Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Convertible 1957





Road Signature

scale 1:18

Model number: 92578


Review of the model:

Road signature from Yatming-Group had made a model in scale 1:18 of the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Convertible. Not because its one of the most famous car ever to roll on the streets, but because it is a testimony of car design in the 1950 America!

This car is so over the top in so many senses, that it must has a place for the collector community. At first some one could easy oversee this “Dream car Design” but try to look at my Sun Star Mercury Montclair 1956 and then at my Sun Star Mercury Parklane 1959. This batch of sister-cars in a small time frame, is good to show how quickly the evolution was on the Mercurys (and others makes) in those days. – A new car was quickly looking old a few years later!

Mercury 1957 with Dream Car Design was a milestone in “new” inventions and design. Therefore we shall be glad for Road Signatures choice of release the car in scale 1:18.

The model is getting harder to find in ordinary shops, but if you search a bit on the net, you will see a lot of models in different color schemes incl. the famous Pace car from Indianapolis 500 1957, witch only four originals was made in scale 1:1. Other colors include the: Light yellow, Mocha brown and two-tone Red-white and this model here; Pacific Blue and Classic White as the name on the paint chips card. The model only comes as a Convertible (I’m a fan of hardtops, so I still hope some day…) This is a low, looong car and the Continental Kit gives the car some inches more of length. In my mind the Continental Kit can really ruin some good looking cars – take the 59 Impala! But in this chase, it suits the car well and gives it a smooth appearance seen in profile.

So how well is the model made; and is there some easy improvements to add the model?
Road Signature models is in the budget segment regarding price and detail richness. I most say I was surprised to see how little this model was “missing”

I started with the front end of the car and gave the grill some contrast by painted the holes black. Over the headlights is the parking and directional lights located. They were painted white. Inside; the interior had only minor issues. The steering wheel was painted white and the chrome trim on the front and back seats was treated with Liquid Chrome. The backend of the car was perfect: The only thing was a red dot (lamp) on the backlights.

The model itself is well made all over, the parts fits well and no gabs around the hood and doors. The paintwork and Chrome parts are very good for a model in this price range!
The deck lid can not be open as on so many other models from the Yatming Group.

I will highlight the fine plastic lenses both in front lights and in particular the backlights. The hubcaps have fine printed emblems in the center. The model have markings allover well printed. The hood and deck lid have detailed ornaments that distingue the car well and a bit of paint work here, by a toothpick enhance the details. The interior is a bit sparse, but is acceptable. If we open the hood the motor have more details than we often see on early released models. The wheels fit well on the shafts – all in all a well build model here.


I will give this model 3 out of 6 stars  ******

Below here are pictures of the model, historical description, old brochures, technical data and some movie clips for the real car. So please enjoy!




  Glamour shot in a studio  
  The Continental Kit suits this car well  
  Real plastic backlights on fins  
A car of the Jetage!
Note how well the parts fits together
Black painted grill as well as hood ornament
Pacific Blue and Classic White - the real car had metallic in the blue color
A good looking car in profile
Deck lid ornament painted with a toothpick
Note the fine small emblems in the hubcaps
Model cars from the Yatming Group has always good chrome parts!
"Modern Jet-age" Steering wheel
A view from behind
The interior is acceptable from a model car of the earlier releases 
A well detailed motor room on this budget model car
This car have "Dream Car Design" A taste of the future
Fine printed emblems all over the car
The lenses on the headlights is good and realistic made
This car is looong!
A real Cruiser from 1957





During World War II, car-starved America dined on a steady diet of futuristic new designs not unlike that of the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, cars that presumably would appear as soon as peace returned. Cooked up by artists and writers for numerous magazine articles, they promised "Buck Rogers" styling, transparent roofs, and mysterious new sources of power. Some might even fly. Above all, the postwar car would be loaded with wonders derived from wartime technology. But for the most part, these dreams never came true. They were too costly and impractical for the real world, and there was simply no need for anything radically different once the booming postwar seller's market became apparent.

With the Fifties dawned the space age, which only whetted buyers' appetites for gadgets, glitter, and go. Detroit responded in part with an annual crop of fascinating, futuristic show cars. Bristling with new concepts being considered for production, they served the very important purpose of gauging public reaction to those ideas. Eventually, some of their styling and engineering features did make it to the showroom. But though the street models were more down-to-earth, they were, by and large, pretty ghastly. Perhaps the worst of these mid-century spaceboats was the one actually trumpeted as a "Dream-Car Design": Mercury's Turnpike Cruiser.

The story begins in 1955, when Ford Motor Company decided to split Lincoln and Mercury into separate divisions. Named to head the latter was Francis C. "Jack" Reith, one of the 10 original "Whiz Kids" recruited in the Forties by then-new company president Henry Ford II. Up to now, Mercury had been simply a deluxe Ford -- except for 1949-1951, when it was a sort of "junior Lincoln." Reith rightly reasoned that Dearborn needed a third body shell for a new group of cars to compete with GM's medium- and upper-medium-price models. Based on his recommendations, it was decided to give Mercury its own distinct structure for 1957. This would then be given suitably different outer sheet-metal for the upper-crust offerings in the new Edsel line being planned for 1958.

