Unearthed: 1954 Mercury Meteor Rideau Skyliner

Classic Cars / 18 Comments

There was a time when Ford had a brand specifically for the Canadian market. Although it's now long gone, a few of those cars are still around.

Way back in the mid-20th century, Ford Motor Company was still in the process of becoming a global automaker. It had operations in the UK and was quickly expanding into other parts of Europe following the end of World War II. But back in North America, it set up a sub brand called Meteor specifically for Canada. Ford also sold Mercury and Lincoln in Canada but it was interested in having a unique brand for the Maple tree loving country.

Andrew Timmis
Andrew Timmis

Meteor-badged models were sold at Mercury-Lincoln dealerships in Canada and were aimed to take on GM's Pontiac. In other words, Meteor was a low-cost brand that was meant to offer solid performance for the money. Mercury, on the other hand, was designed to compete against Oldsmobile. The first Meteor-badged model was launched in 1948, and it was simply called "Meteor". It had a Ford body, a Mercury grille and was powered by a 100-horsepower flathead V8. Through the 1950s, Meteors retained their Ford bodies and unique exterior trim parts but later had Mercury instrument panels and dashboards.

In case you haven't figured the scheme out, Ford basically morphed its own brands into one in order to give the impression it was building something aimed for the "affordable luxury" market segment. The idea worked for a while, with models such as the Rideau and Niagara enjoying decent success, but soon the game was up. Ford shut down Meteor after the 1961 model year. And the "Meteor" name was chosen to be used on an upcoming Mercury model for the US. In addition, the Mercury brand itself was given a price decrease in order to match what GM was doing with Oldsmobile.

As a result, the Meteor brand's ethos was no longer relevant. However, Canadian dealers still liked the idea of a low priced, more premium model so Ford opted to launch the Mercury 400. But in 1964, Ford had a change of heart and relaunched Meteor in Canada after the Mercury Monterey series was dropped there. This time the Meteor looked nearly identical to the 1964 Mercury but sported a Ford dash and interior. The entire Meteor range soon returned to market but it was once again infused with Mercury. This trend continued throughout the Seventies but by 1981 the Meteor brand was permanently retired.

This 1954 Mercury Meteor Rideau Skyliner is reportedly just one of 385 ever built and could thus be one of the rarest models ever built by Ford. Power comes from a 255 cu in flathead V8 and features a Mercury dashboard and instrumentation, special grille, emblems and unique Meteor trim. One particularly interesting feature is the clear plexiglass roof. The seller claims the car is in beautiful condition inside and out and the engine still runs great even at highway speeds. Exact mileage figures weren't available but the asking price is $21,900. Considering its overall condition and rarity, this classic Ford is literally one of the last of its kind. Photos courtesy of timmismotor.

Andrew Timmis

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