1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

Mercury Turnpike Cruiser; Part 1 Kris Kringle Car Show Franklin, TN

Just the name says it all. It was the late 1950s and America was just beginning to really discover the open road and Detroit was building cars the flew down the road. The general population was intrigued with space ships and luxury cruise ships. All was good in the World and we were set to take off. What better name for a top of the line road King than Turnpike Cruiser? Mercury was the step up from the everymans’s Ford. Never was it said more clearly than with the 57 and 58 Turnpike Cruisers. Here are a couple of similar examples. The first was photographed at the 2011 Kris Kringle Car Show in Franklin, TN and the other was photographed at the 2009 Good Guys Show in Des Moines, IA.

Hope you enjoy these as much as did!

Mercury Turnpike Cruiser; Part 2 Des Moines Good Guys Show

As we mentioned above America of the 50s and 60s was fascinated with anything that flew or went into space. It was the beginning of the space age and everyone wanted to be apart of it. It seemed like every car wanted to be a space ship. Arguably, one car from Mercury may have been the best example. It was the 1957/1958 Turnpike Cruiser.

Sometimes show cars led the way to what future models may look like other times manufactures would design the production car and then build the show car to extreme and measure the public’s reaction. It also proved customers with a hint of what was to come. The 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was an original. The show car it most resembled, the experimental XM-Turnpike Cruiser of 1956, came after the basic production design had been developed.


The 1957 and 1958 Mercury Turnpike Cruisers were a halo models for the Mercury Division. At introduction of the 1957 line up the Turnpike Cruiser series offered two and a four door hardtop body styles.

They might best be described as the Jetsons meet Detroit. They are remembered for the unique styling cues and wide array of gadgets including a power rear window that could be lowered to improve ventilation, “twin jet” air intakes at the upper corners of the front windshield, “seat-o-matic” automatically adjusting seat, and an average speed “computer”.

For 1957, the Turnpike Cruiser was the premium model range for Mercury being differentiated from other Mercury models by the gold anodized trim strip in the car’s rear fin. It came standard with an automatic transmission and a 368-c.i.d. engine producing 290 horsepower.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

Later in the model year an open car named Convertible Cruiser was added to this series. It was created to be used only as the official pace car of the 1957 Indianapolis 500. On January 7, 1957 it was announced that the Convertible Cruiser would be available as a production model as well. All Convertible cruisers had a continental tire kit and were painted yellow (Sun Glitter), similar to the original pace cars.

In 1958 the Turnpike Cruiser received only minor trim changes and the convertible was no longer offered. Standard engine became the 383-c.i.d. “Marauder” engine, with the 430-c.i.d., 360 horsepower version available as an option. A triple-carburetor “Super Marauder” 400 horsepower version was available across the Mercury line.

The Turnpike Cruiser was discontinued for 1959. However from 1963 to 1966 Mercury revived the Turnpike Cruiser’s most noted feature, the retractable rear window, on its “Breezeway” sub-series in the Monterey, Montclair and Park Lane model ranges.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

The photos here were taken of this 1957 Turnpike Cruiser at the 2009 Good Guys Show in Des Moines, Iowa. Unfortunately, the rain would not hold off for the photos and the cars excellent paint got to show off its ability to bead water.

This is a well restored example of a car many of you may have never seen. In fact many may have never even heard of a Turnpike Cruiser before.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier


1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

The Big “M”

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

These air vents were the big design element for this car.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

“Hood Ornament” for the rear deck.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

Power down rear window!

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier


1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

These dual rear antennas were very big back in the day.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

Close up of the outside of the vent.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

This is what that vent looks like on the inside.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier

These wheels ARE NOT originals but look great for a Good Guys Show.

1957 Mercury Turnpike Crusier


  1. Many historic automotive enthusiasts like to say that the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser along with the Edsel was proof that America rejected these cars for over the top styling excesses that proves they were failures. When you look at these cars, especially this black Turnpike Merc, ugly or over the top just does not apply!

    This car is magnificent, and if I were in the market for a medium price set of wheels, this is the one I would have been placing my money on! When you look at what was out there at the time, nothing comes close to the Cruiser. That beautiful projectile down the side quarters to the tailamps was simply beautiful. The covering over the rear window, the projectiles out of the roof in front, that amazing windshield, the rear window that lowered behind the rear seat for ventiliation, and those beautiful fender skirts with thin outline molding – the car was just beautiful. In this color black, the car is stunning!