In essence, the new "Big M" was a less extreme version of the XM-Turnpike Cruiser hardtop coupe, a square-lined 1956 showmobile. Featured were "concave side channel" rear fenders, canted V-shaped tail lamps, "compound wraparound" windshield (curved at the top as well as the sides), near-flat hood line, and a modest grille set above a split bumper. Though some of these elements were exaggerated and the twin "butterfly" plastic roof panels merely fanciful, the XM was a remarkably accurate preview of the forthcoming 1957s, especially the production Turnpike Cruiser.

Supporting the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser's jazzy body were a frame and suspension much like the 1957 Ford's. Wheelbase stretched by four inches on wagons and three inches on other models to 122 inches (versus Ford's 116/118). Overall height was reduced four inches from 1956, thanks in part to the new chassis and its lower floor pan, which also increased interior room. Front suspension was Ford's new 1957 ball-joint design with "swept back" lower control arms. Rear-end geometry was also similar, with longer leaf springs pinned outboard of the frame in front, a redesigned hypoid axle placed further back than before, and a new tapered driveshaft.

One suspension element was unique to Mercury wagons and other models with the optional 368 V-8 except convertibles. That was the pneumatic "doughnuts" that replaced the rear springs' normal front shackles. Theoretically, they were supposed to improve ride comfort and prevent bottoming; in practice, they were neither better nor worse than the regular shackles. However, they did prove extremely durable. Some have been known to last a quarter-century.

Mercury retained a four-series lineup for 1957. The previous year's low-end Medalist and Custom were canceled, while wagons were now a separate model group, as was Turnpike Cruiser. Monterey, mid-level Montclair, and equivalent wagons came with the 312-cubic-inch V-8 introduced for 1956 (bore and stroke: 3.80 x 3.44 inches). Higher, 9.75:1 compression boosted horsepower from 210-235 to 255, with 340 Ibs/ft torque peaking at 2,600 rpm.

Standard for Turnpike Cruiser and optional elsewhere was the four-barrel ECU 368 V-8 with dual exhausts. This was essentially the 1956-1957 Lincoln and Continental Mark II powerplant with a quarter-point compression drop (to 9.75:1) and a few other modifications that yielded 290 horsepower at 4,600 rpm. Peak torque was 405 Ibs/ft at 2,800 rpm. There was also a high-performance M-335 version built mainly for racing, named for its horsepower with twin four-barrel carbs and tighter compression.

While lesser 1957 Mercurys were seen as strictly middle-price cars, the Turnpike Cruiser was intended to vie with the likes of Olds 98, Buick Super, DeSoto Fireflite, and Chrysler New Yorker. Model offerings were initially limited to two- and four-door hard-tops priced at $3,758 and $3,849, respectively. The latter came in $532 more than the equivalent Montclair, $419 above the Montclair convertible, and $172 higher than the posh Colony Park wagon. A Cruiser convertible arrived later in the season at $4,013, and was selected pace car for the 1957 Indianapolis 500.

Mercury's 1957 Turnpike Cruiser equipment was predictably lavish and heavy on gadgetry. Besides the big V-8 you got Merc-O-Matic transmission with trendy "Keyboard Control" pushbuttons a la Chrysler, plus power steering and brakes, a special steering-wheel flattened at the top for a better view of the road, quad headlamps (where legal), plus a "Monitor Control Panel" with tachometer and "Average-Speed Computer Clock." And, oh yes: a map showing all U.S. turnpikes as of 1957.

The real "wowie" items were "Seat-O-Matic" memory seat, an electrically retractable rear window for "Breeze-way Ventilation," and twin air intakes at the top corners of the "Skylight Dual-Curve" windshield, each housing a small, horizontal radio antenna.

With all this, the Turnpike Cruiser came about as close to the fully automated "car of tomorrow" as Fifties technology allowed, and some of its features have electronic counterparts today. Trouble was, this dream car was something of a nightmare. Take the roof-level air intakes. Contrived to hide a structural break necessitated by the curvature of that huge windshield, they leaked water even when closed and likely caused many a head cold.

Still, with the side windows up and the backlight cracked open an inch, this bizarre setup was excellent, an early example of the flow-through ventilation we now take for granted. In some ways, it was even better than the optional air conditioning, which was barely up to the task.

More amusing was "Seat-O-Matic," which allowed you to preset a desired front seat position via a pair of dials in a dash-mounted pod. Select fore/aft location from "1" to "7," height from "A" to "E." Switch off the ignition and the seat automatically sank all the way down and back to facilitate entry/exit. Twist the key and the seat would assume the programmed setting.

But you had to remember one thing: never buckle up before the seat completed its adagio dance or the belt could squeeze you to death. The "Computer Clock" required a real genius to figure out. If you could, it would calculate your average trip speed. It also housed a trip odometer, an item most Detroit cars forgot in the Fifties.

