Hot Rod Magazine did a Mustang SN95 project car with a 4.2, but I’m sure it came from an F150. They also bolted in the “split-port” intake on the original 3.8 from the Windstar/Freestar because it flowed better.

        • 0 avatar

          “They also bolted in the ‘split-port’ intake on the original 3.8 from the Windstar/Freestar because it flowed better.”

          Now stuff like that is interesting.

          I recall reading a message board thread somewhere asking for advice about swapping Lincoln’s FWD V8–I’d totally forgotten about that one–into a V6 Mustang. Virtually all the responses from Ford enthusiasts said, “Not worth the hassle. Find the RWD fraternal twin of the same engine and use that instead.” Grain of salt as my hands-on experience doesn’t go much beyond changing a tire, but the reasoning makes sense.

          • 0 avatar

            I think there’s a misperception out there that since the engines have the same parts externally, that FWD and RWD versions are plug and play.

            FWIW, if I were swapping motors as in the magazine’s project car, why would I bother with another V6 when a V8 would fit? For the small additional weight but the much higher potential output of the V8, why futz around with a V6 with a bunch of mods?

  • avatar

    What happens when you mail in both design and production.

  • avatar

    my uncle had a Windstar. His experience soured me to Ford products to this day. Ironically his son now works for Ford in Dearborn.

  • avatar

    I would say that this is another example of a good name being devalued on a lesser vehicle, except that I totally forgot that these minivans existed, so I guess it did not really devalue the name of the earlier cars.

  • avatar

    One of these was my FIL’s last new car and last car, purchased in 2004. He lived in Texas, then retired to Tennessee and would drive it up to Michigan to visit our kids, usually in the summer. When he passed in 2012, we moved my MIL here and the van sat. At this point it had ~110K miles on it. My MIL passed in 2016 and my one kid needed a car; she ended up with the van. I’m guessing that it has about ~140K miles on it now.

    I’ve seen the pix of these things when they get to Buffalo, NY levels of rust, but I was aware of the rust issues and so far the rust has been minimal. The car drives just fine, but we have had a bunch of little things break off or fall off in the interior. The most amusing thing has been the external thermometer, as it consistently reads 103 degrees Fahrenheit too high.

    The Monterey’s motor is quite torquey and thirsty. It’s one of the bigger vans, as measured by the Home Depot’s 4’ x 8’ plywood scale. Also, there’s a coarseness/vibration in the drive train that I have never been able to figure out. Compared to my Olds Silhouette, the interior on the Olds is slightly smaller (4’ x 8’s hang out the back), but the Olds gets better fuel mileage and better acceleration. Either one is quite comfortable on the freeway, though.

    Nothing exceptionally wonderful about these beasts which is probably why they have no resale value. But I feel you could say that about a lot of vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      The Essex V6 has a 90 degree bank angle, which doesn’t work so good with 3 power strokes for one crankshaft rotation. It also has a counter balance shaft in the block either above or below the camshaft, and it probably has hydraulic motor mounts to mitigate undesirable NVH, but there’s only so much that can be done. This engine also had a split port design – essentially two intake runners leading to one intake valve, and one of the intake runners had a butterfly valve on a shaft, so the ECU could indirectly vary the velocity of air entering the cylinders for better cylinder filling – a neat trick that I’m not aware of any other company using outside of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury. That’s probably why this Essex 3.8 made about 20 hp more than the Chrysler 3.8, but the Chrysler engine was a smooth operator.

  • avatar

    Did all the captain’s chairs look that good? Could have used them to make an interesting seating arrangement in a man cave.

    Only one of these I ever saw in the wild belonged to someone in a die-hard Ford family. It was purchased new and I assume for a great price or they simply would have bought a Freestar.

  • avatar

    These are a rare sight. The Windstar sold well, but this was a slow seller and near the end of both the platform, the minivan, and Mercury.

    When the Windstar first came out around 1995, it was somewhat competitive with the Chrysler vans. But everyone misjudged the second sliding door, Chrysler was quick to react and incorporate it, Ford didnt, insisting that clinics said people didnt want the second door. 1998 saw an extended drivers front door, but by then the Windstar’s threat to Chrysler was dead. It was the value play and never a contender again.

    The original 3.8L made 155hp, upgraded to 200hp in 1998, I think. I had a Windstar LX with the revised 3.8L for a year as a third vehicle. Drove fine on the highway. Decent power, typical American Car boring ride, crappy handling and brakes, and generally shitty feel. Poor interior, lots of plastics, seemed like it had the buttons and controls from the Taurus of the 90s (before the oval one). They had a 3.0L on budget models, must’ve been super slow. By the end of the Freestar, the 4.2L was decently competitive but noisy and inefficient.

    The early 2000s was all Odyssey and Grand Caravan.

  • avatar

    Oh no!!! BITTER TEARS:

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