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History of the 1972-1976 Mercury Montego
1968 was a big year for Mercury. They released a brand-new name for a brand-new mid-sized car (one of the most important size classifications for sales). Sales did well despite a UAW strike against Ford that year, which slowed progress.
The Comet had done its job at Mercury, and grown from compact to mid-sized when the new bodies came along in 1966, but it was demoted while the new Montego name took up the majority of mid-sized Mercury offerings for 1968. The Cyclone became a performance series in its own right, also based on the same new body-shell.
Montego was available as a four-door sedan and two-door hardtop, while upscale MX versions added two-door convertible and four-door wagon body styles as well. The wheelbase was 116 inches (except for wagons, which measured 113 inches).
The reliable 200 cubic inch six of 115 hp was standard, but most people opted for the V-8s, which included new 302 cubic inch versions with 210 or 230 hp, 390 cubic inch versions with 265 hp, 325hp or 335hp, and the really hot 427 cubic inch V-8 of 390 hp as well as the 428 cubic inch V8 of 335 hp.
1969 cars were broadly similar to 1968, except that an upscale MX Brougham line was added that included four-door sedan or two-door hardtop. The new 250 cubic inch 155 hp six became standard on the Montego and Comet, while the other engines were broadly similar, with the addition of the new 351 and 429 cubic inch V-8s. The 427 was discontinued.
The nose-job for 1970 cars was probably the final hurrah for Detroit’s freedom to style cars to excess, with a large beak that resembled a more squared off version of the one which appeared on the Ford Thunderbird for that year. Hidden headlights on the MX Brougham cars give the grille a seven-panel look that was unique. Convertibles disappeared, while four-door hardtops joined the line. 1971 cars then featured a new grille and the hidden headlights were discontinued.
The 1972 Montego line was all-new from the ground up with the exception of engines. The wheelbase was 118 inches for all four-door cars and 114 inches for two-door cars. A full frame was also utilized for the first time, helping to isolate the driver and passenger from the road. The venerable 250 cubic inch six of 145 hp was standard, with 302, 351, 400 and 429 V8s optional. Body styles included four-door sedan and hardtop coupe, with MX versions also featuring a station wagon, an MX Brougham four-door sedan and hardtop coupe, and an MX Villager wood-side station wagon, plus a new GT fastback. The 1973 Montego saw the 302 V-8 become standard.
For 1974, the GT fastback was dropped and 5 mph bumpers added to the rear. The 429 V-8 was replaced by the 460 engine previously used in Lincoln and full-sized Mercury cars in order to simplify production and emissions certification. Engines were detoxed to their limits in this last year of non-catalytic converter emissions, and useful power was down across the board. This was evident when the standard Montego engine became the 351, despite the OPEC fuel crisis hitting just about the time these cars were introduced in late 1973.
1975 cars were facelifted a bit, and new catalytic convertors allowed engines to be tuned for better fuel economy. 1976 cars were the last of the Montego cars, as the Cougar name took over from 1977.
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