Less publicized than the gadgets were a number of standard safety features: padded sun visors and dash, rubber housings for tach and clock, a deep-dish steering wheel, and the wrapped "V-angle" taillights that functioned like today's government-required side marker lamps. Seatbelts were optional, as was a child's pullover safety harness, and the sliding interior door locks were less injurious as well as less accessible for thieves. But all this praiseworthy stuff was negated by the extensive use of chrome and stainless steel that made the inside of a Cruiser as dazzling as the outside.

Appearing at the height of the "horsepower race," the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser naturally had good performance. At close to two tons, though, it was no neck-snapper: 0-60 mph acceleration was around 10 seconds, and top speed approached 110 mph. Handling was about average for the era, ride unusually soft. In fact, Motor Trend magazine described its pair of 1957 Mercurys as "two of the smoothest and quietest riding cars we ever tested."

Surprisingly, the Cruiser tended to oversteer somewhat but, in typical Fifties fashion, if cornered poorly and wallowed a lot. Not surprising were the marked nosedive in panic stops and brakes that started to fade on the second hard application. By contrast, gas mileage was relatively good. MT reported 14.5 mpg at a steady 60 mph and averaged 14.2 mpg over 439 miles.

As the editors observed: "It is interesting that the 290 hp engine gave better fuel economy as well as better performance than the 312. This is best explained by the fact that this engine doesn't work as hard as the smaller one." Still, if you've ever driven a 1957 Ford, Thunderbird, or Lincoln, the Cruiser will disappoint. It's very much in the late-Fifties tradition of style over substance.

Even so, veteran tester Tom McCahill of Mechanix Illustrated magazine liked the Cruiser from quad headlamps to dual exhausts. Calling it a "Space Age Design for Earth Travel," he reported that "[the car] I tested had all the road ability of a rubber-soled gazelle and could handle drifts and slides with the sureness of a competition sports car." Was "Uncle Tom" kidding? No, but perceptions do change and McCahill wasn't a tough critic.

Yet the more hard-nosed Art Railton of Popular Mechanics concurred: "The engineers have done wonders with the suspension. Greatly improved springing and damping have given the 1957 Mercury an amazingly comfortable ride on the boulevard, yet an amazingly firm suspension on the corners...A combination of factors...give control on the big bumps as well as on the undulating boulevard. You just can't bottom the car at high speed. Of course, the fatter [and smaller new] 14-inch tires help..."


Technical specification:

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

Manufacturer Mercury (Ford)
Also called Mercury Convertible Cruiser

Assembly: St. Louis, Missouri
Pico Rivera, California
Atlanta, Georgia
Mahwah, New Jersey

Body and chassis:
Class Full-size car

Body style:

2-door hardtop coupe
4-door hardtop sedan
2-door convertible

Layout: FR layout, body-on-frame
Related Mercury Montclair
Mercury Colony Park

Engine 368 cu in (6.0 L) Y-Block V8, 290 hp
383 cu in (6.3 L) Marauder V8, 312 hp

Transmission: 3-speed Merc-O-Matic automatic

Wheelbase 122 in (3,099 mm)
Length (without Continental Kit) 211 in (5,359 mm)
Width 79.1 in (2,009 mm)
Height 56.5 in (1,435 mm)

Successor Mercury Park Lane


Old brochures of the car










































The 1956 XM-Turnpike Cruiser: A Sneak Preview of the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

Show cars influenced much of Ford's production styling in the Fifties, but the 1957 Mercury was an exception. Like the 1956 Lincoln, it 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. Interestingly, it was built in late 1955 by Ghia in Italy, thus foreshadowing Ford's acquisition of the famed coachbuilder in the Seventies.

Carted around the country in a semitrailer with big picture windows on each side, the XM-Turnpike Cruiser was described as "not merely a 'dream' car. It is a full-scale, fully operative automotive styling laboratory dedicated to ... pioneering, testing, and perfecting new ideas in design, new features, new safety and new power application."

Its most obvious departure from production 1957 styling was the roof, a sort of early T-top design with a wrapped backlight surmounted by overhanging sections at the C-pillars. Twin plastic "butterfly" roof panels, hinged from the T, flipped up when the doors opened to facilitate entry, a necessity with the low, 52.4-inch overall height. The center portion of the three-section backlight could be lowered for ventilation as on the production Turnpike Cruiser, a feature continued on the 1958-1960 Continentals and the "Breeze-way" Mercurys of 1963-1968.

Other differences included twin, chrome-plated exhausts exiting from the lower rear fenders, near-vertical A-pillars instead of the production models' angled "doglegs," and a blunt front end with chrome half-bumpers, each carrying "twin jet pods." Inside were four leather-covered bucket-type seats and a quartet of "chrome-edged cylinders" housing full instrumentation.

The XM Cruiser became one of Ford's most famous show cars, and rumors persisted for years that it was still around. Ford's policy in those days was to destroy its show cars after it had finished with them. As the story goes, the person sent to demolish this one just didn't have the heart, and instead hid it in the Michigan woods, where it turned up much later. That may be true, but the car's whereabouts remain a mystery.












Video of the real car from YouTube

  1957 Mercury Commercial  
  1957 Mercury Montclair Turnpike Cruiser  
  1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser Pace Car (with continental kit)  


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Aeronautic May 2018


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