Don Crosbie’s 1954 Mercury Sun Valley

The average person today keeps a car for three to five years.  It’s to the point that most vehicles today are designed for easy recycling as much as they are for easy assembly, knowing full well that after one or two owners, the car will be melted down and turned into souvenir ashtrays.


Of course, there’s always an exception, such as Don Crosbie’s 1954 Ford Sun Valley coupe.  Don aquired his Sun Valley in April of 1964, in a straight trade for his ’53 Ford coupe.  Originally it was a daily driver, getting him to and from Penner Mazda in Winnipeg, where he worked as a mechanic.  Later, it took on the added duties of towing the family camper trailer.  According to Don, “I used to have a little tent trailer, but setting it up was too much work in the middle of the night.”  They eventually replaced it with a 23-foot house trailer.  Yes, a camper that would chew up and spit out anything short of a full-sized pickup truck, hooked to the bumper of a 2-door “Gentleman’s Coupe.”  And out of the three things that Don has had to repair on that car, the transmission was the last thing to fall under his wrench.

1954 Mercury Sun Valley

Much like the Ford Skyliner, the Sun Valley had its conceptual roots before WWII.  As early as the 1930’s, designers started toying with the idea of using plastic for structural parts of the car.  In 1939, a designer for Briggs Body Company named John Tjaarda came up with a plan to install a one-piece plastic cover over a Plymouth convertible.  Unfortunately, Hitler tried to mess up the entire world, and the idea was shelved so we could concentrate on messing up Hitler.

Once the threat of learning to speak German was out of the way, it was back to the business of clear car parts.  Ford jumped headfirst into the bubble top fray, launching the Ford Crestline Skyliner and the Mercury Sun Valley in 1954 to rave reviews.  Of course, it wasn’t just the see-through roof that brought all the boys to the yard;  it was also the first year for Ford’s new overhead valve Y-block V8 engine.  It came with a whopping 265 cubic inches, spitting fire to the tune of 161 horsepower.

1954 Mercury Sun Valley

Don’s specimen still has the original motor, although it has been rebuilt and had a couple of modifications made.  The way he talks about the rebuild, it sounds like Don rebuilt the engine last weekend.  By “last weekend,” he actually means more than 40 years ago.  And the modifications?  Well, there’s an intake manifold from a later 292 c.i. motor, topped with the original carb.  And there’s a dual-exhaust system from a 312 cubic inch version.  Everything else is stone stock, the way Henry intended.

So what else has been done to make this stunning all-original car so pristine?  Not much.  The transmission was done up a couple years ago, and the paint was done up a couple decades ago.  Essentially, the car is exactly the same as when it drove out of the showroom nearly fifty five years ago.  And that’s just how Don likes it.

1954 Mercury Sun Valley

“It’s fun to drive,” he exclaims, as the energy of a cool Sunday evening at the Pony Corral builds up to the prize draws.  “It’s like sitting in your living room, watching TV.”  Judging by the fact that Don is at damn near every cruise night and car show in Winnipeg, it’s a safe bet that he’s having his fair share of fun with his Mercury.

Don’t forget to check out the all-new Sunday Cruise Fever Facebook group.  Be the first to find out when new articles and pictures are posted, meet other gearheads, and even post photos and videos of your own ride.  Everyone is welcome to join, so sign up today!

Hey editors: this could be in your newspaper, newsletter, magazine, or web site!  Contact Jordan at jordan (dot) morningstar (at) gmail (dot) com or call (204) 997.8827 to find out more!


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