Mercury, a division of Ford Motor Company, had always been intended to fill the slot between Ford and Lincoln. But being the middle-child isn't always very easy. Mercury's Park Lane was meant to fill a gap as well but seemed to never truly find its place. The Park Lane, specifically, couldn't be figured out. Either it was a higher-priced Ford, or, a less-expensive Lincoln.
Mercury introduced the Park Lane to the public in 1958. The full-size car was part of Mercury's premium line of automobiles. In body styling, the car was similar to that of Mercury's lower-end car, the Monterey. Mercury unveiled the Park Lane as the Buick Roadmaster's competition.
The car was made available in a few different body styles. Mercury made the Park Lane as a hardtop sedan, a hardtop coupe, and also a convertible. It featured a wrap-around rear window and an airplane-styled dash filled with knobs and pushbuttons.
The exterior of the car featured a wide grille and a side-by-side headlamp arrangement. The headlamps were covered by 'eyelids' that extended out a good distance. The Park Lane came with a forward-lifting hood, low-arcing wheel wells, and a sharply-finned tail-end.
The big car came with a big engine. It came with a four-barrel carburetor and a 7-liter, 345 hp, V-8. It also came with a Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic transmission and a price between $3900 and $4,200.
All-in-all, sales for the Park Lane weren't all that impressive. Only about 9,000 units sold in its first year. The Park Lane struggled to fill the gap. Many people noted its very close similarity to the cheaper Monterey. The only readily recognizable difference between the two was that the Park Lane had an increased level of trim applied to its exterior.
The Park Lane struggled on for another couple of years until it was 'put out to pasture' between 1961 and 1964. Poor sales and all-around lack of interest led Mercury to focus on its lower-end car models, like the Monterey and Meteor 800.
Then, in 1964, the Park Lane name was re-introduced to the public. Again, Mercury was trying to fill a gap between Ford and Lincoln. The problem with being stuck in the middle is the general lack of inspiration and separation. The design and the car's features needed to be something of its own, and not borrowed and merely repackaged. One of those design features 'borrowed' for the Park Lane during the second generation production run was Ford's 'slantback' roof design. This was known as the 'Marauder Package'. This did little to help the Park Lane sell. Mercury needed something different that would help make the Park Lane identifiable.
The attempt at greater visibility within the public's imagination was called the 'Brougham'. The Park Lane Brougham was a Park Lane model offering more luxurious trim appointments throughout the car. First introduced in 1967, the Park Lane Brougham became Mercury's flagship.
The Brougham model enjoyed moderate success, but, in-the-end failed to truly set the Park Lane apart in the mind of the public. Though it was Mercury's top-of-the-line model, it was only a couple hundred dollars more expensive than Ford's Galaxie 500. As a result of this identity crisis, Mercury retired the Park Lane after 1968. For the 1969 model year, Mercury had completely redesigned its line of full-size cars.
Though officially retired, the Park Lane name has continued to live on and has made some encore appearances, but as a sub-model. Mercury's Grand Marquis produced during the late 1980s and early 1990s carried the Park Lane name.
Mercury's rear-wheel driven full-size car never really caught on with the public. Mercury, itself, struggled in the minds of the customers. It was neither a Ford nor a Lincoln. In the same way, the Park Lane was never truly able to carve out its niche in the car market. Customers could either make do with a cheaper Ford, or, splurged and bought a more expensive Lincoln.
The Park Lane's years in production totaled only eight and ended in 1968.By Jeremy McMullen