    I know that people will get into arguments over their favorite car from this period, but if people think this car had styling excesses, how about the “forward look” Mopar products, and how about the tailfinned excesses of the GM products.

    This beautiful restored Merc proves all of these years later, that these cars were unappreciated in their time; ahead of their time, and will be given their proper place as valuable classics. The Edsel is in the same category, that what was underappreciated in its time, comes back and proves they shine among those cars from the period.

    Yes, I would have purchased a Mercury Turnpike Crusier just as pictured for my ride, and I know that it would have been enjoyed and admired!

  2. This was a magnificent automobile. My uncle owned the Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Jonesboro, AR at the time, and he sold my dad a new car about every year or two. We had suicide door Mercs, a 53 2-door Lincoln Capri with the OHV V-8, a 55 and 56 Mercury Monterey and finally after a trip to Jonesboro, we ended up with a lt. blue with black top Turnpike Cruiser. It was a great car except the air conditioner (factory) would freeze up. We’d have to go about ten miles with the windows and back window down to let the AC thaw out. My uncle sold the LM dealership and we kept the TC for about three years before trading it for a 61 Chrysler Newport. An old black lady in the community bought it and it was around town for years. In about 69 when I was 19, I stopped by her home and asked her favor, “could I drive the car.” Eight or nine years of minimal maintenance was telling on the car when I drove it … it was pretty rough … squeaks and pops in the suspension – never had shocks replaced… some tears in the upholstery. I thanked her but I do wish my dad had done as he threatened – put the car on blocks and keep it. But as the seven-ten year old car fanatic, it was a great car; It was a fun car – it had the first tachometer in a car I ever saw – and also had push-button drive (Most folks associate that kind of transmission control with Chrysler but this TP cruiser had it. The images like the “M” in the front grill, the gold in the design element of the tail light, the airvent and the quad-headlight assembly are all design cues that strike my memories as parts of the care that were really special.

  3. I remember it well. This was my car back in 1957. Of course, the color was somewhat different … all white with gold trim. Red and white interior. 0 to 60 in seven seconds flat … just a car length behind a Dodge back in those days, but with a higher top end. Built for cruising, and we did … didn’t we? All we needed was a few bucks for gas. Seeing the price back then blows me away. To think that we’d be driving Japanese after all these years.
    Thanks for the memories.

  4. I wanted to add an additional thought to my earlier piece covering the beautiful 57 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser showcased in black above. I like the 1957 better than the 1958 model, but had I been around driving age and with some money in the late 1950’s, ordering a 58 Cruiser with the amazing Super Marauder engine option with the tri-power may have been the car of choice. It can be debated, but it is possible that a 58 Merc with super marauder engine could be the first true muscle car out of Detroit. 400 horsepower is hard to beat in the late 1950’s right out of the factory. Yea, a 1958 in black just like the above black 57 would be something to behold!

  5. I drove a 57 Merc to college in 1962. In high school, it was my Dad’s car. It was fun when friends came home from the dragstrip with a trophy only to have me blow them away in the big Mercury. A chevy 409 4 speed tried racing me on the way home from college one weekend. They were running 130 on their speedometer when I pushed the “drive button” allowing the automatic to shift to 3rd gear. My Merc speedometer was grossly inaccurate above 70 mph. When the 409 would only run 130, my speedometer was registering 84. A 57 buick was topped out at 115 when I passed at an indicated 78. Yes, I could peg my red ribbon speedometer … in fact, once, it took 3 seconds of no throttle for it to start moving below 120. My dad was driving that time. We covered 15 miles in roughly 6 minutes and he was not paying attention to the speedometer. He frequently drove in the 80-110 mph range. By the way, this was out west and we saw no other cars on the road during that run.

  6. I remember Mercury sponsoring the Ed Sullivan Show when this car was current. I’m pretty sure that the ’57 Merc’, and only some models, were the first cars to have quad headlights. It wasn’t until ’58 that the other brands had ‘four eyes’. In 1960 one of the ‘big guys’ in town had a ’57 or ’58 Merc’ ragtop. I remember looking under the hood and seeing the biggest engine I’d ever seen in my short life. I recall a huge breather housing for the air filter that must have been the diameter of a small dining room table. I’m usually on my bicycle these days but man, I love BIG Detroit V8’s!

