Home » In Canada, Mercury Was A Totally Different Brand And These Oddball Cars Prove it

In Canada, Mercury Was A Totally Different Brand And These Oddball Cars Prove it

Mercury Monday Canada Ts
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Back in the golden era of classic American cars, each division of Ford basically did what it wanted. We’re talking unique engines, unique styling, and unique gadgets to maintain distinct brand identity. North of the border though, oh boy, did things ever get weird. We’re talking Mercury vehicles that weren’t badged as Mercurys or Fords, non-Mercury vehicles badged as Mercurys, and enough brand confusion to absolutely, well, confound.

See, Mercury dealerships and Ford dealerships were different dealerships, and with Canada’s great distances and light density compared to America, simply popping next door to go look at a different Ford Motor Company brand wasn’t always an option. Therefore, dealers of either marque wanted full lines of vehicles, and for a surprisingly long while, that’s exactly what they got.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Yep, welcome to a special Canadian edition of Mercury Monday, a series that we admittedly dropped the ball on a year ago. Look, we’re only human, life gets busy, new ideas are worth trying, and sometimes old ones get forgotten. Let’s make up for lost time, shall we?

A Smaller Number

Mercury 114

Back in the day, each division of most Detroit automakers enjoyed a fair degree of autonomy. We’re talking unique engines, bodies, and platforms typically not shared with any other brand. However, there are always exceptions, and if we want to talk about badge engineering, we’ll need to talk about the Mercury 114. Launched for 1946, this hastily re-styled Ford filled a critical role in Mercury’s Canadian lineup, and Ford’s happy to tell you about it.

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Because Ford was in the low-priced field, it was more popular in Canada than the medium-priced Mercury. So that the new Mercury dealers could get a piece of the low-priced action, a smaller lower cost Mercury line emerged. This new Mercury needed a name to set it apart from its larger sibling. So, it bore the title Mercury 114 – a reference to its Ford wheelbase in inches. Therefore, the larger Mercury was known in Canada as the Mercury 118, its wheelbase length.

That all makes perfect sense, and the result was a car that actually sold pretty well. Sales peaked in 1947 with 10,393 sold, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot, Canada’s market is pretty tiny. It was enough that Mercury knew a hit-making recipe, and that recipe would blossom into a full buffet of cars under the Meteor brand. However, since those were rebadged Fords that weren’t sold under the Mercury brand, let’s keep things on topic by talking about Mercury cars that aren’t Mercury cars, but in the other direction.

Meet The Monarch

Access 1946 Monarch Ar 2007 5 002

On March 23, 1946, those shopping at Canadian Ford dealerships would discover a car that looked a bit like a Mercury from a brand new make. Indeed, aside from its trim package, grille treatment, its dashboard, and some of its lighting, it was a 1946 Mercury. However, it wasn’t called that. It was called the Monarch, because pandering. Look, it was 1946. Newfoundland and Labrador wasn’t even a province, Canada’s flag still had a British ensign on it, and the war was still part of recent memory. Who could blame Ford for pulling the motherland card when marketing the steamed hams of Mercurys? Well, guess what — it worked.

Access 1946 Monarch Ar 2007 5 009

Sure, the original Monarch may have been $10 more expensive than a comparable Mercury, and its Mercury V8 may have been slightly de-rated, but this exercise in badge engineering managed to outsell Studebaker in its first year on the market. The experiment was working, and it was working well enough to continue.

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Access 1949 Monarch Sport Sedan Ar 2007 5 004

A radical redesign for the 1949 model year saw a greater brand identity emerge — the Monarch was still a Mercury, but it had its own grille, its own brightwork, a Mercury dashboard instead of a Ford dashboard, and its own hood ornament. Guess what? It sold even better.

Access 1953 Monarch Ar 2007 5 001

By 1953, Monarch was outselling Mercury, and it looked like a brand that was here to stay. It eventually gained a full range of models, from the base Custom to the loaded Custom Lucerne, a full range of bodystyles including one with a plexiglass top, and looked properly established. Then a little something called the Edsel came along.

Access 1960 Ford Canada Monarch Two Door Hardtop Neg C1027 1

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Yep, for 1958, Canadian Ford dealers decided to sell the Edsel brand and retire the Monarch nameplate. After all, the two makes were positioned similarly, and the whole Edsel effort felt a little less hasty than simply rebadging another division’s models. However, we all know how the Edsel was received by the public, so Monarch came back from the dead for 1959, sticking around through 1961, at which point Ford decided it could do its own moderately upmarket large cars in Canada.

