How an Escanaba man landed a one-of-a-kind car thanks to Lee Iacocca

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:06 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Thanks to his persistence 55 years ago in phone call to a famous automobile executive, an Escanaba, Michigan, man can make a claim that no one else in the world can.

Thursday, he turned over his prized possession, a 1966 Mercury Park Lane, to The Automobile Gallery in Green Bay.

In 1966, John Kroll says he was a young man who liked speed behind the wheel.

And as a strong Ford guy, General Motors cars were starting to give him a little run for his money.

“I thought to myself, well, the next car I buy, I’m not going to come in second,” recalls Kroll.

So Kroll paid a visit to his hometown Ford dealer, Northern Motor Company.

“And I knew the dealership very well, and I wanted this Park Lane in a police package. We sent the order in and the order came back in a week or so, came back canceled. I moped around for about a week or 10 days and came home from work one day and told my wife, I says, well I’m calling the Lincoln-Mercury Division in Dearborn and find out why that car got canceled,” explains Kroll.

Kroll then made that call, and after explaining his story to the receptionist insisted he talk with the top person in charge.

His persistence paid off.

“Lee Iacocca got on the phone. At that time he was the manager of the Lincoln-Mercury Division because he’d done so well with the Mustang -- he’s known as the Father of the Mustang -- so he asked me what he could do, and I said, ‘Well sir, I ordered this car, the order came back canceled and my dealership can’t tell me why.’ He says, ‘Well give me a couple minutes.’ He came back in a few minutes and says, ‘Well Mr. Kroll, you ordered a Park Lane, two-door hard top. That’s the top of the line in a Mercury in a police package,’ and he says, ‘we don’t make police cars in two-door hard tops,’” recounts Kroll.

Kroll’s immediate response to Iacocca?

“I’ve been a Ford man all my life, and if I can’t get what I want, I says I’m thinking about buying a Pontiac.”

And that is all it took.

Kroll says Iacocca connected him with the manager of Limited Production Vehicles and then offered him some parting advice.

“He says, ‘John, if you’re successful in getting the car you want, I suggest you never sell it because there will be many made to look like it but there will never be another one made like it,” says Kroll of the conversation.

55 years later, Kroll’s 1966 Mercury Park Lane remains in near mint condition with 43,000 miles and everything still original.

Set to turn 87 next month, Kroll says he’s honored to turn it over to The Automobile Gallery so others can enjoy the car and the amazing story behind it.

“The only one in the world made like it,” says Kroll with a proud smile.

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