Paula and I decided after the 2006 Western National Meet in Tacoma to find a closed car that we could use for touring. We purchased a 1953 Mercury Monterey in Oregon and brought it home to Puyallup. We participated in a couple of tours and had lots of fun in our tour car until we drove it on the 2007 club Puget Sound picnic and the car overheated several times on the way home from the home of Elmo & Bev Lewis. It was a 95-degree day and it didn’t help driving over the Tiger Mountain Summit with little or no water. We did finally limp home and I discovered later that I had cracked the block. I parked the car in the garage and there it sat for 9 years while I worked on my other projects.
Fast forward to the spring 2016 Monroe Swap Meet where I met a fellow who I had a chance conversation with and discovered he had a Mercury 8BA motor completely rebuilt with new aluminum heads and twin carburetors. After the swap meet, Paula and I went to the fellow’s home in Lake Stevens and purchased the motor. The guy was so happy to sell the motor that he loaded my truck with all his flathead parts to include four 3-speed and two overdrive transmissions. I purchased a rebuilt ’54 automatic transmission that I thought I could install with the simple changing of the bell housing and torque converter. I soon found out that the crank on the replacement motor was different than that of my original engine and the rebuilt transmission wouldn’t work. Plan B, change the Honey Bee from an automatic to a three-speed overdrive. That should be relatively easy- NOT!
Plan B would mean that I would replace the transmission with an overdrive transmission. Only problem was that I had a 1951 Ford overdrive unit that would fit if I changed the driveshaft as my original driveshaft would be too long. After speaking to Todd Dunsdon our resident Mercury collector of all things Mercury, he traded me a ‘53 Mercury Overdrive Transmission for my rebuilt ’54 Mercury automatic transmission. I asked Gary Duff to rebuild the Overdrive Transmission and I was off and running. Now I needed to locate the column shift and clutch linkage this should be easy right-NOT! I also had to locate a steering column as well. Again, I knew that we had a resident ’53 Mercury expert in Jim Hendry who was able to provide almost all the linkage and the steering column as well. A deal was made and I was off and running.
In December 2016 I asked several club members if they could help me pull the old engine and transmission. We got them out and in about March I began my research on the change from the automatic to standard transmission as well as finding the parts in preparation to install the new engine and transmission. I finally was ready for the engine and transmission installation and on May 3, 2017, I again called Eddie Akers, Jim Cormier and Bruce Nichols to help with the installation. After about 3 hours, the engine and transmission was mounted and ready for me to connect everything and do the final assembly.
I tried to do as much as I could by myself in order to learn more about the Mercury and how to work on it. I did have to rely on a lot of technical assistance and guidance from Gary Lees and the Mercury was eventually prepared for the trip to Salem for the Early Ford V8 Club of America’s Western National Meet. Driving the Mercury was a lot easier than driving our ’36 Cabriolet and the engine and transmission performed very well without any mechanical difficulties. Paula drove the first hundred miles and was very comfortable driving her car. Paula was also awarded a Third Place in the modified Touring Class at the Meet
I still have a number of things that I want to do to the Mercury, but at least we can now enjoy it while I continue to tinker with it.
Robin and Paula Ordonez