Home » Cool Classic Fords: 1962 Mercury Meteor vs 1963 Ford Fairlane

Cool Classic Fords: 1962 Mercury Meteor vs 1963 Ford Fairlane

Sbsd 4 30 2024
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Good morning! By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to pick up a U-Haul trailer, getting ready to head east. But I’m going to leave you with two more Portland cars to check out, both early-60s Ford products, and both dripping with cool – and maybe some vital fluids.

Yesterday’s cheap beaters told me something interesting about this crowd – more of you are cat people than I realized! We have three little “house panthers” ourselves, after years of having dogs, and I’m mighty fond of them, except at five o’clock in the morning when they start jumping on me to wake me up. Anyway, I didn’t expect that Nissan to get votes because of the cat-print headliner. You folks are all right in my book.

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Oh, and a fun fact about that headliner: If you stare at it long enough, a sailboat appears. You just have to relax your eyes.

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All right. Today is all about FoMoCo, and we’re going to look at a couple of cool old cruisers with alliterative names. Both of them go just fine, but one needs a little help stopping. Let’s see what you make of them.

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1962 Mercury Meteor – $4,600

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Engine/drivetrain: 170 cubic inch overhead valve inline 6, three-speed manual, RWD

Location: Clackamas, OR

Odometer reading: 67,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well

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The ’62 Mercury Meteor, and its sister model the Ford Fairlane, were Ford’s first “intermediate” models, larger than the Falcon and Comet, but smaller than the full-sized Galaxie and Monterey. For the first time, Ford’s main vehicle lines were available in three sizes, an arrangement that continued for decades, and even persists today, though the vehicles in question are now crossovers and SUVs instead of sedans – and of course, the Mercury nameplate is long gone.

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This Meteor is powered by an inline six, the same basic engine that powered midsized Fords all the way up through the Fairmont/Zephyr years. Here it displaces 170 cubic inches and sends power to the rear wheels via a floor-shifted three-speed manual. It runs and drives very well, and has new brakes, a new clutch, new tires, and a recent tune-up. The seller calls it a “dependable driver.”

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It’s in reasonably good cosmetic shape as well. The upholstery looks all right, as does the interior trim. The parking brake handle is wrapped in tape, and I’m not sure why there’s what looks like a can of spackle sitting on the seat, but otherwise it’s actually pretty nice. The floor shift could be original, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it originally had a column shifter and the floor-mounted lever is aftermarket.

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It’s got a couple spots of rust here and there, but hardly anything worth mentioning. Or fixing, really. It’s just a nice old classic car that you can enjoy without getting too fussy about the details.

1963 Ford Fairlane 500 – $4,995

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Engine/drivetrain: 260 cubic inch overhead valve V8, two-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Tigard, OR

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Odometer reading: 22,000 miles (probably rolled over)

Operational status: Runs great, should have brakes done before driving

This Fairlane is a variation on the same theme. It’s a year newer, and powered by a 260 cubic inch Windsor V8, along with a two-speed Ford-O-Matic transmission, but it rides on the same 115.5 inch wheelbase. It’s a Fairlane 500, which was the fancy model, though in those days I think that mostly just meant more chrome.

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The engine has been rebuilt, and runs well, according to the seller. They’ve replaced the exhaust, fuel tank, and fuel pump, so that side of things is all ready to go. But they didn’t get around to the suspension or brakes yet. That’s not expensive or complicated stuff to fix, just messy and time-consuming. The seller says it is technically drivable, but “should be trailered.” Considering how sellers typically downplay a car’s problems, I’d get a trailer.

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Inside, there’s nothing to worry about – it’s all been redone, and it looks really nice. It looks like a custom tuck-and-roll job, but it could be pre-made covers from one of the mail-order shops selling reproduction parts.  Either way, it looks great, and the carpet looks new as well.

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Outside, the two-tone paint has become four-tone: Blue, white, rust, and primer. It’s mostly surface rust, from where the paint has simply been lost to time. This is the sort of patina that has become fashionable to just clearcoat over and preserve, and really, the only other option is to refinish the whole car – not worth it for a run-of-the-mill Fairlane sedan.

