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Local classic cars: 1962 Mercury Monterey S-55 2 door hardtop with ultra-rare 406 engine

If you happen to see Brad Williams, owner of Brad's Auto Clinic, cruising the streets of Duluth, MN in his 1962 Mercury Monterey S-55 this summer - consider yourself lucky - the car is so rare you'll probably never see another like it. What makes it truly special is the 406 engine under the hood.

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Mercury designed the 406 for the racetrack. In the 1960's, if a manufacturer wanted to use an engine for racing, the rules required them to sell at least 500 vehicles powered by that engine to the general public - then the engine was considered "stock". So Mercury put very few 405 horsepower, Tripower (3 carb), 406 engines on the street. Some think as few as 124 Montereys came factory-equipped with this powerplant in 1962, and Brad is lucky enough to own one.

Actually it was persistence more than luck that allowed him to buy the car 35 years ago. He told one of the previous owners many times that he would buy the car whenever he was ready to sell it, only to have him sell it to one of Brad's friends instead. That would have ended many friendships, but not this one, and Brad finally convinced his buddy to sell him the car a few years later. He then set about the task of putting the car right again.

The engine was first on the agenda as the car had a 390 in it instead of the correct 406. Thinking he would never be able to find the scarce engine, he asked a local machine shop owner to start building one. Brad must have been living right because the guy told him he knew somebody who had one, fully rebuilt to factory spec's, stored in his basement - and he was willing to sell.

With the engine issue solved, the rust-free Texas car needed a few finishing touches, including fresh DuPont Imron paint and a correct 1962 Monterey interior.

At that point the car might have been considered done, but Brad thought it needed a little performance upgrade - he removed the triple carb setup that the 406 had from the factory and replaced it with the intake and double carb setup from the 427.

The swap makes a noticeable power increase, so if you decide to challenge this mean Merc at the stoplight this summer, don't be surprised if the last you see of Brad is two bullet-shaped taillights rapidly pulling away from you.