Truck It

1946 Mercury Trucks 01 Copy

The same postwar zeitgeist that spawned the Mercury 114 and the Monarch also worked to fill a very different sort of gap. See, before Canada was primarily a service economy, it had a whole bunch of rural communities, and those rural communities needed trucks. Ford had trucks, Mercury didn’t, and that was a problem given that many communities didn’t have dealers for both marques. So, screw it, why not just rebadge Ford pickup trucks as Mercury models? Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what happened.

With production kicking off in 1946, the Mercury M-Series was a rebadged line of Ford F-Series trucks with new grilles, badges, and that was basically it. Even chunks of the model names were recycled, as the numbers after the M (for instance, M-47) were identical to those on a Ford F-Series.

1964 Mercury 1964 Ford Mercury Econoline 20230523 183538 83664

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Unsurprisingly, this worked brilliantly, to the point where the lineup became a fixture of Canadian roads. We’re talking heavy duty commercial trucks all the way down to half-ton pickups, and all the way out to vans. You could even get a Mercury-branded Econoline at one point, imaginatively called the Econoline EM-Series.

16251127 1967 Mercury Pickup Std

However, by 1968, the Mercury truck experiment was over. The United States and Canada had signed the Auto Pact back in 1965, a trade deal to tear down tariffs on motor vehicles and their parts between the two countries. As a result, Canada quickly became a huge exporter of vehicles thanks to cheaper labor costs, and it made more sense to expand of reconsolidate dealership franchises and build Ford F-Series trucks in Canada for the world, rather than simply build M-Series pickup trucks for Canada.

Oh, Canada

In the end, these rebadged Fords and oddly badged Mercury models serve as rolling reminders of a time gone by, when the big three truly ruled the North American continent and the right sort of vacuum existed to build proper weirdness.

Some people don’t know what an appendix does, but many of us still have ours. Few people outside of Canada know why M-Series pickup trucks used to roam the plains of Alberta, but a handful of these trucks are still out there, be it weathering in fields or shining in car shows. It’s the same deal for Monarchs, which makes it perhaps all the more critical that we try to preserve, enjoy, and share these vehicles.

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(Photo credits: Ford Motor Company, Bring A Trailer, classiccars.com)

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BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
11 days ago

An Unfinished Life, a Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, JLo movie features a Mercury pickup prominently. It confused my wife until I explained that they were a thing in Canadia. Not a great movie, but not terrible either.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
11 days ago

Funny how the Monarch name came to the US as the Mercury version of the 1970’s Ford Granada.
Meanwhile, the cars that would have been badged as Montereys here in the States during the 60’s and early 70’s were known as Meteors and Rideaus in Canada – but the Marquis was branded as such in Canada too (one assumes it was quite popular in Quebec)

Luxobarge
Luxobarge
11 days ago

If any of you are fans of the TV show Resident Alien–and you should be if you aren’t!–one of the clues that the show is shot in Canada (even though it’s set in Colorado) is that one of characters drives a vintage Mercury M-100 pickup.

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
11 days ago

Great article! Maybe we need one on GM’s failed brand in Canada – called Asüna, to be a companion piece.

Fuzz
Fuzz
11 days ago

My dad used to have a Mercury Cougar, which were like the fancy pants version of a Mustang.

TheDrunkenWrench
TheDrunkenWrench
11 days ago

Well, if I had money, I’d tell you what I’d do, I’d go downtown & buy a Mercury or two.

I do love our Canadian market-only cars. We’ve had some cool iron over the decades.

CSRoad
CSRoad
12 days ago

This outlines the basic tariff problem that spawned various work arounds for US companies, they weren’t part of the British Empire.
This assembly plant building still exists a few blocks from my house.
Walkerville Wagon was to become Ford in Windsor, Ontario and the London plant became a showroom and parts distribution hub until 1938.
https://images.ourontario.ca/london/2296330/data?n=1
The building still stands unlike the St. Thomas Assembly Plant at Talbotville, On., which is long gone.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
12 days ago

Saw a quite nice early 60s Mercury pickup at a large Cars & Coffee some years back. Owner’s father bought it in Detroit years back. That’s the day I learned a bit about the badge-engineering that had gone on

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
12 days ago

How could a discussion of weird Canadian Fords and Mercurys go w/o mentioning Meteor, which replaced the Mercury 114 with a new Brand. Just like the 114 it was a “low priced” car based on the Ford body shell, with a unique grill and some Mercury bits. That is why Ford dealers cried foul, demanded an upscale companion brand and ended up with the Monarch brand.

