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Custom Car Builders

September 22, 2014

Paul Bragg 1949 Mercury

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Written by: Rik Hoving
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PAUL BRAGG 1949 MERCURY

Master Customizer Paul Bragg built this 1949 Mercury in the early 1980’s. A masterpiece of style, balance and perfection.

 

I

cannot remember when I saw pictures of Paul Bragg’s two tone green 1949 Mercury for the first time. It could very well be the 6 page article in Car Culture DeLuxe magazine, or perhaps somewhere on-line. But I do know that when I saw it, the car had a big impact on me. Paul’s personal 1949 Mercury is a rather subtile Mercury, nothing really wild, and it has customizing parts that have been used many times before on a 49-51 Mercury. But the whole package, the amount and style of the chop, the stance, the color, it is all just perfect. The overall proportions on the Paul Bragg 1949 Mercury make this car an absolute classic masterpiece.

Paul found this 1949 Mercury at a Santa Maria junk yard in the late 1970’s. Paul had heard about this yard with mostly Cadillac and Lincoln cars, and how its content was listed to be crushed. Paul took a look and stored in the back with at least 200 cars in front of it, he found this mostly complete 1949 Mercury. There was just no way he would be able to get it out of there though. All he could do was get back to the yard later and hope they had not gotten to the Merc to crush it yet. The whole section of the yard where the Merc was parked was scheduled to be crushed in the portable crusher. But they could not tell Paul when they estimated to get to the section the Merc was located. Fortunately Paul showed up just as they were getting ready to lift the car out with a chain through the doors. Paul payed $200.- for the Mercury and put it on the trailer he bought, and drove it home. Now the fun stuff could start.

CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-01Paul’s Mercury all the way in the back of the yard.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-02Hard to imagine that all these cars were crushed!! Paul’s Mercury is al the way in the back, not visable in this photo.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-03The Merc safe t home, and Paul is already starting to take it apart.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-04The first things Paul was molding a set of 1952 Mercury headlight rings to the front fenders, mold in the grille surround and round the hood corners with just the perfect radius.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-11This photo shows Paul’s metal master work on the front fenders, Frenched headlights, molded grille surround, rounded hood corners, filled parking lights and molded splash pan, all finished in lead.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-05When the work on the hood and front fenders was done he added primer to those sections, and then it was time for the chop. In this photo Paul had cut the front 3 inches and the back enough to give it an pleasant, or call it perfect flow. Many time stepping back and checking the work, then cutting a little more ended up in a removal of about 5 inches in the back. The rear window section was still uncut at this moment. Paul also removed the door handles at this point.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-06Using a metal rod the flow of the top to the rear window and trunk was established. This photo shows how much the rear of the top needs to be moved up to get in line with the laid forward rear window. The lower edge of the rear window remains in the stock position, the top of the rear window surrounded metal was pushed down to get in line with the rod for the perfect flow.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-08Relieve cuts were made in the top to be able to push it up to meet the rear window surround, the flow from the rear window into the top is now absolutely perfect.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-07Paul used some paper to see if the flow on the c-pillars was good, and how the metal filler pieces would need to be shaped.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-09The glass was removed, and extra rods welded in the rear window opening before the rear window surround was welded solid and all the filler pieces for the c-pillar and lower roof sections were fabricated and welded in place.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-10The drip rails were shaved and Paul decided to go with a forward angled B-Pillar design for his Mercury. The top corners were rounded. Paul spend a lot of work here to get the flow just right.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-14Passenger door frame all metal finished. And it looks very good.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-13The rear of the top all metal finished.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-12The rear quarter windows all metal finished. The shape of the rear quarter window flows very nicely into the rounded corner of the door opening. Some carefull planning and cutting goes into this. An very important step when you remove the drip rail from a 49-51 Mercury.

 

 
CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-15

CCC-paul-bragg-49-mercury-16The mercury with all the fresh metal worked restyling on the trailer being moved to the Bragg’s new house in Nipomo. 

 

 
Paul Bragg has chopped many 1949-51 Mercury’s in his long career, and each of them he chops in a different way. One things that is particular nice on Paul’s 1949 Mercury is the rather sharp rear corner on the rear quarter windows. This sharper corner works really well with the flow of the top, but also with the angled forward B-Pillars. With the body work now in primer Paul is very happy and cannot wait to get the rest of the car done so that he can drive it, but first they have to move into a new home.
 

This is a two page article!

Continue reading on page two.
 
 

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About the Author

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)




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9 Comments


  1. Great post Rik! I love Paul’s work and it is always great to see it highlighted. Any word on his ’41 or Pat’s ’54 lately?


  2. Looking forward to pat 2 Rik.


  3. Eric, there will be no part two. There is a second page to this article, you can click on page 2 at the bottom of this page, where it says continue on page two!
    This is someting new I tried here on the CCC site… Since there was so much material on Pauls Mercury.

    Rik


  4. Great pics and loved the 2 page article as well Rik.
    A great example of an extrememly well done Merc.
    Torchie.


  5. Rik..you know how i feel about this one. the best executed 49 ever. the chop is perfect, and the rest of the car is not overdone anywhere. and i have a soft spot for green colors. i would love the hubcaps where 3-4 years earlier though. ..thanks for showing those early photos, really great to see
    but is there any car done by Paul that isnt just perfect!? no
    -palle


  6. Green shades have always been my favorite colors. Except olive green.
    When this car was new, I thought olive was just about the worst color for a custom. But, wow – does it look good to me today!

    It’s funny how people have such strong feelings for color and how those feelings can change over time.


  7. Wonderful pictures from Paul ,, Thanks Rik!


  8. Like Palle, I’m very tired of ’57 Caddy hubcaps. But, for whatever reason, I actually like them on this car. Maybe because the car is so subtle they actually work? Usually when I see ’57 Caddy caps on a Merc, there will also be lake pipes, flamed paint, big Desoto grille, fuzzy dice, etc. Not to mention bullets in the center of the cap. Like I said before, they are good for me on this one. However, I agree, older model caps would look very nice.

    Thanks for all the great build photos, too, so we can see how the cuts were made.


  9. Now… an example of a wonderfully planned and executed “early style” custom built in the not so great taste wasteland of the 1980’s. This is a superior effort indeed.



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