Earlier this year, this gorgeous 1957 Mercury Monterey M-335 crossed the auction block in Florida. An older restoration that is holding up quite well, this model is a rare, purpose-built, two-door hardtop that was modified by the legendary Bill Stropped to satisfy Nascar homologation. These are the very basic facts about the car, but they raise more questions than they answer.
Once upon a time, Nascar race cars really were based on production cars. There had to be a minimum of one hundred production cars in order to satisfy homologation minimums, which meant that the manufacturer had to produce a car that was substantially similar to the car that showed up at the track. It also meant that the general public was able to get their hands on some truly amazing machines, such as this Nantucket Blue and Classic White Mercury Monterey M-335.
The 1957 Mercury Monterey M-335 was blessed with the Lincoln 368 cubic-inch Y-block V8 that made 335 horsepower. Legendary builder and racer Bill Stroppe was contracted to modify one hundred of the Montereys at his southern California shop. Stroppe endowed the Montereys with a substantial performance upgrade, using an aluminum intake manifold, high-lift Isky cam, mechanical lifters, high-flow exhaust, cast iron manifolds, an aluminum bellhousing, heavy-duty clutch, thirty-five pound flywheel, and dual Holley four-barrel carbs. All this engine is backed by a column-shifted heavy duty three-speed manual transmission feeding power to the nine-inch rear end stuffed with 3.89 gears.
This 1957 Mercury Monterey M-355 is number 33 of the 100 produced by Bill Stroppe for homologation. It was the subject of a fastidious three-year restoration that was completed in 2010. The Nantucket Blue and Classic White finish possesses a deep shine, likely better than when it was new. Chrome bumpers and trim present as new, with no signs of patina visible. Stainless trim is free from any observable dings, and polished to a high standard. The glass and weatherstrip appear recent, with no road pepper or cracks noted. The 14-inch steel wheels are painted black, wear dog dish caps, and are wrapped in BF Goodrich bias ply blackwall tires.
Inside, the Mercury Monterey M-355 is not much different from other 1957 Mercury models. The two-tone wraparound dash is home to an AM radio and a standard set of gauges. Seats are covered in white vinyl and tri-tone blue cloth, and the door panels are white and blue. The black and white steering wheel is mounted on a fixed steering column. Most of the Monterey M-335s were sparsely-equipped, but this copy is equipped with both a radio and heater.
Under the hood, this Mercury Monterey is clean to the point of being spotless, and very correct. Twin Holley carbs and a gold-painted aluminum intake top the 368 cubic-inch V8. Valve covers are adorned with the M-335 logo.
This rare Mercury Monterey crossed the auction block for $77,000 USD at the Mecum Auctions Kissimmee, Florida sale that ran from January 6th through the 16th.