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1955 Mercury Montclair Sun Valley Hardtop

 

Vin Number: 55SL40396M

Body Number: BV64B  86-593-15B-566

Base Price: $2,712.00

Production: 1,787

Horsepower: 198 @ 4,400 rpm

Wheelbase: 119 inches

Length: 206.3 inches

(Without Continental kit)

Weight: 3,560 lbs.

 

1955 - Built at St. Louis Plant – 40396 sequence number – Mercury

Six Passenger Montclair Sun Valley Coupe

Upper Color: Glen Lake Blue Metallic  Lower Color: Alaska White

Interior: Medium Blue and White Vinyl with Blue Chromotex

Built on February 15 – 566th car built that month

 

Current Upper Color: Alaska White                  Lower Color: Carmen Red

Interior: Carmen Red Leather and Alaska White Vinyl
 

 Frank, the owner, had a 55 Sun Valley in 1956 after his Marine Corps service that was loaded  with all the options. After a very successful career in Banking, Frank went looking for his old car. With a long search and lots of calls and dead ends, he called us at Hot Rods by HG. We had the unit on consignment.

 Frank purchased the Sun Valley from Hot Rods by HG and then had us restore the unit for him. The car was basically in a basket when received. Others had done some work on the body, engine, interior and mechanicals. Some of the work was done correctly while much of it had to be redone. The car was apart, stacks of chrome, not sure how well it ran and body work was showing.

 

 

         

 

 

 

Frank with 55 SunValley in 56

The following pages give the story and pictures of the restoration. Only 1787 of the SunValley Montclair’s were built in 1955 and the Montclair was a unit all by its self with a lower roof line than any other Mercury. This was defiantly a Luxury car for the day. We found out very quickly that the 1955 Montclair was a one year only car. The 56 may look alike but there are many, many parts that do not fit the 55! Also, there are very few aftermarket parts made for the 55-56 Mercury. This project started January of 2004 and was completed January of 2006.

This is what it looked like before we loaded and hauled to our shop. Lots of work left to do.

 

Here is the start of the project, some side pictures of the door lines and spaces to make sure they fit back. The paint looks good but the sheet metal has some problems under the car.

Another door gap from the pass side.

The interior is stripped and stored. All chrome and fabric is removed.

Once the carpet is out the floor problems show up. This hole extends to the toe board and indicates the body mount is gone.

This is not factory, some time in its life a shifter of some type in the floor. Currently has the proper Merc-O-Matic.

The passenger floor has even more issues and the kick panel needs some work as well.

Up on the rotisserie and lifted to a working height with the doors removed and the door openings X’s to hold everything in place.

A closer look at the X in the door prior to the pass door being removed. With out this the body might flex, crack a window and have everything out of alignment.

Here the dash has been removed as well as all components under the dash. With a Vintage air and electric wipers going in, fitting it will be easier with out the dash. Also the dash will be easier to paint out of the car.

With the dash on the bench all the components are removed and checked over.

The passenger floor is removed as well as some of the body mounts. The inner rocker panel also had to be replaced along with the mounts and floor.

The mounts were welded in and the new floor pan installed. The spot welds indicate the body mounts welded in place.

The rear seat floor also had issues around the mounts and corners. These were removed and repaired with new metal. The rocker panel had not been welded fully, it is now.

The rear body mount in the trunk was cut out and repaired.

A look at the passenger side inner rocker and new body mounts in place. These will be finished off with the rest of the under side later and painted.

The driver’s floor had similar problems and some additional repairs were needed.

New mounts and floor with the shifter hole and toe board repaired.

The driver’s side rear trunk mount cut out and repaired.

This is the rusted metal that has been removed from the mounts and floor pans thus far.

Looking for the side emblems and horn emblem for some really nice ones.

The rear quarters had some patches in place but were poorly done, no rust was cut out, just covered up.

With the old patch plus some taken out we can see the inner fender rot as well.

The inner wheel well is cut and repaired with new metal and fitted as tightly or better than factory.

The new quarter patch is made from scratch, fitted and welded in place. The fender skirt fits great and minimal body work is needed. This will last for years.

The fronts of the fenders on these Merc’s are notorious for rust. More filler over rust, so a pair of fender fronts were found and welded on to provide a very solid fender.

Another look at the replaced front fender sections.

This is some of the unseen parts that take some time; these hold the fender skirts in and lock them in place. The old ones were shot and all 4 were made from new steel.

