Q: Hi Greg. Recently our church and youth group was gifted with a 1956 Mercury Medalist and wondered why the front bumper has the spelling MERCrRY — note the lower case “r.” We have elderly family members that pronounce Mercury’s without the “u” sound and wondered if that is why?
Is this the model of the Mercury car? And, if our youth group restores this car do you know what the approximate value of a beauty like this will be?
Our church is Vineyard of Faith Lutheran Church in Windsor, California. The youth are engaged in a mentor ministry where they learn how to take cars apart and put them back together. They weld, use a wood lathe, build/repair go-karts, restore cars, build/repair motorcycles and work with plumbing and electricity, too. The youth gain integrity, care and respect for others and grow in their faith all while learning life skills.
I read your column in a Gatehouse Media article I found on a Google search about the Mercury Medalist. I am curious and intrigued.
— Tanna Felcher, Windsor, California
A: Tanna, thank you very much for your inquiry on your church youth group’s 1956 Mercury Medalist. Your ’56 Mercury Medalist looks to be in very good condition from the photos you sent of the exterior. It doesn’t seem to have much rust at all if any. I also applaud your church efforts in guiding your youth group in such a passionate undertaking. There’s nothing like the collector car hobby to bring together so many talents.
I don’t know what your Mercury looks like underneath, but I would suspect good because “rust buckets” show deterioration on the exterior, especially near rear and front windows, under the hood, front and rear fenders, and under body panels, etc. I see nothing really bad from the photos. Also, rust buckets are notorious for complete devastation of the trunk area, so when you open the trunk lid and you still see metal, that’s really good.
If you read my other columns available online at the Gatehouse Media sites, you’ll eventually find a column where I picked the 1955-56 Mercury as one of the very best designed cars from the 1950 decade. They are just plain good looking.
Also, in 1956 all Mercury cars went to a 12-volt charging system instead of a 6-volt, which is good for you.
Your Medalist is also a desirable two door model, be it sedan (with center post) or hardtop (no center post). These Mercurys bring nice money at the auctions and quite a bit more than the four-door models. However, the four door station wagons are worth very good money, and they keep going higher.
With this information, and seeing what good shape the body is in, I would say it is prudent for your youth group to do a restoration. With some nice paint (it looks like it was blue top and white bottom) it will be a beautiful example of a great looking car from the 1950s when you finish, and a wonderful tribute to the kids who do the work.
Remember, you can choose your own colors if you want to be a little different. My favorite was a white top and orange/tangerine bottom.
If you do change the colors from the original paint (numbers of original paint located on your manufacturer plate inside the door housing), some will tell you that the value of the car will drop. Although this may be true to a Mercury perfectionist, I feel it won’t drop the value that much. The engine is probably a 312 cubic-inch V8 and it has either a standard “three on the tree” manual transmission or an automatic.
In ending, that MERCrRY designation on the front is clearly some previous owner filling in for a lost “U” with an available lower case “r.” I note that the rear bumper has it spelled correct — MERCURY.
As for pricing, the original price of your Mercury Medalist in 1956 was $2,254. Today, a Medalist like yours in fair condition is worth $3,000, and then goes up to $8,500 for decent condition to $15,540 for top class condition. These prices are for the 312-V8 with 225 horses and an automatic transmission. If you car has the more powerful 260 horse 312, add another 10-percent.
Additionally, even though your car is listed as a top value of $15,540 by NADA pricing, a recent four-door ’56 Medalist went for near $19,000 at Barrett Jackson’s Palm Beach auction proving price guides are just that — a guide. As for the most valuable 1956 Mercurys, how about an upper-class Montclair two-door hardtop with a $40,000 and up value while a fully restored ’56 Monterey nine-passenger wagon will bring in the $85,000 range and up.
If you can arrange a photo of the Youth Group standing with the Mercury, I’ll run it in my column in the future. We can do a before and after photo.
Thanks for the photos and your’56 Mercury is worth restoring.
God bless you all.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at email@example.com.