Hello, Greg. I 'd love for you to tell us about my favorite car of all-time, the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser. My dad had one and the family loved it. It had so many new additions from 1956. Where does this car rate with you?

Q: Hello, Greg. I 'd love for you to tell us about my favorite car of all-time, the 1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser. My dad had one and the family loved it. It had so many new additions from 1956. Where does this car rate with you? Albert L., Pennsylvania.


A: Albert, the '57 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was indeed a major step forward for Ford Motor Company, and as I've mentioned before, my uncle John worked for Mercury at the Metuchen, N.J., assembly plant, so I got to see these beauties up close and personal numerous times.


What I remember most of these cars is that the '57 Turnpike Cruiser came standard with dual front headlights called "Quad Beams," something my uncle told me wasn't legal in all 48 states yet. (Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959.) The car also had things like front seats with a memory called "Seat-O-Matic," a special speedometer with a lower bar that moved to right and filled in with a reddish color band instead of the usual oval gauge needle. The car also had a steering wheel that was flat at the top, which my uncle did not like.


The Merc-O-Matic transmission had a pushbutton device instead of a shift lever, and all turnpike Cruisers had special gold trim along an inverted rear fender treatment.


Perhaps what I remember most, however, was the power rear window that went down, a first in my lifetime. The wheelbase was also stretched to 122 inches in '57 and power came from three available V8s, including a 368, a 383 or a even more powerful 430-incher.


Overall, the '57 Turnpike Cruiser, in all its gaudy glory, left a permanent implant in my brain as I'll always remember my uncle John taking me there and seeing hundreds of Mercurys sitting in front of the Metuchen Assembly with no hubcaps. Then, we went to the Edison Diner on Rte. 1, which is still open today, and over to Menlo Park for the afternoon.


The plant opened in 1948 and closed in 2004 and built Mercurys, Lincolns, Shelby Mustangs, Comets, Flacons and many more.


Thanks for the letter, Albert, and a trip down memory lane.


Greg Zyla writes weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions on auto nostalgia, old-time motorsports and collector cars at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com.