A lot of people like to joke about the dark days of the car industry in the 1970s, and if you're one of them, please take a good, long look at this 1976 Mercury Monarch Ghia. With just 8215 original miles (not a misprint), it looks, drives, and feels like a brand new car. And guess what? It's actually a pretty great car.
For reasons nobody knows, someone put this Mercury Monarch away for posterity and it's about as close to new as you'll ever find. Nobody was saving these cars, but finding one this remarkably well preserved and with so few miles is always extraordinary. The white paint shines with that soft gloss that comes from '70s enamel, and even though it has been polished and sanded and buffed, it still looks exactly right. Ford threw the Ghia name around a lot, hoping that an Italian designer's name would add some cachet to their lineup, and with the vinyl half-roof on this Monarch, it does look dressed up. Obviously it has never been hit or wrecked and there's joy in the way the doors close precisely and the way everything feels virtually new. The chrome shines, the grille is in excellent shape, the lenses are still brilliant, and even the pinstripes are crisp and clear, not buffed away. It really is like a brand new 40-year-old car!
The maroon bucket seats were part of the Ghia package and we have to admit that the interior is a bit more sporting than we expected. The seats, of course, are in like-new condition, still firm and comfortable and there are virtually zero scuff marks or creases in the upholstery. Sure, there's plenty of fake burled walnut and the very rectangular dash seems basic to us today, but when you slide behind the wheel and everything moves with precision and feels fresh, well, your opinion might change. And a Mercury Monarch with a console and a T-handle shifter is pretty darned cool! This car is loaded with options and everything seems to work, including ice cold A/C, an AM/FM radio, those cool warning lights down on the console, and a digital clock for the passenger. Color-matched floor mats have been protecting the carpets for years and it appears that even the spare tire in the trunk is original.
Ford's familiar 302 cubic inch V8 lives under the hood, and it's as torquey here as it was in the later 5.0s. Ok, not quite that powerful, but enough that the Monarch feels quick and nimble around town. It's also incredibly smooth, so much so that you almost can't feel it at idle. Sounds are muted from beyond the firewall and you're reminded that luxury in the 1970s was all about isolation, not involvement. As such, the steering feels smooth and effortless and the brakes are surprisingly powerful. The 3-speed automatic transmission shifts almost imperceptibly and it's got tall highway gears out back that make it an easy cruiser at any speed (although it looks like long trips were not on this particular car's agenda). The underside is exactly as it was when it was delivered, with spotless floors, correct markings, and an exhaust system with a mellow, quiet tone that's entirely appropriate. Handsome Magnum 500-style wheels make the Monarch look sporty, and they're fitted with recent 195/75/14 whitewall radials that might only be the second set of tires this car has ever worn.
Heavily documented with an original build sheet, bill of sale, title documentation, and a Marti Report, this is a neat find that will always draw a crowd at shows. Where else can you buy a brand new car with a V8 for so little cash? Call today!