My Classic Car: Harry’s 1961 Mercury Monterey convertible

The '61 Mercury Monterey looked good, but it undergoing restoration after 415,000 miles | Harry Jacobs photos
The ’61 Mercury Monterey looked good, but it undergoing restoration after 415,000 miles | Harry Jacobs photos

In 1959-1960 I was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. I was transferred back to the States in January 1961. I was assigned to the ROTC Unit at St Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y., where it was a little below zero with snow blowing hard.

One of the first things I did was order a 1961 Mercury Monterey convertible, fully equipped with everything.

I liked the Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels but they were not offered as an option on the Mercury but were available on the Ford, Thunderbird, and Lincoln. I told the Mercury dealer that I wanted the Kelsey-Hayes wheels and the dealer told me that Mercury would not do that. I said let’s make the order predicated upon getting the Kelsey Hayes wheels.

Pre-restoration
Pre-restoration

The dealer submitted the order and I didn’t hear anything more until mid-February when the dealer called and told me that my car would be arriving the next day.

I arrived at the dealership early the next morning at the car hauler was sitting at the curb in front of the dealership. On the top row of cars sits my Mercury, white with red and white upholstery and Kelsey-Hayes wheels.

When I was ordered to Korea two years later, I had to sell the Mercury. Upon my return to the States 14 months later I wanted to buy my car back if I could find it. No luck.

I couple of years later I was ordered to Vietnam and upon my return I resumed my search, again without any success.

After 22 years with the Army and then another 15 years with the Department of Defense as a civilian, I retired. I again resumed my search, this time for a 1961 Mercury Monterey convertible that was in fairly good condition.

I had retired to Florida and had plenty of time on my hands. After several weeks of searching I found one, not mine, in Minnesota.

I bought it and had it shipped to Florida. I am now having the Mercury restored by Harbor Restorations. I am not able to restore the car myself due to a couple of heart attacks and a pacemaker that have left me very weak.

Undergoing restoration
Undergoing restoration

I am anxious to get the old Mercury back fully restored and enjoy showing it to the senior citizens who remember when a car could be identified several blocks away.

Before sending it for restoration, I had the Mercury at a car show, top down, in Titusville and two couples in their early 80s were standing by my car, admiring it. One of the gentlemen turned to his wife and said, “I remember those big back seats well.” His wife poked him in the arm and said, “Oh Schuss” and they all laughed a good belly laugh. Then the other gentlemen said, “Oh, for the good old days.” Here in Florida there are great many people that remember the old great cars.

Attached are a couple of pictures prior to the restoration project and one during the restoration. It looked good when I got it, but with 413,000 miles it needs a lot of work and a lot of replacement sheetmetal.

Oh, and notice the Kelsey-Hayes wheels.

— Harry Jacobs, Titusville FL

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