Name: 1968 Mercury Monterey Convertible
Year Produced: 1967-1968
Number Built: 1,112
Body Type: 4 door sedan
Engine: 428 cu in (7.0 liter) V8
Power: 265 hp
0-60mph: 4.9 seconds
Top Speed: 117 mph
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Length/width/height: 220.1 in/77.9 in/55.1 in
Wheelbase: 123 in
It was common for law enforcement agents during the 1960s to ride on a vehicle that can make head turns. Why not? After all, such imposing role demands an equally impressive ride. Even hot rodders of the day understood the power and speed that these vehicles have in them.
So why does law enforcement agencies choose the Mercury over others as their vehicle of choice? Curbside Classic’s Jason Shafer explains. “To begin with, they had a minimum requirement for wheelbase length, typically 122 to 124 inches. Contemporary Fords literally fell short, as the wheelbase on a 1968 Galaxie spanned only 119 inches. Thus, the 1968 Mercury riding a 123″ wheelbase met this standard while retaining the selling points of Ford reliability and durability.The rationale for such a long wheelbase reflected the perception that length equaled stability. When you had to chase a new Charger at triple-digit speeds, you didn’t want your chariot getting squirrelly–never mind that your steed might be as long as a wagon track.”
The Mercury’s heartbeat was powered by a 390 cubic inch (6.5 liter) V8, with a rated horsepower of 265 on a manual transmission and 280 on an automatic. Interestingly, the 390 revs it up at 315 horsepower when installed in a Park Lane. To complete the package, nearly 100% of full-sized 1968 Mercurys comes with power steering – everything that your friendly local police needed for a high speed chase.
True enough, the Mercury was a sensation of its time. A total of 55,000 of all body styles of this full-size base series were manufactured and sold in 1968. The mid-level Montclair which is the least popular ran only with 15,000 two- and four-door hardtops and four-door sedans, followed by the top-end Park Lane with just over 20,000 units, and convertibles at 1,112 units.
Eventually, the glory days of the Mercury reached its twilight when The Missouri Highway Patrol opted for the Panther platform Marquis at the beginning of 1980. As of to date. there is a pristine ’78 Marquis patrol car at the highway patrol museum in Jefferson City, presented as the last full-sized car used by the agency.