Mercury Model M72A Eight Coupe
The Mercury Eight was the first model manufactured by Mercury. It was a full-size automobile produced from 1939 through 1951 and was the only model offered by Mercury until the company started producing multiple series in 1952. At that point, the Eight was dropped as a model designation.
Part of the early campaigns for the Mercury Eight showed that a big car could also be economical. The Eight was priced in the $1,000 range, which was several hundred dollars more than the Ford V8. It was several hundred dollars less than the Lincoln-Zephyr and about the same price point as the upper-range Hudsons, Oldsmobiles, and Dodges.
Beneath the hood was a 95-horsepower version of the Ford flathead V8 engine. The styling of the Mercury Eight was inspired by the Zephyr. Using hydraulic brakes from the beginning, the Eight had a wheelbase of 116 inches and an overall length of 196 inches. It was a reasonably sized car that offered up to 20 miles per gallon, which the Ford Motor Company advertised extensively.
The “Eight” script would not appear on the front hood until two years after its release, but advertisements and sales literature referred to the vehicle as the Mercury Eight from the start.
At the close of 1940, Mercury could proudly claim that 150,000 people had purchased their vehicle.
Later Versions of the Eight
In 1941, the Eight received some improvements to its engineering and new styling. To lower production costs, the Mercury shared its body shell with Ford. There were several refinements to the chassis, including improved spring lengths and rates. The front pillars were made slimmer which allowed the windshield to be widened and deepened with a steeper angle.
The Eights of 1942 had slender parking lights that replaced the rectangular units placed high on the fenders. The instrument panel was modified to feature a speedometer, a circular clock with gauges, a glove box, and a large cover for the radio speaker in the center.
After the war ended in 1945, the first Mercury was introduced in the 1949 model year. The engine inside was a flathead V8 that generated a bit more power than the 1949 Ford which was also newly designed. The creative styling of the Eight when it was released was successful in bringing an end to the monotony and lack of creativity that plagued many pre-war vehicles. Also, its impressive looks helped differentiate the Mercury from its close Ford cousin.
In 1950, a two-door Monterey that was considered high-end was presented in the same lane as the Ford Crestliner, the Lincoln Cosmopolitan Capri, and the Lincoln Lido. This was done to compete with the hardtop coupes that were manufactured by GM the previous year. The Monterey had become so popular that by 1952 it had become its own series.
The most noteworthy appearance of the Mercury Eight was in Rebel Without a Cause starring the legendary James Dean.