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June 12, 2013

Mercury Breezeway: When a Merc wasn’t a Ford

by Paul Daniel

Another unique automotive innovation of the ’60s

1963_mercury_breezeway_adI hate to see a car company go out of business, or car line dropped, especially being such a big AMC guy. Most likely the cars they produced utilized several innovations to separate them from their competition. The rear engine Chevy Corvair, Unibody Construction by American Motors, and Electroluminescent instrument panel lighting by Chrysler. Of course there are tons of others. One that Mercury utilized was the The Breezeway window in the mid 60’s. Mercury did this in an attempt to differentiate itself from the the Fords they were based on. The thought behind the concept was that a driver would open the vents in the dashboard then the back window and have fresh air flowing through the car. Because the roof was slanted, no rain would get in. Hmmm, I’m thinking air conditioning would have worked better here.

The concept got good reviews

The automotive trades liked the Breezeway. Motor Trend pointed out in a test of a Monterey Custom sedan for its March 1963 issue, “The window has three primary ad­van­tages, all equally valuable as far as we’re concerned. There is, of course, more head room for rear seat passengers than with the window sloped in the regular manner. The window’s roof overhang provides a generous sunshade for the rear seat. … Finally, the window opens, operated by a dash control, and is very handy as a ventilation aid.” Car Life liked it too. “About the styling of the current Mercurys, we can only say that the ‘notch-back’ rear window provides the best ventilation and rearward visibility we’ve yet found on a ’63 car,” it said, but added, “It does make the rear-end appear abnormally long.”

But then they kind of mucked it up.

Guess the smokers would have loved it.

Guess the smokers would have loved it.

It did differentiate the Mercury line from the Fords but then for the 1963 model year Mercury added a more conventional-looking Marauder hardtop to the line, sharing the sleek “slantback” roof of the 1963-1/2 big Fords. The slantback roof had been introduced for the benefit of Ford’s NASCAR racers, and its appearance on the Marauder was intended to support Mercury’s own return to racing in 1963. I remember Parnelli Jones driving one at the Milwaukee Mile. Yawn…Mercury buyers weren’t blown away by the looks of the Breezeway, and Mercury’s total 1963 sales were down nearly 40,000 units from 1962; the compact and mid-size lines outsold the big Breezeway cars by a significant margin. Sales were little better the face-lifted ’64s, which deleted the four-door hardtop Breezeway in favor of a four-door version of the Marauder hardtop. Business rallied a bit for ’65 and ’66, but model-for-model sales of the full-size cars were depressing; only the four-door sedans broke into the five-figure range. Off into the sunset the Breezeway went.

A tough car to find now

On my search for Breezeway now I found the pickings slim but not expensive, mostly around 8 grand, but these would essentially be project cars and not show cars. Not that they couldn’t be and if you’re looking for that, there are some good deals. Good examples of the promotional model cars are also hard to find but of course a lot easier on the finances although not cheap. You can find plenty of restoration projects for well under $100 on the action sites and if you’re good at modeling, they would be pretty easy to fix up and maybe even take it to the next level like in this previous post.

Park Ave Breezeway64 merc park laneBut for you who want the car, maybe just one like you owned, or are that collector looking for that one last color be prepared to pay around 300 bucks and up. Going to one of my favorite places to shop for cars (please don’t tell my wife) is Wheat’s Nostalgia. Joe has a couple of cars up for sale. This 1964 above is one of the best examples around. Graded a 10 out of 10, just like it left the factory. Besides having the box, this one has no scratches (tough to find) no warping, chrome and class are outstanding. While your dad may have given you one like this back in 1964 and maybe paid 2 bucks for it, this one is going for $610. Think about it, 2 bucks in ’64 and 610 now. Not too bad. Joe also has (or had) a couple of other promotional model cars, dealer promotional model cars, model cars, savageonwheels.com, wheat's nostalgia64 beigh 2Breezeways, also 1964’s. This white one is a 9. Most collectors would be quite satisfied with a model which has this grading as it is near mint. A “9” might have some rather minor chrome rubs, re-plated original chrome, or possibly a tiny paint imperfection but nothing broken or missing. promotional model cars, dealerBlack 6$525 and it’s yours to take home. This black one, again a hardtop, went for $315. Finding one in black is difficult. I really like the look of the 2-door hardtops. So if you’re in search for another project, there are plenty of them on eBay. No worries because there are tons of resources to help you out and you will see in the links below. If you’re stuck, shoot me the question and I’ll do my best to connect you with the people who can help make your project a perfect 10.

Sources

Scaledreams.com

Modelcargarage.com

Banditresins.com

Tjscustomcastings.com

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