I don’t know about you all, but I get a little tired of seeing the same classic cars over and over again. There are so many old cars out there that get overlooked because they aren’t fast, or special, or considered cool. And that’s a shame, because tinkering with an old car is therapeutic, and driving something around on a Sunday afternoon that you know how to fix, because you’ve fixed it all already, is a powerful feeling. It’s important to realize that you don’t need a Mustang or a Camaro or something to get that feeling; any old car that grabs your attention will work. So which one of these grabs your attention?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
27 days ago

Mercury. Purely because of ‘Mercury Blues’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54gFPTWja80

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
28 days ago

Meteor all the way. It’s running, with new brakes, clutch and tires. Seems like an easy choice to me. Plus, look at those sexy tailfins and groovy taillights.

Jon S
Jon S
28 days ago

Voted for the Fairlane because I’m not a fan of the Mercury’s tail fins.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
28 days ago

This is definitely a “both” day, but for voting purposes I’ll take the Fairlane. The interior alone seems like it would be worth the asking price. Assuming the rest of the car isn’t a total disaster (i.e. severe undercarriage rust) this is a very cool car for not much money.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
28 days ago

This was actually a very difficult one…I actually read it this morning, thought about it all day and now coming back to vote. Normally, it would be an automatic Mercury over Ford but with the rebuilt engine, nice interior and the color blue + patina the Fairlane had a lot going for it. Although, w/ the other work needing to be done, 4 doors, etc I’m going w/ the Mercury cuz I’m “crazy bout’ a Mercury!” It’s way more unique, has the better lights/body style, is a manual now, and has 2 doors. Any other work can be fixed/done to how I like it

James Carson
James Carson
28 days ago

Sweet old piles. It was hard to choose between them. For the virtual monet. I would take both.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
28 days ago

The mercury is more unique and ready to go as-is. Nothing against the Fairlane, but it is just a typical early 60’s Ford.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
28 days ago

Dad had a 500 but you know what they say four doors sell for less. So why is it mo money and mo problems?

Mike F.
Mike F.
28 days ago

Going for the Merc because of the tranny, because the name “Meteor” is much cooler than “Fairlane” and because I’d get to go pick it up in a town called Clackamas.

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
28 days ago

Late to the game cuz that Meteor post is gone, but that thing looks sweet! Had me at the straight 6. Only thing I’d like better is a 3 on the tree column shift, something I’ve yet to drive despite my age and history of owning crappy manuals

Myk El
Myk El
28 days ago

In this case, I am crazy ’bout a Mercury.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
28 days ago

Meteor for me since it seems to be in better shape and doesn’t have the slushbox.

And while the V8 Fairlane technically has way more power, that old 2 speed slushbox will sap a lot of the power and jack up the fuel consumption at the same time.

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
28 days ago

Two doors, a stick shift, better condition, cheaper price. Why is the vote margin not larger?

Jeep Liberty, MY LEG!
Jeep Liberty, MY LEG!
28 days ago
Reply to  FloridaNative

Implied mildew problems with the spackle presence. I voted for the Merc too but I wouldn’t doubt it smells funky in the wet season.

Last edited 28 days ago by Jeep Liberty, MY LEG!
JDE
JDE
28 days ago

the Meteor at least has built in theft deterrents, a clutch and a gutless motor. though I imagine the 260 with a 2 speed slush box is not all that much more sprightly.

10001010
10001010
28 days ago

A schooner is a sailboat, stupidhead!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
28 days ago
Reply to  10001010

It is also a glass of beer.

Church
Church
28 days ago

The Meteor is better, but I’m a sucker for early sixties Fords.

FrontWillDrive
FrontWillDrive
28 days ago

I’d have the Fairlane just for the opportunity to take it to shows with my dad and his 63 Galaxie police car replica (Mayberry style, but also has magnets for our home town where he’s been a cop since the 70s), and then run away from him at every light cause his Galaxie only has the 223 I6.

JDE
JDE
28 days ago
Reply to  FrontWillDrive

considering the Paint on it, a little tractor paint in white and black would not be a terribly bad thing to do to that old girl to match your dad.

FrontWillDrive
FrontWillDrive
28 days ago
Reply to  JDE

True! That would be fun!

XLEJim700
XLEJim700
28 days ago

The Meteor: star value.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
28 days ago

I’ll take the Mercury out of respect for Jimmy Thackery. When I see Ford Fairlane all I can think about is an infamous ’90’s comedian.

V10omous
V10omous
29 days ago

Inline sixes with no accessories in engine bays sized for big block V8s never stop being funny. It looks like you could fit 3 of them in there.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
28 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Crawl in and work on them. Sure beats modern engines with massive plastic covers and a bunch of crap crowding the engine bay.

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