Here’s the selling story for the Ford Motor Company’s middle-luxury Mercury division for 1958.
This 1958 Mercury commercial takes us back to that familiar time when the American automobile was sold by the inch and by the pound. Bigger was better, and “longer, lower, and wider” was another way to say “new and improved.” Cars kept growing all through the 1950s, and by ’58 they had nearly reached their zenith in size and weight. In this spot, a wacky stunt featuring rodeo star Wag Blessing is used to demonstrate (purportedly) that the Mercury has “the solid, comfort ride of a big, heavy car.”
Indeed. Through a good part of the decade, the Mercury brand was marketed under the tagline “The Big M,” and the 1958 models were true to form. The senior Park Lane, introduced at midyear to compete with the Buick Roadmaster, rolled on a 125-inch wheelbase, sporting an overall length of 220.2 inches. (Wheelbase for the rest of the line was 122 inches.) Two new V8s built on Ford’s MEL architecture were offered in 383 and 430 cubic-inch displacements, and there was a Super Marauder version of the 430 boasting three two-barrel carbs and 400 horsepower—one of the most powerful engines of the ’50s. Along with much of the industry, Mercury had joined the push-button transmission craze—read about Merc-O-Matic Keyboard Control here.
Despite the ambitious product lineup, 1958 was not a banner year for Mercury, nor for the Motor City’s middle-luxury class in general. Sales tanked as the nation suffered through its first real post-World War II recession (at the time, labeled the “Eisenhower recession”). Production for the Mercury brand slipped more than 50 percent, prompting a complete rethink of the division’s product strategy and Turnpike Cruiser styling theme. But for the moment, let’s enjoy the rough-riding demonstration by Wag Blessing. Video below.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.