Custom Car Chronicle
Barris Kustom ShopThe Tom Nielsen Collection

Bob Tormey Mercury Color Photos


Tom Nielsen has been sharing some great vintage custom car photos with us in the past. In this article he shows us two nice color photos of Bob Tormey’s 1941 Mercury Coupe built at the Barris Kustom Shop.

Bob Tormey from Yakima bought this 1941 Mercury on his visit to Los Angeles in 1951. The car had been built at the Barris Kustom Shop. Sadly we don not see many customs based on the long wheel base 1941 Mercury’s. Bob’s car shows just how great these cars can look fully customized. The team at the Barris shop restyled this Mercury in a late 1940’s style. The chopped the top with great proportions and most likely at the owners request they left the drip rails in place. Something rather odd for those days, especially in California were they had mostly great weather.


 The side shot shows how perfectly the Barris shop chopped the top on this 1941 Mercury. An absolutely perfect flow and profile. The side shot also shows the wonderful stance. Also notice how they added the rather large radius on the trunk corner. This makes the trunk lines flow much nicer into the roof line. The headlights are frenched and the hood was smoothed. Some of the chrome was shaved, but the side trim remained, though shortened on the hood, a typical late 1940’s modification. A set of 1937 De Soto bumpers was added. The rest of the car is pretty much stock. The fenders where not even molded in, and even the door handles stayed on… perfect! The body mods are most likely the work of Sam Barris… he had such an eye for perfectly flowing body lines.


The car was shown quite a hit in Washington, the home state of Bob. Here the car was shown for many years in a slightly updated version of how Bob bought the car from the Barris Shop.
Rod & Custom magazine featured Bob’s Mercury in the March 1956 issue on three full pages.

These two photos from the Tom Nielsen collection are taken in 1955 at the Arlington Drag Strip in Arlington, Washington. They are the first color photos I have seen of this great “Titian Red” lacquer painted 1941 Mercury Custom.

Below are the photos cropped to have a better look at Bob Tormey Mercury.




Rod & Custom March 1956 issue of Rod & Custom showed Bob’s Mercury on three pages. The article featured photos taken by Bob himself.














Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

4 thoughts on “Bob Tormey Mercury Color Photos

  • This car was and still is one of my favorite customs ever. I only had the Rod & Custom article and photos to go by, but they made such an impression on my 11 year old mind and eyes that I never forgot it. These are the only other photos I have seen, and to be in color is really amazing. The 41 Merc seems to have been underutilized but I don’t think it should be underrated when it comes to a beautiful custom build exercise. Thanks for this article Rick.

  • Yet another fine custom (Kustom) from the Barris brothers. I’m interested in seeing the interiors from this period as well as there seems to be quite a transition in styles in the half dozen years after the war.. One can never get too much information on the post-war customs in my opinion. Thanks to both you and Tom for sharing these pics.


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