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Gardena Ca Mystery Merc




This great looking 1939 Mercury Convertible with 1939 Buick Grille and Chopped padded top was built in 1947. Who owned it, and where is it now?

Don Schumacher¬†from Long Beach California send me a few photos of an very interesting ’39 Mercury in November 2016. He mentioned that the photos were some scans he made of snapshots from the family album. And that this car was photographed at his father’s, Walt Schumacher’s Body Shop In Gardena California. One of the photos had some more info written on the back;¬†Chopped ’39 Mercury, ’39 Buick grill 1947.¬†He had posted the images on his Instagram before he shared them with me, and there somebody had suggested that it might possibly be an early version of the Jimmy Summers Mercury. He was wondering if I could help him figuring out any of the cars history and if it was indeed the Jimmy Summers Mercury before Jimmy channeled the car.

Even though the photo was taken at Walt Schumacher’s¬†shop, Don did not know anything about it, and he was pretty sure the Mercury was a customs car, not his fathers personal Custom. Don was into all kinds of things, but not in this type of old cars, and never asked his father about the time he had his Body Shop in Gardena. He never asked him about the car he built, or this ’39 Mercury in particular…¬†Don mentioned “Its not until people are gone that you wish you had asked more questions about their life.” So this ’39 Mercury in the family scrapbook is another great looking¬†Mystery Custom.

ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-03-newThe front 3/4 view shows how nice the ’39 Buick grille was fitted to the smoothed ’39 Mercury front end. A lot of work went into this, reshaping the spotlight¬†metal.

ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-01-newThis photo taken a little further away gives us a good look at how well proportioned and restyled this car was. Created most likely by Don Shumacher’s father in his Body shop in Gardena California. The car appears to be freshly done, and about ready for paint.

When Don asked me if this could perhaps be the¬†Jimmy Summers Mercury, as he was told it might be, I was able to give him a firm NO very quick. The car in these photos is an ’39 Mercury with no vent window’s, while the Jimmy Summers Mercury is an ’40 Mercury. Also the chop in the windshield appears to be more on the Gardena Mercury, than on Jimmy’s Mercury. Plus the rear fenders are molded in on the Gardena Mercury, while those on Jimmy Summer’s Mercury are still separate units after the body was channeled over the frame and the fenders raised up into the body. And then there was the note on the back of one of the photos stating the photo was taken in 1947. Jimmy’s Mercury was finished in it first maroon color, all channeled and with the home made grille in 1946. So these photos are not of an early version of the the Jimmy Summers Mercury.

But what is the story about this really nicely done ’39 Mercury? Who owned it? was it Don’s father’s personal car, or did he built it for a customer? And what ever happened to the car. I do not think I have ever seen another photo of this Mercury before, or at least not from the front. I have never seen an 40’s built ’39-40 Mercury that had a ’39 Buick grille installed this way.

ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-02-newThe fact that there is a photo taken of the ’39 Buick grille in the ’39 Merc indicates that the builder was very proud of his work. And judging the photos we can say he can be very proud about it. The grille installment looks really well done and suits the car really good.


The Mercury appears to have been very nicely restyled by a professional body shop. Especially the addition of the Buick grille and the way it was used was done by a skilled body man who also had a great eye. The two half of the Buick grille are separated by mild v-shaped center piece on a stock ’39 Buick, but they are butted together on this Mercury. And the surrounding metal of the hood and front fenders have been expertly modified to make the Buick grille look right at home. The hood has been shaved and the belt line trim has been removed completely, but the door handles are still in place. ’40 Mercury or Ford headlights replace the plain ’39 model headlights.

The windshield frame has been chopped, quite heavy. The low padded top looks to have a very nice flowing back portion. The rear fenders have been molded to the body, and possibly the fronts as well, but that we cannot see in the photos. A set of ’37 DeSoto ribbed bumpers replace the stock units and a set of teardrop skirts are used on the rear fenders. The car rolls on black wall tires wit single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings.

Has anybody ever seen or heard about this Gardena California based ’39 Mercury? Perhaps knows who owned in back in 1947, or knows what ever happened to it. If so, please let us know. We would love to solve the mysteries around this great looking mid early Custom Merc.

