In response to the Buick Gran Sport package and Ford’s own Galaxy 500/XL Mercury built three Special line models, the S-22 Comet launched in 1961, the S-33 Meteor and S-55 Monterey such as the one seen here launched in 1962, the latter of which was only available with 2 door hard top or convertible body until 1963.
The most important feature of the S-55 was the choice of larger engines; 6.4 litre / 390 cui FE V8 which was offered with either 300 or 330 hp and the 6.7 litre / 406 FE aimed squarely at the drag racer with three 2 barrel Holley carburetors that produced 405 hp and 448 ft lbs of torque which enabled the car to accelerate from just 12mph to 120 mph top speed in the floor shifted top gear of the all synchromesh gear box, as one contemporary journalist reported “this is virtually a two gear automobile”.
Additional performance options included; cam-ground forged aluminum pistons, 15 different gear ratios from 3.00 to 8.83:1, limited slip differential, quick ratio steering for track racing and a list of cc’s for a series of deck clearances (distances from the top of block to top of pistons) added to which was the volume of the space the head gasket occupied, plus a range of cylinder head combustion chamber volumes, all essential information for the dedicated competitor.
Inside the S-55 featured the aforementioned floor stick shift that replaced the column shift of the more pedestrian Monterey’s, 2 bucket seats replaced the front bench seat, and the doors were fitted with novel for the period combination white and red lights which came on automatically when the doors were opened to both illuminate the door aperture and warn traffic approaching from behind that the door was open.
The front bucket seats folded flat so that one could stretch ones legs across them from the back seats, the purpose of which escapes me, but might have made camping in the car at night an option on long journey’s.
Deleted from the S-55 was the air conditioning and power assisted brakes all of which took power away from the motor and thus reduced competitiveness in competition, the S-55’s brakes and suspension were however uprated from the standard Monterey.
One contemporary 405 hp S-55 test concluded that the vehicle was not far from the ad man’s fantasy of a cross between a tiger and a purring kitten and all one needed to appreciate the ’62 S-55 like the one seen in these photographs at last years Summer Classics at Easter Compton was a fondness for a smooth-operating performance and handling package.
Thanks for joining me on this “Tiger Or Purring Kitten” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Ferrari Friday. Don’t forget to come back now !