Mercury’s by Larry Watson

 

MERCURYS BY WATSON

 

Larry Watson painted an incredible amount of cars in his long career, however only very few Mercury’s made it to his shop.



[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the Personal Collection of photos from Larry Watson there is only a very small amount showing Mercury Custom’s painted by Larry. This otherwise so popular brand with Customizers was for unknown reasons not to popular with Larry’s clients. Perhaps he did more than what we can see in his Collection of photos, but those others were never captured on film before they left the shop. But I have to say it is a bit strange how few Mercury photos we have found in the Personal files. Especially since the once part of this collection are so particular nice. It really makes you wonder why there are so very few mercury’s painted by Larry Watson.

A lot of photos from the Larry Watson Personal Collection came with no info. Some, fortunately quite a few, could be identified using old magazine articles, or using the few interviews with Larry. But there still is a large group of photos that show unidentified cars. Larry knew most of the names of the owners of cars he painted. He even knew most of the paint formulas he used on those cars. The plan was that Larry would document all this information on video when he would talk about each and every photo in his huge Collection. Sadly Larry passed away before this happened, so we are still left with a lot of unidentified car photos in this collection. So if you recognize any of the cars in the photos in this article, please let us know so that we can put a name with the cars in this Mercury’s by Larry Watson article.


[box_light]This article shows a selection of photos of Mercury Customs painted by Larry Watson. Most of these photos come from the Larry Watson Personal Photo Collection. More on Larry’s personal collection can be found in the Larry Watson section on the CCC-Site. Or on the Custom Car Photo Archive.[/box_light]