Updated November 18, 2016

After we had created this article Don was all excited and went back to the family album to see if he could find some more photos that could help with the search on this Mercury. Sadly no other photos of the Mercury were found, but he did find a few other photos that we thought would be interesting to add to this article. Don was also able to rescan the Mercury photos a bit larger, so now the used scans are larger, and more crisp.

Picking up a 40 Ford

Don send me a photo of his father with a 1940 Ford¬†Coupe he bought brand new in 1940 in Detroit.¬†They drove to Detroit¬†in his friends ’39 Ford to pickup his ’40 Ford. Don thinks that maybe his father saved transportation charges that way, he¬†was told he got it much cheaper that way, than when he would have bought it in California. They must’ve been flying to average 60 mph on those roads and going through towns before there was an interstate.

ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-00The photo album also contained this¬†newspaper clipping in which Don’s father was mentioned for his speedy traveling from California to Detroit.¬†

ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-01Walt Schumacher with his new 1940 Ford Coupe.

The wrecked 46 Ford

Don also send me a series of photos of a 1946 Ford four door Sedan that his father rebuilt. The black ’40 deluxe coupe Walt¬†had bought new had become impractical with the family growing. ¬†So in late 1947 he bought a totaled rollover ’46 Ford four door. The pictures below are of the day he brought it home and looks like he was accusing what he had bought. Don mentioned it looked pretty scary to him, when he saw those photos again! Don thinks by then, late 1947, his father¬†may have given up his shop, since all these photos of him¬†fixing¬†this car where taken¬†at their home garage. The car¬†got a new rear door, but all the other damage¬†was repaired including the roof. That is amazing to me.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-01Walt Schumacher with the ’46 Ford wrecked Sedan he had just bought.¬†

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-02The car was a roll-over and the top was completely dented on both sides. And by the look of the doors the whole body was shifted as well.


ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-04During the roll over the rear passenger side door must have opened and bended in the wrong way.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-07Walt starting the process of restoring the wrecked sedan. Here he removed the badly damaged door. He decided that was the only part he could best replace with a new (second hand) door. All the rest of the damage was repaired by Walt.

The last two pictures were taken¬†in Clovis California . Apparently they took a vacation to see Don’s¬†mothers sister. The car is still in primer in these last two photos. When Walt had finished the car later,¬†all the side moldings were removed, it was nosed and decked and the license was frenched in to the trunk lid and covered with glass. Walt painted the car¬†shiny black and mounted a set of¬†whitewall tires and full wheel covers. It was the family car into the late 1950’s when Don remembers his¬†sister took it over and would cruise the Clock, and Jerry’ bbq in Compton Ca.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-05All the body work was done at this point and the car could be driven again. During the repair work on the main body the stainless trim was removed, and the holes filled. Later the hood trim would also be removed.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-06This is the last photo Don could find of the Ford. The family album sadly did not contain any photos of the finished sedan.

A friends Roadster

Don also came across two photos of an¬†Hot Rod roadster from 1947. Don also has no idea who’s car this is. It looks to be a channeled model A with ’32 Ford grille and welded trunk. Interesting is the set in license plate, and V-windshield from a late 30’s, perhaps early 40’s coupe or sedan. Don thinks the car might have belonged to a friend of his father.

ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-01For some reason both Hot Rod photos are in bad condition… but at the same time that makes them perhaps even more¬†interesting as well.

ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-02Cropped section of the photo gives us a bit better look at the Hot Rod. Anybody ever seen this elsewhere?


ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-04Chevy taillights mounted just above the exhaust tip. In the center is a recessed license plate behind glass. A real Custom Trick, but it was used on some Hot Rods as well.

ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-02Here is a photo of Don’s father¬†Walt standing in the doorway of the shop probably same day as the Merc photos in 1947.



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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)

2 thoughts on “Gardena Ca Mystery Merc

  • Another great looking custom that as far as anyone can tell never received any major coverage.
    I really dig the use of the Buick grill and how well the builder got it to all flow together.
    Thanks Rik.

  • Really a neat car…it’s hard to think of a grill that looks better than the stock grill in a ’40 Merc, but this is a very nice option and well done as you said. Perhaps the Jimmy Summers car was an inspiration for this restyling- Gardena and Hollywood aren’t very far apart ūüôā

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