Standard in Turnpike Cruisers and optional in other Mercurys in 1957, the Lincoln Y-block 368 was no slouch – hot enough for the time with 290 horsepower and 405 ft. lbs of torque. In Mercurys, it used 9.7:1 compression not the 10:1 ratio found in the upscale Lincoln’s 300 horsepower unit. The 368 was a continuation of the 1952-56 Lincoln 317/341 CID V-8. In its Mercury configuration, like Lincoln, it was developed to give lively performance and great pulling power to the new, heavier 1957 Mercury chassis.

The M-335 had a race pedigree going back to 1952 the Panamerican Road race that it won years in a row! Here is the race winning 1953 Lincoln – It swept the class that year, 1- 4.

The powers that be at Mercury knew that the stock, built for torque and cruising 290 HP 368 CID mill would not do in NASCAR and USAC stock car racing which is where they wanted to tout their new found power. But the Lincoln mill had a race pedigree, as it was this same block albeit at only 317 CID that had raced successfully in 1953-54  where it had even won the prestigious 1000 mile Panamerican Road Race three times in a row in the heavy Lincoln hardtops from 1952-1954 – sweeping the class in 1953! Mercury knew the engine had a solid race pedigree. Thus there was given a go ahead inside Mercury to develop the larger block for racing.

The M-355 was developed by Bill Stroppe Racing specifically to compete in NASCAR and USAC for Mercury for 1957. Stroppe was Mercury’s official experimental and racing division (though he ran a private race shop) He was tasked with the job of building both the race cars and the retail units needed to qualify under NASCAR and USAC regulations. The homologation rules from NASCAR in 1957 required 100 cars to be built. The Stroppe-built run of cars had their production number stamped on the intake manifold.

The 368 would be returned to Lincoln-spec 10:1 compression (and 10.8:1 in the true race engines). Rather than use the Mercury blocks, Stroppe sourced Lincoln units so as to not deal with the lower spec 368s used by Mercury. All received a full race blueprint, dual four-barrel Holley carburetors and special mechanical camshaft with 286° intake and exhaust duration and 0.468″ lift. All street engines made at least 335 horsepower, a figure confirmed on Stroppe’s engine dynamometer for each unit prior to release. The race-prepped units developed closer to 400 horsepower.

The 368 had advantageous “side oiling” – delivering oil to the crankshaft and camshaft simultaneously. Many of the period blocks delivered the oil to the camshaft 1st to ensure quiet lifter operation, at the expense of the main bearings.

If you couldn’t order one from your local Mercury dealer (most were spoken for in the first month), you could order the intake and twin Holley setup as a kit over the counter and add it to your single-four barrel 368, and a few individuals did just that. However,  Stroppe’s shop blueprinted the blocks, with the race engines having the max allowable overbore. All M-335 engines received a high-lift Isky camshaft with 0.468″ lift on the intake and exhaust, mechanical lifters, heavy-duty valve springs, high-flow exhaust system and lots of other unseen go-fast tweaks. By the way, Lincoln Y-blocks were “side oilers” allowing better delivery of lubricant to the main bearings.

When it came to the M-335 as a vehicle, more than just the specially developed Lincoln engine went into the vehicle. The front end of the car had a lot of Lincoln or station wagon suspension pieces as well. They also received the first-year Ford aluminum bell housing that enclosed a heavy-duty clutch and 35-pound flywheel. Out back, the suspension was truck-derived where possible, and all 335s had the first-year 9-inch rear axle. The three-speed manual was the only transmission available, and it was rebuilt for heavy duty work in the Stroppe shop.

1957 Mercury Monterey M-335 Specifications

Vehicle Type: Mercury Monterey 2-door Coupe (Known to also be fitted to one station wagon and a few Turnpike Cruisers, including a convertible).

      • Price Base price: $2,357 As generally delivered: $3,097
      • Standard options on most cars delivered to the public: Heater, $45.00 AM radio, $95.00 M-335 engine package, $600.00

Engine Type: Lincoln/Mercury OHV V-8 cast-iron block and cylinder heads, aluminum intake manifold.

      • Displacement: 368 cubic inches
      • Bore x Stroke: 4.00 x 3.66 inches
      • Compression ratio: 10.0:1
      • Horsepower @ RPM: 335 @ 5,400
      • Torque @ RPM: 425-lbs.ft. @ 3,000
      • Fuel system: Dual Holley four-barrel carburetors
      • Camshaft: Iskenderian “high speed” mechanical – 286° duration intake and exhaust, 0.468″ lift at valve.
      • Ignition system: 12-volt battery and coil
      • Lubrication system: Full pressure
      • Exhaust system: Cast-iron manifolds, dual 2-inch exhaust

Transmission Type:

      • Three-speed T-85 manual
      • Borg & Beck clutch
      • Ratios 1st: 2.49:1 2nd: 1.59:1 3rd: 1.00:1 Reverse: 3.15:1

Differential Type:

      • Ford 9-inch
      • Ratio: 3.89:1

The Mercury M-335 versus the Mercury Turnpike Cruiser 368. Both were Lincoln-based, but the Stroppe-built option used Lincoln blocks due to better assembly tolerances. Regardless, Stroppe’s shop disassembled and “blueprinted” the blocks and heads. Even with a bore and stroke of 4.00 x 3.66 inches, the blocks had to be notched for the intake valve after the high lift cam was installed.

The M-335 aluminum intake manifold was created especially for the engine – though produced outside the Mercury factory. It was marked with the racing “M” and is highly rare and difficult to find. $5,000 is generally the asking price today.

%d bloggers like this: