1961 Meteor

The 1961 Meteor received fresh styling that set it apart from full-size Fords, more so than the Meteors that preceded it. Its dual headlights were set far apart with chrome stars in between. 1961 Mercurys had headlights spaced farther apart than ‘61 Fords, but not to this degree. Out back, the chrome that topped the fins continued through the taillights to run parallel to the rear bumper. It’s an attractive look that sets it apart from both Ford and Mercury. After 1961, the Meteor brand would disappear in favour of a cheaper Mercury that borrowed its name.

After the Edsel debacle of the late 50s, there was a shift in the positioning of Ford’s brands to compensate for its loss. When the mid-priced Edsel arrived, Ford attempted to push Mercury upscale. When Edsel failed, Ford reworked the rest of Mercury’s lineup to bring prices back down. The previous entry level model, the Monterey, became the top-tier Mercury as the higher priced Montclair and Park Lane models were axed. While the Meteor was gone for 1962, it wasn’t forgotten, as Ford borrowed the name when it launched the new Mercury Meteor, in 1961 in the U.S.. Perhaps influenced by lessons learned from the Canadian auto industry, the Mercury Meteor was a new, entry-level, full-size Mercury — very similar to the role the Meteor brand provided in the Canadian market in the years prior. The new Mercury Meteor 600 and 800 essentially took the place of the entire Edsel lineup, and was little more than a cheaper Monterey with different trim.

1962 Mercury Meteor

The 1962 Mercury Meteor, which saw sales in the U.S. and Canada. It was not a sales success and was discontinued in 1963.

For 1962, Ford decided that the Monterey name had more sway as a full-size car, and the Mercury Meteor moved down a segment to become a mid-size car based on the Ford Fairlane. It was this year that the Mercury Meteor first saw sales in Canada — the Meteor having still been in showrooms for the 1961 model year. However, sales did not improve and the model was discontinued in the U.S. by the end of the 1963 model year.

Although the new Mercury wasn’t selling in the U.S., demand for low-priced cars in Mercury showrooms was still strong in Canada. To appease dealers frustrated with the departure of the Meteor brand, Ford released a new, even lower priced Mercury 400 for Canada in 1963. When the Mercury Meteor disappeared in the U.S., in 1963, Ford reintroduced the Meteor brand to Canada.

1964 Meteor

When Meteor returned for 1964, it shared its body with the Mercury Monterey. In 1965, the Monterey and Meteor were updated with crisp new styling that reflected the luxurious Lincoln brand.

When it returned, the new Meteor shared the majority of its parts with the full-size Mercury Monterey, not a full-size Ford as it had previously. Although appearing much the same as the full-size 1964 Monterey, the Meteor shared its interior with full-size Fords to keep costs down. Rideau, Rideau 500 and Montcalm models returned. A sporty Meteor Montcalm S-33 was also available from 1966-70, similar in concept to the Mercury Marauder but not as ferocious (the S-33 was also a top-tier package available on the short-lived Mercury Meteor).

A new top-tier model, called the Montego, was added for 1967 but was short-lived as the name migrated south for use on American Mercurys. The LeMoyne replaced the Montego trim level in Canada for 1968. To confuse matters, and possibly pointing to a post APTA future without the Meteor, 1968 Meteors began receiving Mercury badging and were advertised as Mercurys, although still technically considered a separate marque.

Continue this story on page 5.

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