1956 CHICAGO SHOW & MERCURY

First published: September 17, 2009 in Old Cars Weekly

1956 CHICAGO SHOW & MERCURY – By: M.J. Frumkin

An old newspaper advertisement illustrates the one-two punch Mercury delivered to crowds during the Jan. 7-15, 1956, Chicago Auto Show.

First, those attending the 48th annual extravaganza witnessed the world introduction of Mercury’s futuristic dream car, the XM-Turnpike Cruiser. This fully operative “laboratory on wheels” was envisioned for America’s expanding network of ultra-modern highways.

Its low-silhouette design included a compound-wraparound windshield and rear glass, plus plastic “butterfly” flip-up transparent roof panels.

Deeply fluted, 12-inch-wide pearlescent side channels flowed back from the doors into enormous V-shaped taillamps. Few realized this concept was a preview of the imaginative styling and creative engineering coming from Mercury for 1957-’59.

Secondly, show attendees were able to explore the brand-new, top-of-the-line ’56 Montclair Phaeton four-door hardtop, which was introduced one month earlier, but not yet in dealerships.

Phaeton’s “flo-tone” exterior paint scheme accentuated the over 17-ft.-long body, and the pillarless roof design offered, “maximum visibility for every passenger, easy entrance and exit, and exhilarating open-air sensation.”

At the bottom of the ad is printed a list of the 46 Chicagoland “Big M” dealers.

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