  7. I left out a word. It should have read:

    I just BOUGHT the maroon 1957 Turnpike Cruiser that was listed on bringatrailer.com. I just love the period correct excess.


  8. I saw one of these today at a show in Port Elgin Ontario Can. I`ve never seen one before,wasn`t the best restoration, but in my opinion the coolest car there…you could just imagine cruising down the open highway…wish I could time travel…

  9. I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 1957 Mercury was a very stylish car, mostly due to its excesses. Although I was only 6 at the time, I already knew how to distinguish one. Then, in 1960, my great-parents moved into a building in a city at the seacoast, where people used to have housing for holiday & vacation. One day, I found a 1957 Mercury Monterey 4-door hardtop, salmon & beige parked inside the building. Although only 8, I was crazy for the design of the car and knew it was a ’57. It had the one-headlight scheme, instead of the two-headlight of the Turnpike Cruiser. Luckly, the next day I met a girl my age, who was the daughter of the Mercury’s owner. She was red-haired, full of freckles, and I convinced to pick the keys with her father and open the car so I could see and sit inside, what she did. Soon that little girl with a bunch of keys in her hand was back, and opened the door for me! Although I loved her, I actually fell in love with the car! Compared to the minimal VW Beetle my father owned, it was a marvelous transatlantic vessel. Ah, good memories!

  10. I had a white with gold trim ’57 Turnpike Cruiser with fender skirts. Had a rolled and pleated white leather interior. Had a lot of interesting cars since but this was the most distinctive. Been to many classic car shows and auctions and have not seen one yet.

  11. We had a white with gold trim Turnpike Cruiser which my parents let me take to the prom. Since the speedometer top out at 150 mph, I had to see if it would actually do that. When I got it to 141, things were coming up too fast for me and I backed it down. I haven’t driven a car that fast since.

  12. To who may concern I have a 1957 Lincoln Premier 2dr hardtop that belonged to my father I’m in the works of fixing up like wanted I’m looking for info on how the mercury skirts are attached. I’m putting a continental kit on the car also. I’m needing this info so to have the car going to give him a ride in it before he passes away he 79yrs old with a bad hart thank for your time and all info will greatly appreciated George Hance.
    231 cr 3100 Salem Mo. 65560

  13. We had a 4 door ’57 when I was younger. It was great for going to the drive in. We’d roll the rear window down and sit on the rear of the car, leaning on the roof, our feet dangling down the back seat. I’d love to have another one, but I’d insist on getting air conditioning in there somehow! Most powerful car I think I/we ever owned.

  14. Here in 2020, as I sit at my computer and reminisce at age 90, I vividly recall that when I was going to university in British Columbia, Canada, in the 1950’s, I sold new cars in the Summer at the local Meteor/Mercury/Lincoln Dealership in downtown Vancouver so I could earn my tuition money. One day a mid thirty year old logger ( not married ), came into the Dealership and literally fell in love with a golden/bronze four door T P C sitting on the showroom floor. We took it for a test drive, and on return he immediately purchased it for ” cash “. ( To slightly digress, if you are old enough to remember, there was a famous ” story teller ” on the radio in those days—-Walter Winchell—who would start his program with a story, then pause for commercial , and come back and say—-” And now for the rest of the story ” ). Well, this is my ” rest of the story ” His first name was Dennis, and we became good friends. About a month or so after buying the car, ( now into early September and I had just returned to my studies ), he phoned me and said he was going to a logging camp up the B C coast for several months, and would I look after his car for him as he did not have a permanent address in town. I was overwhelmed and said yes—–his condition was that I could periodically use it on weekends for pleasure, but NOT take it to the university campus. I readily agreed, and for several months drove this ” beauty ” on Saturdays and Sundays . After his stint in the woods, he returned to Vancouver, picked up his car and left with it for a trip into the U S A FACT

  15. Barry, great story. For a 90 year old your memory is quite good with one exception. That wasn’t Walter Winchell, it was Paul Harvey who did the “Rest of the Story”. Thanks again for your memories.

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