The steering column had to be pulled, disassembled and shorted about 6”. We are installing a GM Power Steering Gear.  There is the outer tube, inner shift tube and steering shaft, all were cut and shortened. The vertical standing tubes are the removed portions.

Here the passenger rear quarter has been fully repaired, fender skirt fitted and initial body work done. It’s now ready for a “feather fill” primer and block sanding. The filler is paper thin in most places.

 

The rear quarters are primed with “feather fill” high build filler. Then we load it with turner and all to get the interior, trunk, underside and firewall media blasted.

Back from media blasting and the quarters are blocked down. Brad is cleaning the entire body to get rid of any dirt that might cause paint problems. The quarters and body have been sanded up to 8 times by now.

Some additional repairs were needed after blasting. The entire front suspension is now disassembled, cleaned, painted, disk brakes added.

After a final blocking and sealer is applied.

 

Here Kelly is applying the white to the top of the car. The turner comes in handy here. That’s Josh observing.

With the white on the roof and top of the quarter, it is masked off and ready for the red color.

The hood was in good condition; needed some blocking and the underside needed painting. Here it is shown with blocking and prep for final paint.

Previously all the fenders, hood, trunk and other parts have been painted red. Here Kelly is doing some buffing on the finished hood.  A finished door is in the background.

Once the body was painted, cut and buffed it was masked off and the underside was painted and sealed. The rear springs will be replaced so they are left unpainted. We used bed liner instead of undercoating for more durability.

The spare wheel well was in tough shape. Here the replacement in welded in and sealed with fiber-tech a fiberglass bonding/filler product. The seal is on both the top and bottom of the weld.

The top and bottom of the main body is painted and cut and buffed. We can now get some assembly work started.

A shot of the underside and gas tank in place. Tank was cleaned, painted, new fuel gauge unit installed along with new fuel line. Those are new springs in place as well. The rear axle got new bearings and seals through out.

The engine was pulled, cleaned and checked over. It was found to have poor oil pressure and was fully rebuilt. The block was bored, new cam shaft, crank shaft turned and heads rebuilt.

 

Note the disc brakes in front, full suspension was rebuilt with new bushings, ball joints etc.

How the underside looks with new suspension, fresh detail on the engine, new brake and fuel lines installed.

We started on the stainless which was in pretty good condition. Some dings like this one need some work. A similar dent was in the other piece that has been worked on.

Progress, the rear shelf with new rear speaker and rear defrosters is in along with the rear window and trunk lid in place.

The wire harness and new wiring is started, the radiator and fluids are added as well as the inner fender wells. All the engine plumbing and brake lines are added.

Passenger side shot shows the heater hose, AC compressor is a low mount unit and barely noted below the exhaust manifold. Original heater motor will be installed but not operable.

The painted and assembled dash prior to the rest of the components being installed. The AC Evaporator ended up lower than we wanted because of the Town & Country radio took up all the room under the dash.

The doors are fitted and some of the stainless is installed. Trunk lid is fitted and it starts to look like a car again.

The steering column required a great deal of modification because of the Gearheads PS kit. This is the original floor plates which we modified. Note the shift link comes inside the car and we will fabricate a round cover to support the column bottom as well as seal out the exterior. The kit took more modification than any other we have done.

A new 2.5” stainless exhaust was bent and installed. We had one side of the original left and used it as our pattern. We had some minimal on car adjustment to do.

This shows the exhaust pipes extended for the Continental kit. That’s Josh doing some hanger work.

On the ground with new wide white 215/75/15 tires on 6” wheels. Fender skirts are in place and exhaust is extended.

Frank wanted the front driving lights installed. The lower switch is for those lights. We have a full set of both black knobs and chrome knobs for the car.

A before and after shot of the taillight housings before re-chroming (DuBois in Minneapolis, MN) and after. The lenses are original and were sanded with 1500 & 2000 grit then buffed back to a shine.

The Merc has two complete separate audio systems. The Town & Country original system with front and rear speaker.

 

This is the Auto Sound Secret Radio with AM/FM and 10 Disc CD. The control will be mounted on the drivers visor and hidden. CD changer is in the trunk.

Here Josh is fabricating the AC vent mount for the middle of the dash. We decided the units provided were too big and ugly. This will be smaller, less obtrusive and blend into the dash better.

This is the optional custom wheel that was available in 55. It has the chrome hand holds and full horn ring. The wheel was disassembled and chrome sent out. The wheel was then sanded, prepped and painted.

 

Secret Audio control is on the dash.

The Secret Audio requires its own speakers. These 2.5” ones will go under the dash on the kick panel out of site. Here we see the paper pattern, metal cut for bending and a welded box ready for a hole.

