1976 Mercury Monarch Tribute

My 1976 Mercury Monarch was my first car, and I have very fond memories of it. It was given to me by my grandparents, Peter and Inga Iwachewski in the summer of 1992, I believe. It was in great shape for a 16+ year old car, and only had about 40,000 miles on it. I promptly bought (what I thought was) a decent stereo for it, and had a great time just driving around.

Not long after I received it, the power steering pump died (mostly, anyway - from time to time it would come back to life for years) and made driving it quite difficult, considering the weight of the car. I never did fix it, and just "got used" to driving it. It was pretty much impossible for just about anyone else to drive after that.

The car got me through a lot of important times - a few summers at Dorion Bible Camp, my first sort-of real job, my first really real job, dating my future wife, going on our honeymoon, and bringing our first child home from the hospital.

Then one fateful Sunday morning during a cold February in 1998, while driving north on Tungsten St. I hit a pothole *bad*, and heard a terrible noise. I managed to drive her home, but the car was leaning badly to the left, and handled even worse than usual. I drove it to the shop where I had being taking her for work for the last year or so, and they (fairly politely) told me I had broken the front coil spring and the mount for the shock, and the shock itself, and it was time to retire the 'ol girl.

By this time we had been given my 1978 Lincoln Continental (by my generous father-in-law Wesley Judson), so I got the Monarch home, and left it in the backyard, and started driving the Continental from then on. I wanted to repair the Monarch.

I didn't start on it until summer '99, and didn't really finish all the work until summer 2000 - removing the old spring, installing a new (used $20) one, and putting the new shock absorber in. She was pretty difficult to start after all that time, but I did get her going, but the brakes had seized up solid. With the help of a hammer and a heavy foot, I did get her moving, but the brakes were shot, and the gas tank was leaking (still - it had been since late 1997, and I had already replaced the gas tank once), so she was in rough shape. I did take her for a spin around the block.

Summer 2001 we were selling our house (and the yard) where the Monarch had sat for more than 3 years, so I really had to get rid of her. She was very badly rusted by this point, particularly at the bottom of the doors on the driver's side. I took her for another spin around the block, gave her a last wash, bought a fresh can of spray paint and painted her up (over the rust and all), took some pictures, pulled off everything I could (Monarch logos, hubcaps, hood ornament) and had her towed away. I got $35 scrap for her.

Here's the pictures:

At first glance, you might not think she was very rusty. But it was really bad - as I said, I just painted over the rust right before I took these pictures. Check out my attempt at patching a large hole, right behind the front wheel, and how the chrome on the rear wheelwell is missing - it just plain rusted off!

Ain't she a beaut? Some people made disparaging remarks about the paint job, but I know a kid in Duluth in 1976 thought it was stunning.

Check out the hood ornament!

Close up...

This is as much of the driver's side as I took a picture of. It really was falling apart - I was just gently tapping the rear door with my foot, and my foot went through! Besides, I ran out of spraypaint before I could do that side.

Love those '70s lines.

The back bumper had a few holes in it. Plus the couple I drilled to put extra bolts in to keep the rear bumper from falling off - you can sort of see them just below and outside of the "M" and "H" in "Monarch". You can see the gas cap cover had fallen off, which held the letters "NAR". One of my friends always called my car the "MOCH" as a result. Oh yeah, once the rear licence plate dropped off due to rust. Figures, I got pulled over as I was driving back home to put it on again. Officer Adams also accused me of driving without my seat belt, but I was wearing it. At least it was only $50.

Let's take a look inside:

Here's the cool info tag that was inside the driver door. Paint colour 6U - that's what I got made for me at the spray paint store. Hey, look at GVWR - does that mean my car was over 2 tonnes? Cool!

A view from the driver's seat. Looking at the gear shift makes me think of how the "chrome" on it kept flaking off, and boy, those flakes were sharp! I always thought I'd get some sort of weird poisoning from those.

Close up of the odometer. Never even got close to rolling her.

Hard to see here, but the window rowing handle broke off, so I replaced it with a flowery kitchen drawer type handle for my wife. She liked it.

Spacious back seat, where Rianna spent many of her formative months. I particularly remember listening to Daniel Amos' "Motorcycle" album very loudly in the Superstore parking lot with Rianna in the back, in her baby seat. It either soothed or frightened her into silence.

That lovely 302 V-8. It still ran okay, but a light smoke came from somewhere below whenever I ran her in the last few years.

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Last Update: 2001.11.10
Robin Harbron - macbeth@tbaytel.net