1947 Monarch
1947 Monarch. Click image to enlarge

Story and photo by Bill Vance

The Monarch name, and others like Pontiac’s Acadian and Ford’s Frontenac and Meteor, were Canadian models spawned to accommodate smaller Canadian dealership structures. Whereas the American market could support stand-alone, one-marque franchises, several were bundled together in Canada.

Traditionally Ford dealers had sold Fords and an occasional Lincoln. With the introduction of the Mercury in 1939, some dealers also sold Mercurys. Starting in the mid-1940s the Ford Motor Company of Canada decided to formalize it dealer structure by establishing one chain to sell Fords and Ford trucks and tractors, and another to sell Mercurys, Lincolns and Mercury trucks.

By grouping several makes under single dealerships Ford was following the practice implemented by General Motors of Canada and Chrysler Canada before the Second World War.

Since Ford dealers now didn’t have an upscale car to sell, Ford created the medium priced Monarch in 1946. The Monarch was a Mercury clone with different trim, but it was enough to give Monarch a following and cache of its own.

Mercury-Lincoln dealerships’ competitor to the Ford in the low priced field was the 2,897 mm (114 in.) wheelbase Mercury 114. Then in 1949 Ford brought out the Meteor to replace the short wheelbase Mercury 114, giving Mercury-Lincoln dealers a new nameplate to sell.

The Monarch used the same 2,997 mm (118 in.) wheelbase as the “senior” Mercury. Distinguishing Monarch features were a horizontal three-bar grille rather than the Mercury’s vertical bars, a lion’s head hood ornament and a lion’s head on each hubcap.

A Monarch nameplate on the trunk lid, different placement of chrome strips, and Ford taillamps completed the external differences. Inside was a Ford instrument panel and a lion embossed into the horn button.

Power came from a 3.9-litre (239 cu in.) side-valve V8 engine, the same as the Mercury, mated to a three speed, column shifted transmission. Horsepower was quoted as 97 compared with the Mercury’s 100. Underneath was the same rudimentary transverse leaf spring suspension and solid front axle used on Fords and Mercurys.

Monarchs came in five models: two- and four-door sedan (with rear-hinged, “suicide doors” at the rear), club coupe, convertible and woody four-door wagon. The four-door sedan was the most popular.

There was no change in Monarchs for 1947 except that the two-door sedan was dropped. It also remained the same for 1948, although the choice was again reduced by eliminating the convertible and station wagon.

A big change came in 1949 when the Mercury was completely redesigned and moved away from being a “deluxe Ford” to become a “junior Lincoln”. Its longer, lower and wider “inverted bathtub” body shell was now shared with the small Lincoln. Naturally the Monarch followed, with a bolder grille a “leaping lion” hood ornament and Mercury taillamps.

The engine was up to 4.2 litres (255 cu in.) and 110 horsepower, thanks to a 25 mm (1 in.) stroke increase. For quieter, more economical cruising, overdrive was now available. Front suspension was now independent with A-arms and coil springs, and longitudinal leaf springs with sold axle at the rear all supported by a sturdy X-braced frame.

There were trim changes only for 1950. Then in 1951 a new, heavier grille was fitted and an automatic transmission was made available.

1952 saw another complete restyling with the Mercury/Monarch getting a more angular appearance with a massive integrated bumper-grille. It now had a one piece windshield, a slim-pillared coupe that gave the popular “hardtop convertible” appearance, and the suicide doors were gone. Higher compression pushed horsepower up to 125.

There were trim and grille appearance changes only for 1953, although power brakes, steering and windows were now available. A big mechanical change came in 1954 when the old flathead engine was replaced with a new, short stroke, overhead valve, 162-horsepower 4.2-litre (256 cu in.) V8.

Another restyling came in 1955 when Monarchs became longer, lower and wider and got a wraparound windshield. Displacement was increased to 4.8 litres (292 cu in.), pushing power to 188. An optional, higher compression 198 horsepower was available with the automatic transmission.

Those were the “horsepower race” days, so for 1956 the Monarch’s engine went to 5.1 litres (312 cu in.) and 210 to 225 horsepower, depending on model and transmission.

Another restyling came for 1957 featuring sculpted rear fenders. Again, trim differentiated the Monarch from the Mercury, although the two were beginning to converge in appearance. There were now two engines, a 6.3-litre (383 cu in.) 280 horsepower, and a 7.2-litre (438 cu in.) 345 horsepower version.

With the introduction of the strongly promoted Edsel in 1958, Ford of Canada discontinued the Monarch. But when Edsel sales proved disappointing – some said disastrous – the Monarch triumphed by being brought back as the Monarch II bigger than ever for 1959.

New, rounder styling came in 1960, and then for 1961 the Monarch was reduced in size, and model lines were reduced to three. This would be the last year for the original Monarch as Ford decided to push is Ford line up in size and price, in effect to where Monarch was. Except for a short revival in the 1970s the Monarch name went into history.

Connect with Autos.ca