Citrus
Citrus
12 days ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

Also the ’61 Meteor has superb taillights.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
12 days ago

“Mercury Monday, a series that we admittedly dropped the ball on a year ago.”
That’s quite all right, as someone who has had some singularly unpleasant experiences with FoMoCo products including Mercurys I didn’t mind the ball being dropped though I do admit some of these posts were indeed interesting. However, if you all do resume the Mercury Monday series could you all add Tatra Tuesday *and* Tatra Thursday? There’s indeed sufficient material out there about the entire Tatra oeuvre for such a bi-weekly series to run for a good while 🙂
That said, that was actually pretty interesting about these Canadian Mercurys and the Canadian market back in those days. There used to be someone somewhat local to where I live, in the Southeast, who would collect cars sold in the US which had counterparts sold in Canada and he would replace his USDM cars’ badging with CDM badging; most of his cars were GM products with one of his favorites being the Pontiac Firefly (sold in the US as the Geo Metro and the Chevy Sprint.)

Holly Birge
Holly Birge
12 days ago

Oh there was all kinds of auto weirdness up here in Canada. Go check out Canadian Pontiac, notably the Parisienne.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
11 days ago
Reply to  Holly Birge

And on the Chrysler side, there were ‘Plodges’…

Pat Rich
Pat Rich
12 days ago

There is one that lives near me that does regular home depot duty
https://photos.app.goo.gl/h77FcdvLWYjHbdAHA

Gene1969
Gene1969
12 days ago
Reply to  Pat Rich

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
12 days ago

I know summer is coming. Is this rerun season? I think the article and most of the cars have appeared here before?

Car Guy - RHM
Car Guy - RHM
12 days ago

Then Dodge had the Fargo

Gene1969
Gene1969
12 days ago
Reply to  Car Guy - RHM

Yah. You betcha!

LTDScott
LTDScott
12 days ago

I am sad to see you didn’t mention the Frontenac which was a separate marque they created to sell the Ford Falcon in Canadian Mercury-Meteor dealers. I only know about this because someone actually raced one in The 24 Hours of Lemons a few years back:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frontenac_(marque)

Here’s a suggestion for Mercedes’ Holy Grails: The Mercury Marquis LTS – a Mercury version of the 1984-1985 Ford LTD LX (which is itself a holy grail) of which only 134 examples were built and only sold in Canada. I’ve seen some people say it may be one of the rarest Mercury variants ever.

https://flic.kr/p/Tx9xYE

Chewcudda
Chewcudda
12 days ago

I know of one Mercury truck that made its way to Southern California.

LTDScott
LTDScott
12 days ago
Reply to  Chewcudda

I’ve seen at least 3 at Ford shows in the L.A. area.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
12 days ago

Mercury mon Dieu!

Griznant
Griznant
12 days ago

I will keep beating this drum: The YouTube channel, ColdWarMotors is squarely in the wheelhouse of Autopians. Those guys have the odd cars, the Canadian cars, they daily the strangest things, winter “beat” stranger things, and do a host of Will It Runs and restorations that are absolutely first rate. If you aren’t checking them out, you’re really missing a bunch of fun with a great bunch of friends who just live “cars”. The contributors HAVE Mercury trucks, Acadians, “Plodges”, Monarchs, Meteors, etc. so you’d be getting real world accounts of the cars featured in this article.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
12 days ago
Reply to  Griznant

May I also suggest fellow Canadian channels Halfass Kustoms and DD Speed Shop in the same vein.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
12 days ago

One day you should do a similar article about how GM did this too, especially with the Pontiac lines. Maybe Pontiac Pthursday. Yep, silent P like in the ptarmigan.

Last edited 12 days ago by IanGTCS
Gubbin
Gubbin
12 days ago
Reply to  IanGTCS

Ptarmigan as in Chicken, Alaska?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
12 days ago
Reply to  IanGTCS

GM did get weird in Canada – Acadian and Beaumont in the ’60s, and then later, the whole Passport and Asuna thing in the ’80s. Also, the prewar McLaughlin-Buicks (incidentally, the McLaughlins were the closest thing GM had to a “founding family”, given that Billy Durant was kicked out pretty early on and the founders of the various other divisions left after working for Durant – Col. Samuel McLaughlin CC ED CD was chairman of GM Canada until his death in 1972).

Last edited 12 days ago by Ranwhenparked
Robot Turds
Robot Turds
12 days ago

I have a 1955 Mercury Monterey and something I’ve noticed in vintage old car land is that even though Mercury was a fairly popular and high volume seller I seldom see them either in the wild or at any car shows. Its like they disappeared or something. I have seen a total of ONE other Monterey in the wild in the 20+ years I’ve owned mine.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
12 days ago

One of these Mercury Mondays should be spent on that “other” Mercury, the one that makes boat engines out of car engines.

CrystalEyes
CrystalEyes
12 days ago

Seconded!

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