Cold Start: Something About The Name Of This Car Feels Wrong

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One of the other cars my family had growing up was a 1973 Ford Country Squire. Richer families than ours may have opted for the Mercury version of the same car, which featured a fussier grille, more raised moldings on the taillights, different hubcaps–you know, the signifiers of somewhat more wealth.

What stuck me about this particular Mercury wagon is the name: Meteor Montcalm. Something just feels weird about that combination. A Meteor and Mount Calm? It sounds like a strange fable about a a little sleepy Swiss town on a mountain that’s about to get wiped out by a meteor but they’re all too calm and lazy to give a shit and they end up a smoking crater except for like a little shepherd girl and her sheep.

Is it just me? It’s a weird name, right?

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39 Responses

  1. I grew up in Texas and my family had a ’73 LTD Country Squire station wagon. In the time before minivans, it was the answer for families that had three or more kids.

    The thing was a tank, which explains why I inherited it when I got my driver’s license. It was actually reasonably fast with the 400 under the hood, though it handled like a large, fat, out-of-shape bovine. It wasn’t as cool as a Camaro or a Cutlass, but I could haul all my buddies around in it.

  2. I got you on the name, it’s simple. Blame Canada.

    Meteor was a Ford brand in Canada. They made the Meteor Montcalm.

    Ford got rid of the Meteor brand with Mercury and just made Meteor a model and Montcalm a trim. Giving you the Mercury Meteor Montcalm.

    1. I wanted to say something about the alliteration of Mercury Meteor Montcalm providing a second level of dissonance to the juxtaposition of a mercuric and meteoric with a mountain of calm… but Yara went and brought FACTS to the internet.

      Today I Learned that Meteor was a brand in Canada. Thanks Yara!

      1. It’s part of a weird quirk of Canadian dealership licensing – you had Ford dealers, and you had Mercury dealers. In a lot of the country, a town could only have one or the other for a while. So you had to have a way to sell Fords to the Mercury people, and Mercurys to the Ford people, for the dealerships were separate networks. Sometimes, such as in the case of Mercury pickup trucks, they just straight up took a Ford, put Mercury badges on it, and made no other changes. Sometimes they put in more effort.

        For Mercury, the Meteor brand was the cheaper option, and generally based on Ford models. It kind of phased in and out of being a separate brand – Ford was very much inconsistent on this front – but in general it was there to get Ford buyers in the Mercury dealerships. Because it was exclusively Canadian, you’d get names like Montcalm and Rideau to align with things Canadians had heard about, though they were annoyingly fixated on French places.

        For Ford, there was the Monarch brand, which was meant to get people in Ford dealerships to spend more money. These were based on Mercury models, so they had nicer trim than Fords and were more expensive. They were briefly replaced by Edsel in the market and then brought back after nobody liked Edsel.

        They sometimes had unique styling as well, I particularly like the rear end of the ’61 Monarch Montcalm.

        Ford was eventually able to combine them all – I think in the ’60s, since that seemed to be when the brands got discontinued and wrapped into existing model lines – and in the late ’90s got rid of Mercury in Canada, which happened before the end of Panther production, so you technically had the Ford Grand Marquis which still had full Mercury badging.

        This also resulted in weird Canadian Pontiacs which also had French names before the two chains were integrated – while Pontiac was a step up from Chevrolet in America, in Canada it was basically Chevrolets, but for people who had a Pontiac dealership. At one point in the ’80s America got one of these models – the Parisienne – because American Pontiac dealers wanted a Caprice and it was a quick and dirty way to get it.

        1. I had an ’84 Parisienne in the late 90’s and the only way you could tell that it was a Pontiac was because of the badges. Some previous owner even swapped out the Parisienne grill for the Caprice grill. This was in MN and I haven’t seen one before or since. I guess that’s close enough to Canada.

    2. Meteor was its own brand from 1949-1961, and again from 1964-1976, the Meteor name was only used by Mercury in Canada for ’62 and ’63, when it was the same as the US Meteor, and again from ’77 into the early 80s, when it became a trim level on the Marquis. But it was never used in conjunction with Montcalm when it was under Mercury, Montcalm was strictly a model name when Meteor was a separate brand.

    3. Totally Canadian brands.

      The Marquis de Montcalm was a French soldier who died in Quebec during the French and Indian War, so there’s a lot of stuff named after him. And I assume the Rideau was named after the Rideau River in Ontario.

      Still, juxtaposing “Meteor” and a word that includes “calm” just sounds weird. And the Rideau reminds me of the old Soviet Russia jokes: “In Soviet Russia, station wagon rides YOU!”

  3. Just like a celebrity would never drive a Chevy Celebrity, a squire would never drive one of these in the country.
    We had a late 80’s Country squire when I was a kid. The way back seats faced each other. It was very cool.

  4. Well, Moseler Consulier?..Mazda Wide Bongo?.

    There are weirder.

    Montcalm seems quite…umm..calm to me, to waft along sitting on a sofa watching the traffic in the distance over the length of the hood.

  5. Both Montcalm and Rideau would show up in Canadian history textbooks. Montcalm was a French General who lost a fairly important battle (and his life) against the British. Rideau is the name of a canal that ends up in the capital city of Ottawa, built for military purposes after the war of 1812. So, do you want the car named after a big loser or a big ditch?

  6. List of names they turned away before settling on Meteor Montcalm:
    1. Asteroid ChillValley
    2. Comet LithiumFjord
    3. Cytoplast PensiveIsthmus
    4. Quasar BreastMilk
    5. Steve
    6. Ira GoldMeyer
    7. Ingot PingleFlog
    8. Young the GasGiant

  7. My family had a giant green Rideau 500 wagon when I was a kid. Green outside, green inside – so much green….

    My father traded it in on a 1973 BMW Bavaria. Surprisingly, the BMW dealer tried to sell it themselves and it sat on their used lot for months. We’d wave at it every time we drove by.

    Adam on the Rare Classic Cars YouTube channel did an explanation of these cars:
    https://youtu.be/rkF8cjH1vmY

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