Junkyard Find: 2005 Mercury Monterey

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2005 mercury monterey
With 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.
Right. 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.
Ford 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.
Of course I bought the clock for my collection.
This 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.
Vehicles 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).
Now 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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  • Ws358 Ws358 on Aug 05, 2019

    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.

  • MaintenanceCosts Will the Bronco have a four-motor configuration a la Rivian? That seems to me like the right approach for an EV off-roader. Enables lots of neat tricks.
  • Lou_BC ERay? A southern model will be the BillyRay.
  • Lou_BC I've never used a car buying plan service. My Costco membership did get me 1,000 cash back on my last truck.
  • Jeff S I can understand 8 cars is a bit much unless you are a serious collector. I always loved the Challenger when it first came out and now. I don't need a car like this but I am glad it exists at least for 1 more year. If I had a choice between a Mustang, a Camaro, and a Challenger I would opt for a Challenger but probably with a V-6 since it has more than enough power for most and I don't need to be burning rubber. Challenger has the classic muscle car looks, more cabin room, and a decent size trunk which makes it very livable for day to day driving and for traveling. The base models of the Dodge Challenger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gives you 305 horsepower with 268 lb-ft torque. The car attains 60 mph from a standstill within just 6 seconds, which is quite fast. Even with their base engines, the Challenger and Camaro are lightning-fast. The Camaro reaches 165 mph, while the Challenger can go up to 11 mph faster!
  • Inside Looking Out I would avoid American cities if I can. European cities are created for humans and Americans for cars.