These are the finished front speaker boxes. Note the lining is to minimize metallic sound from the speakers.

 

The red vents go on the kick panel as well for the AC.

 

The white unit is the center AC vent mount that was being fabricated and will mount under the dash.

The arm rests were not the best. We found some others and took the best, sanded, repaired and repainted them. Pads just needed a clean up.

You’ll notice a yellow/green can by the brake master cylinder, this is the Chassis Lubricator. It runs on vacuum and when activated by a button on the interior it would push grease to the chassis parts while driving! It was an option in 55/56.  The large jar is the windshield washer bottle.

One fender on and some of the bumper trial fitted. All of the front chrome was redone.

This shows the CD player in the upper left corner. The new side panels are installed, the jack instructions on the trunk lid and the trunk is ready for a custom floor carpet.

The mirrors mount on the front fenders and often times they would be loose because of the minimal metal to hold the screws. We added an additional plate under the fender to add more metal and strength for the mirror mount.

An update on the interior parts. This shows the lower column support that was fabricated to enclose the modified shift arm and support the column bottom. It comes apart in two pieces for access. 

 

Note the speaker on the kick panel.

The dash is complete with the new AC vent mounted in the center. The AC controls are mounted vertically in the original heater control area. The controls on the right side of the wheel control L/R air vents now.

 

Green light next to clock and radio is for Auto Lube System.

One issue we had was the front of the rocker panel did not match the lower door or fender. They were placed in too far when someone else had installed them.

 

This shows how they now fit after repair.

To repair the rockers, we cut the rocker just off the joint and spread it to fit the body lines. It was welded and finished off. Here it shows the cut prior to welding and finishing. We waited until now to assure the best body line.

Installing the Continental kit took some time. It’s a Ford unit and Mercury is very different. The center pans are after markets for the Mercury which is 3” wider than a Ford.

The rear bumper and pans are in place. Now we just have to get the mechanism to fit and the tire!

The hub caps were carefully straightened and highly polished. We got 4 excellent ones from about 10. Here they are masked off for the Candy Burgundy color paint.

Here we have the tire and cover in place with out the pans in. The cover is painted and protected with paper.

Because we have the larger 215 tires, a larger cover ring had to be used. Also the stop on the mechanism had to be altered to prevent the tire from hitting the taillight.

In the end we had to move the pans back and lower to make the unit work right. The pans were fitted to the contour of the tail pan. Now we have a gap on the end caps between the taillight areas.

We fashioned a filler piece that is welded to the end cap, finished and repainted.

The mechanism frame had to be notched to fit the rear pan in several places.

 

From all the fitting even with the tape to protect it, we got scratches and had to repaint the tail pan area.

The spare wheel well had to be stretched a little to have the 215 tire fit as it should. Here is the finished trunk waiting for a new mat.

Painting done, covers fitted, pans and caps in place complete with license plate holder and SunValley insignia.

 

Note the exhaust tips on each end. They are cast aluminum and polished.

Here is how the Continental Kit looks from the side. Everything just fits and clears.

The new curtain for the skylight is put in place along with its roll-up holder and interior trim. This can be unzipped and rolled back to expose the sun or zipped up as a sun shield.

Hub caps, continental kit, trim and bumpers in place. The unit is lowered about 1-1.5” from stock height.

We had a tough time finding original seat belt buckles. We settled for air craft belts from Southern Rodder. Three sets were installed in both the front and back seat.

Now this is fun, let’s drill ½” holes in those nice fenders we just finished. The spot lights require a hole thought the fender, cowl and dash!

Here the spotlight is mounted and functional on both sides.

The interior was redone in leather with the proper pattern for the Montclair. Here is Billy’s Custom Cover-up finished front seat and door panel.

The back seat was changed over to the split back with center arm rest and Montclair pattern.

The trunk mat is a combination of vinyl and carpet, trunk is now finished.

The hubcaps are painted with a transparent burgundy color. We went by the color on the older hubcaps.

The original Mercury’s had the rear bumper letters painted black. Here they are masked off prior to primer and paint.

Here we have the finished back end with full bumper guards and rails, painted Mercury, continental kit with extra Sun Valley Script.

Finished car ready for the show and delivery.

One of only a few Glass Top Mercury’s back on the road!

Want to go for a cruise?

April of 05, the Mercury is in the Grand Forks, Prime Steel show.

 

The 30 Woody Camper with Canoe came from our shop as well.

March 05, Toppers Show in Fargo, ND.

 


 

 

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