Modified Mustangs & Fords
1969 Mercury Montego Fully Restored
This Blown Mercury Is A Far Cry From Grandpa's Grocery-Getter
The year was 1986. Doug Freyta was cruising his neighborhood of Englewood, a suburb of Colorado renowned for its mullets. While chances are Doug's hair was party in the back and business on top, his search for a unique Ford to build was nothing to mock. "I am a Ford guy, but I was tired of the typical Mustangs and Fairlanes that everyone had," said Doug. "One day I spotted a Mercury Montego for sale. I went to the house to inquire about the car, but they wanted $3,000. At the time I felt that was a lot of money." The journey from stock to hard rock is one that takes place over 25 years. But first a little history about this rare bird named after Montego Bay, Jamaica, is in order.
Introduced in 1968, the Mercury Montego was an upscale version of the Mercury Comet. It eventually supplanted the Comet model in 1969. That year, it came in four versions: four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, station wagon, and convertible. Doug's version is obviously the two-door hardtop. That model had a production run of around 17,000 and sold for less than $3,000 dollars in 1969. Coincidentally, the same price the widower, whose husband had left it to her, was asking. A "friend" had advised her that was what it was worth. "I thought that was a lot of money back then for a Mercury Montego, although it was a very nice car," said Doug.
As Confucius said, patience is a virtue; and Doug had plenty of that. He lay in wait licking his chops like a hungry lion ready to pounce, when the meaty Montego became available. "About six months went by and I was driving down the same street and saw that the car was still for sale," said Doug. But there was one major difference. The Montego, which had already been sitting for a while, had had the rear quarter-panel hit with a baseball bat. We suppose these are the kinds of things that people do in Westminster, Colorado-just walk down the street and smack the crap out of cars, but unfortunately it can happen anywhere.
Doug inquired about the car again. At this point, the widower just wanted to get rid of it. It was just being damaged sitting out in the street (most likely by guys with mullets). As a reward for his patience Doug scored the car for $2,000 less than the original asking price. Remember this was 24 years ago. The rock group Tesla was cool, people wore "Venetian Blind" sunglasses, and the Montego you see before you, well, it was just a Montego. "The car was all stock with lots of old guy's stuff on it," said Doug. "But it was in great shape with 63,000 miles on it."
Of course, one of the first things that he did was fix the baseball-bat dent on the rear quarter-panel before applying the first of what would be two paintjobs over the near quarter of a century that it took to complete this classic. He started out with a few basic modifications like Centerline wheels, a set of headers and a high-rise intake. Other aesthetics would come later throughout its life span, including polished aluminum 17-inch Billet Specialties that measure 9-inches in width up front and 11-inches rear. These are wrapped with Fuzion rubber at all four corners. The contact patch of these tires is modulated by KYB shocks at all four corners as well. "When my friends saw the car originally with the dent they gave me a lot of grief for buying an old man's car, but I had a vision," said Doug. "The car's image was nothing a 6-71 blower couldn't fix. So that became my new mission."
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At the time, Doug was working as a mechanic at a company that built and installed traffic lights. He had to save for 10 years before getting the money together for the Montego's major engine modification. That's when he "got the green light," so to speak. (Like we didn't see that pun coming!-Ed.) Doug was at a car show and got talking to a guy who had a blower on his Ford truck. As it turned out he had gotten the blower from L&M Blowers in Denver, Colorado. Doug got in touch with L&M and found out it was using 6-71 Blowers off of Detroit diesels. After acquiring one that was "green and ugly," that's when the madness started. By this time the Montego was being daily driven around town with the original 351W small-block.
By now, some of you may be wondering how much of this was done by the shop. Well Doug, who has been working on and fixing up cars since before he knew how to drive, tells us he did all the work himself, including the blower installation. "We had to build everything from the blower snout, intake manifold to the pulleys," Doug told us. "It was a lot of fun and I learned how to run a vertical and horizontal mill. I even made the air cleaner tops out of billet aluminum."
The original engine's internals were built to handle around 290 horsepower. So, along with the blower install, Doug built up the engine and bored it over 0.030-inch. From the forged Keith Black pistons to the Speed Pro rings to the ported and polished cylinder heads with screw-in studs and guideplates for the Manley valves, this motor is built to take the boost. The fresh Windsor small-block puts out 425 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque-enough to scoot the Mercury's 3,900 pounds down the quarter-mile in 12.90 seconds. "When I got it out after putting the supercharger on, it was scary; it was like driving on ice," said Doug.
He obviously learned how to harness the power on the 1,320. The Ford 9-inch rearend may help with this. Of course, at the end of the day a two-ton car going 120 mph needs to come to a stop, just like the article about this car needs to do the same. Taking care of the former is a set of Baer brakes. But to take care of the latter, a concluding paragraph is needed and it goes something like this:
Doug Freyta started out as a mechanic at his company 22 years ago, around the same time as he bought a battered Mercury Montego. Today, after growing with the company, he sits in the head office, running the show and this fully revamped version of a rare Mercury that you hardly ever see stock, nonetheless modified to this extreme. Oh, and for the record, we asked Doug if he had a mullet back in the day and he said no. But we don't know; there could be pictures.
Doug Freyta's '69 Mercury Montego two-door hardtop
- 351 Windsor
- 4.030-inch bore
- 3.500-inch stroke
- Ford steel crankshaft, turned 0.010-inch and balanced
- Ford steel connecting rods
- Forged Keith Black pistons
- Speed Pro rings
- 11:1 compression ratio
- Ford iron heads, ported and polished
- 1.94-inch intake, 1.54-inch exhaust valves
- Isky valvesprings
- Isky hydraulic flat tappet camshaft, 0.470-inch lift, 216-degrees duration at 0.050-inch
- Comp Cams 1.6:1 Magnum roller rockers
- Comp Cams pushrods and guideplates
- Don Hampton aluminum blower intake
- Mallory Unilite distributor
- Edelbrock 600-cfm four-barrel carburetors
- GMC polished 6-71 supercharger
- C4 three-speed automatic
- Branting Industries 2,800-rpm stall billet steel converter
- 9-inch housing
- Mark Williams 3.70 gears
- 31-spline axles
- Hedman long-tube headers, 1 5/8-inch primaries, 3-inch collectors
- 2 1/2-inch dual exhaust
- Flowmaster mufflers
- Front: Stock, KYB Gas-a-just shocks
- Rear: Stock, KYB Gas-a-just shocks
- Front: Baer Racing, 13-inch cross-drilled and slotted disc, PBR two-piston caliper
- Rear: Baer Racing, 12.5-inch cross-drilled and slotted disc, single-piston caliper
- Front: Billet Specialties Legend Series Apex, 17x9
- Rear: Billet Specialties Legend Series Apex, 17x11
- Front: Fuzion ZRi, P215/50R17
- Rear: Fuzion ZRi, P255/50R17
- Restored stock bench seat interior, Auto Meter instruments, Billet Specialties steering wheel, Pioneer audio, Pioneer 6x9 speakers in package tray, power window conversion using stock Montego parts, B&M shifter
- PPG black basecoat/clearcoat, stock body panels, hand painted pinstripes