CCC-larry-watson-mercury-01Very classic restyled 1955 Mercury with smoothed body, with all the handles and emblems removed before the white and red paint were applied by Larry. The car was lowered quite a bit, had flush fitting skirts installed and Spotlight installed. As with a lot of the photos in Larry’s personal Collection they came with no info who was the owner.  Who’s very nicely done 1955 Mercury was this?
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-08Amazing looking outline paint j0b on this 1956 Mercury photographed in front of Larry’s Rosecrans Blvd shop sign in 1959. Typical for the era the Mercury was just mildly customized with some emblem removal, and a mild lowering. Color coded 1959 Dodge hubcaps on semi wide white tires, dummy lake pipes and dummy spotlights were all it took as far as the customizing. Larry added the super gloss black paint, and outlined the body character lines in medium blue metallic outlined in white. The grille on the Mercury had a few of the vertical bars painted in blue as well. There was no name with this photo, and there was only one photo of the car in Larry’s Collection.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-07Unidentified Candy red painted 1953 Mercury in front of the Larry Watson Shop. Typical for a lot of the photos in Larry’s personal Collection are that they were taken late on the day, with long shadow’s, and usually the photographers shadow can be seen in the photo. The car is another very mild custom with the headlights molded in, the enblems and handles shaved. Take a look at how even and smooth the Candy Red paint job is. Larry was a perfectionist when it came to laying down colors no matter if they were pearls or candies. He perfected the way to spray even coats the whole length of a car with huge, smooth steps and accurate spray gun control. Sadly this is the only photo of the car in the collection.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-15Painted by Larry Watson in late 1957, early 1958 is this mild customized 1955 Mercury with wild scallops in silver and dark purple. The ‘Snake Wagon”.Larry was aways looking for new ideas and something different to do on each car he worked on, especially in the early years. For  Calvin Wiecamp’s Mercury he designed flowing scallops and spade shaped elements for the fenders. And to make them really special he painted them in silver for the base. This was followed with a fading stripe pattern done in very dark purple. The completed scallops were outlined in white. The end result was a very wild paint job that made it into quite a few magazines. Because of the looks of the stripped scallops Larry nick named the car ‘ Snake Wagon”. Most likely this wild paint job on Calvin’s Mercury got Larry a lot of new customers. However this style of fogged scallops would not be repeated by Larry. You can read more on Calvin’s 1955 Mercury in the CCC-Article on the car.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-13It would be great to have a name to go with all the cars in the Watson Photo Collection, but unfortunately most of that information is lost. Hopefully some readers will recognize the cars we show here and share information about the cars’ history or owners. It is truly amazing the amount of cars that Larry painted in his career. Many of these cars never made it into the early magazines but that does not mean they were not worthy. Case in point is this near stock 1956 Mercury hardtop in panel-painted silver and candy green. The wide whites with color detailed Lancer four bar wheel covers and the California rake look stunning.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-12A very nicely done unidentified 1956 Mercury. We have seen very few photos of this very atractive Mercury, and nobody seams to be able to remember the owners name. Hopefuly one day  we will be able to identify the car. Before Larry went to work applying his magic paint, the body was smoothed, and most of the trim, except for the characteristic side trim pieces was removed. The door handles where replaced with electrical solenoids. The suspension was reworked for a much lower stance and the lake pipes and Bellflower tips at the back make it look even lower. The Dodge four bar lancer hubcaps where painted root beer in the center to match the body, and mounted on gold painted wheels. Larry Painted the body in a wonderful candy root beer and outlined it in lime gold. Larry created a much larger outline around the body main character lines than he usually did, and around this heavy outline he created another outline in gold. Except the outlines around the chrome trim below the side windows and on the top. Those where outlined in a double, heavy white tripping. A set of spotlights and a full white tuck&roll interior make this car a wonderful sample of late 1950’s customizing. 
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-11This photo comes from my own personal collection. It was taken at the same location as the photo above, possibly at the same day and same photo-shoot. This photo gives us a look at the front which was cleaned up with the removal of the vertical grille bars at the bottom. In the background on the right we can see the 1959 Chevy Impala Larry painted for Bob Mayfields, and on the left  Jim Doss’s 1958 Chevy Impala also painted by Larry.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-10Larry Watson photographed by Jim Potter while he was duplicating the flames he had laid out on one side of this 1949-50 Mercury, so that he could have the drivers side a perfect match. We can see the wide tape Larry used to tape up the great looking flames. There is no date on this photo, but by the looks of Larry and the style of flames I say this is in late 1956 or 1957, before Larry developed the much longer sea weed flames. This black&white photo was used in an article on scalloping (round-up and how to) in an issue of Car Speed and Style magazine. The author of this article was James Richards, which was a name used by Jim Potter when he wrote for magazines on the east coast. Larry did not have any photos of the finished flames in his Personal Collection. 
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-09This 1954 Mercury is another one of my personal favorite Watson paint jobs. Candy red with pale gold outlines on this mildly de-chromed Mercury. The only customizing has been some mild chrome removing and a lowered stance with four bar hubcaps, and a full custom interior in white tuck & roll with red accents and piping. Once again the Larry Watson style of paint with the perfect colors for this car, makes this a very unique and attractive Mercury custom car. This photo was taken in late 1959, or early 1960. And sadly this is the only photo of this car in Larry’s personal Collection. who’s Mercury was this, and what happened to it?
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-05Jack Arnold had his 1956 Mercury painted by Larry Watson in white with swoopy dark red/maroon scallops. The car was mildly customized with custom taillights made out of four 1956 Packard taillights. The car was shaved, nosed and decked. This photo was taken in a park that was used a lot for photo shoots in the mid/late 1950’s. I recognize it from a lot of photos. Which park is it… anybody knows?
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-06A more close up of Jack Arnold’s Mercury gives us a better look at the huge taillights and wonderful flowing scallops Larry applied on the car. The deep red with white piping interior looks very attractive.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-04This Candy Tangerine and Gold flake 1956 Mercury was owned by Agie Winn. It had a wild sculptured scoop on the sides, and extended front fenders, which do not show well in this photo. It also had a set of 1956 Packard taillights sitting in reshaped rear fenders. The side trim is made up of 1956 Buick trim on the sides and 1958 Buick trim on the rear quarters. The body work on this car was done by Bill DeCarr. Larry Watson painted Agie Winn’s 1956 Mercury in Candy Tangerine and Gold. 
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-03One of Larry Watson wildest paint jobs must have been the multi colored scalloped chopped and sculptured 1955 Mercury for Dave Kyte. Larry used a pearl white as the base for a dramatic scallop/panel job in lime green, or light gold, candy burnt orange and candy purple fades. Dave’s Mercury had wonderful sculptured rear fenders. DeSoto front bumper/grille, and great looking to to often seen chopped top on this type of car. Four bar lancer hubcaps and slight forward rake give it the perfect California style for the late 1950’s early 1960’s. This photo also shows a small portion of Larry’s own 1958 T-Bird in its last panel and fade version. More on Dave Kyte’s Mercury can be found in the CCC-Article on the car.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-02There was no information with this photo of what looks like a freshly painted Candy light blue and white, 1957 Mercury. Possebly the owner of the car had just piked up his car after Larry had painted it and was in the process of getting everything installed on the car.
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CCC-larry-watson-mercury-14Too bad we have only found a black and white photo of this great looking mildly customized 1957 Mercury hardtop. After the new car was nosed and decked, Larry applied the pearl white base followed with light blue panels and dark blue fogging. this car was have looked amazing in color. with its matching white and dark blue horizontal pleated interior. Of special interest is the way Larry added extra “movement” into the heavy side panels of this Mercury. If the painted panel on the body side would have simply followed the wheel openings front and rear the whole car would have looked a lot heavier. Small details like this make the work of Larry Watson so interesting.
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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)

3 thoughts on “Mercury’s by Larry Watson

  • October 2, 2014 at 18:34
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    Another great article by Rik on the creative paint work of Larry Watson. My two favorites are the candy red ’54 Merc and the ’57 Merc in the last photo.

  • October 4, 2014 at 00:56
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    Great pics as always Rik As I mentioned in a comment ot memo I have a real soft spot for the 55-56 Mercs as a 56 2dr Htp Montclaire was my car thru High School.
    Torchie.

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