He's heard "Chrysler," "Pontiac," "Impala," "some kind of Canadian Ford," but very few people are able to identify Dan Keene's mild custom for what it really is. One old fellow at the Pomona swap meet told him, "I've worked in gas stations my whole life and I've never seen one."
Dan was driving his '48 F-1 pickup around ROD & CUSTOM's Americruise 2000 in Lincoln, Nebraska, when he spotted the car. It didn't take him more than a glimpse of the left rear taillight to know immediately that it was a '60 Merc. He'd seen his first one, driven by a neighbor lady, when he was a kid and had always liked the body style, which he says "looks like it was customized straight from the factory."
When Dan found the car in Lincoln, it was wearing a coat of "vanilla shake" primer and had a "For Sale" sign stuck on the dash. Dan didn't even have to think about whether or not to buy the car-the only things to he needed to figure out were how he was going to pay for it and how he was going to get it home. He borrowed a few bucks from his buddies and got a cash advance on his credit card to buy it. Then he talked his friend Chris Risdon into driving the Merc 1,600 miles to Southern California.
The Merc had been in storage for 25 years before the previous owner purchased it, rebuilt the stock drivetrain and suspension, and added a set of 16-inch American Torq-Thrust IIs. The interior was pretty far gone, but the car was in excellent mechanical condition, free of rust, and complete, right down to the original stainless steel and chrome. "It just needed a little attitude change," as Dan put it.
Seeing no reason to redo the former owner's work, Dan left things alone on the chassis, except for dropping the car with 2-inch lowering blocks in the rear and 1 1/2-inch dropped spindles from DC Enterprises in front. Bruce Stedman installed 11-inch power discs in front along with a GM booster and master cylinder.
The original '60 Merc 383-inch two-barrel is backed up by the factory Merc-O-Matic, which was an option on the Monterey in 1960. Joe at De Anza Muffler Service in Riverside, California, built the custom exhaust which features a pair of two-chamber turbo mufflers and 2-inch aluminized pipes.
The only area in need of serious attention was the interior. The original black brocade seats were goners, so the split bench was rebuilt and covered in buckskin and beige Naugahyde by James at A&C Upholstery in Nuevo, California. An N.O.S headliner and nylon carpet freshened up the rest of the interior. Dan's friend Minna did the wiring and installed the Clarion sound system.
On the outside, Dan kept most of the trim pieces but cleaned the gunsight ornaments from the front fenders and eliminated any exterior lettering that would help people identify the car. He still runs the 16x8 Torq-Thrust IIs, shod with P225/60R16 radial rubber. Dan admitted, "I can paint but not well enough to please myself," so LaRo's Creations in Hemet, California, prepped the well-preserved body and shot the DuPont three-stage paint. The colors are Cadillac White Diamond Pearl with Smokey Carmel Metallic.
Dan has a hunch this is the only '60 Mercury Monterey custom out there. When it comes to bona fide "one-of-a-kind" customs, this is it.