The SUV of the 1960s

The 10-Passenger Mercury station wagon

During the 1960s many young parents bought station wagons, and George and Jean Dusheck were no exception. Their first wagon was a second-hand Ford. They discovered the utilitarian wagon concept worked well for their family. “We found that we liked wagons,” she says.

When the time came for a brand new vehicle the couple settled on the wagon of their dreams: a 1968 Mercury Colony Park. Its wood trim blended nicely with the medium gold metallic paint. An unusual optional extra on any station wagon was the black vinyl roof covering.

The 4,331-pound Mercury is 17-feet, 9.5 inches long and 6.5 feet wide. Such enormous dimensions were required to accommodate the 10 passengers that the car was advertised to carry. Behind the two conventional rows of seats is a pair of facing seats by the tailgate.

“It has pretty much everything,” Dusheck admits. Her Mercury Colony Park is equipped with an air conditioner, Merc-O-Matic, black vinyl roof, power steering, rear-facing seats, rear load leveler, deluxe interior, power disc brakes, radio, roof rack, 390 cubic-inch-displacement V-8 engine, tinted glass, white sidewall tires, visual check panel, rear seat speaker, deluxe seat belts, and a heavy-duty battery. With optional expenses added in, the purchase price was $5,576.55.

“It had a lot of class,” Dusheck says. She says she always was proud to be seen driving her Colony Park. The V-8 engine developed 315 horsepower to ensure she never lacked power to move her big car. Torque was off the chart measured at 427 lb.-ft. at 2,800 rpm.

The Mercury had the famous Ford patented three-way tailgate enabling the rear door to drop as a tailgate, swing open to the side as a door or remain closed with the glass rear window being lowered into the tailgate. The rear bumper has two rubber steps built in to assist access to the side facing rear seats. Surprisingly, the well-optioned Colony Park does not have power windows. The hand cranks, however, work quite well.

“I always felt good in it — and I always felt safe in it, too.” Jean Dusheck says.

She used her wagon the way most moms did — driving her daughter to school, to scouts, to music lessons, to sports activities and one memorable year, to birthday parties. The family’s English sheep dog appreciated the cavernous cargo area on the way to several events in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

“As the years went by, we found that we didn’t need that big car,” Dusheck explains.

Because the Mercury delivered gas mileage of about 12 mpg the decision was easily made when the gasoline crunch came in the early 1970s to take their big, thirsty, Mercury with its four-barrel carburetor out of service, until the price of gasoline came back down. The original plan was to return the car to daily service after the gas prices returned to normal. A small, thrifty, import was purchased for the duration. The big car was put away with the odometer having just rolled over 39,000 miles.

The car in the garage almost was forgotten until 2002. While cleaning house, they decided they were never going to get the Mercury back on the road for their own use. They put the powerful car back in roadworthy condition and sold it in virtually like-new condition.

— Vern Parker, Motor Matters

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2018

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