Featured Cars

June 14, 2016

3x Mercury Perfection

More articles by »
Written by: Rik Hoving
Tags: , , , ,



Three 1949-1951 Mercurys Customs at the 2016 CCR show caught my eye, just a little more than other Custom Mercs at the event. 3x Mercury Perfection.

There were over 200 really fantastic Custom Cars at the 2016 Custom Car Revival show in Indianapolis, an amazing amount of all custom cars at this customs only event. Quite a few cars stood out from the rest to me, based on personal taste, and or historic significance. The King of Customs, the 1949 – 1951 Mercury was very well present at this event, from mild lowered with minimal body modifications, to wild chopped and sculptured samples and of course the Icon of the 1980’s Jack Walker’s Doug Thompson built Hirohata Mercury clone. But there were three ’49-51 Mercury’s that stood out for me at this event. Because they were so absolutely perfect in my eyes, or because they had that “I want it” gotcha factor. Its always tricky and hard to highlight some of the many, since you always feel like you are leaving out some that should be on “the list” as well. And so it was at this show… Still I picked three Merc that I like to highlight here since they gave me goose bumps, and because to me they show how these mercury’s look at there very best… at least to me.

One things I noticed on all three Mercury’s I picked for this is that despite the look and feel of all three is very much early 1950’s. And obviously they were all inspired by the famous early chopped California Mercury‘s, as we all know them rolling out of the Ayala, Barris and other famous shops. The one thing these three had in common, but were different from the historic Merc was that they retained the drip rails.

1950 Mercury 

The first one to highlight is this new-to-me 1950 Mercury owned by John Hojnacki, in a wonderful deep burgundy paint. At this point I do not know anything about the car othere than what I see in the photos. I do not know who built it, or who owns it. All I know is that everything done to this ’49 Mercury is just so right on the money. Everything done is to enhance the beauty of the ’50 Mercury, not just for the sake of change, or to be different than the rest. All metal work as well as the chop was done by Tommy Steadman, Ardmore TN. Finish body work by Donn Lowe, Portland, OR. David Wolk talked to the owner who mentioned the car was just finished and it only had 12 miles on it.

CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-01A new smaller and smooth grille opening was created using a flipped upside down second Merc grille surround molded to the molded in splash pan. An Chrysler grille bar was v-ed to match the grille opening. Hood corners were rounded with a diameter that matches the frenched 52-53 Merc headlights. A subtile wheel lip is added, which matches the lip on the flush ’51 Merc fender skirts. 


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-04The top was chopped just the right amount and flows perfectly into the stock three piece rear window. The trunk corners are rounded and the belt-line trim extended to fill the rounded section (very neat detail). The rear hood corners are rounded, and so are the door corners to make sure the is nearly no sharp line on the car. The side trim is shortened in the front. Only “minus” is the stance in this photo, but I assume, hope the might be some way to lower the rear easily. (This photo was taken at set-up day.)


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-07The ’53 cadillac hubcaps are updated with a smooth bullet in the center and mounted on red rimed wide whites… perfect combination. This photo shows how the front of the hood shape flows with the reshaped Chrysler grille and echoes in the lower grille surround piece. Of course all handles and emblems were shaved.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-03The interior is done very tasteful as well. The Mercury dash is replaced by a 1950 Lincoln unit and topped with a perfect Mercury Monterey steering wheel.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-06The upholstery is done in off white and dark gray tuck & roll in a very nicely done classic early 1950’s style. The drip rails remain on this car, but are filled and smoothed.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-05The rear splash pan is just as the front nicely molded to the body, and the bottom corners of the trunk are rounded. The stock taillights are replaced with frenched and lipped 1949-50 Ford taillights with added blue dots. The lip around the taillights is particular nice since it duplicates the headlight treatment really nice.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-08With the hood op it shows that the engine is a work of art as well with three Edmunds air-cleaners and beautiful paint and chrome details.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-09Early Cadillac engine as beautiful detailed as the rest of the car.


1950 Mercury

The second Mercury to highlight is Dave Wolk‘s 1950 Mercury. More information on Dave’s Mercury can be found on the CCC-Forum-Post with many detailed as well as in progress photos. David’s Mercury is just as the first one a study in design excellence. Very smooth with a lot of trim, emblems and handles shaved, but with just enough remaining details to make the whole concept very attractive and interesting. The overall style is not so much different than the ’49 Merc above, yet the appearance it quite different due to the use of many different details. David’s merc has an slightly older look and feel due to the use of the Sombrero hubcaps, the use of Appleton Spotlights, molded in stock headlights in reshaped fenders, and the hand made bumper guard grille.

CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-01The top was chopped just the right amount for this car with the B-Pillar leaned forward, but with the top corners left sharp. David made the grille from Bumper guard parts combined with 1951 Ford grille parts. The front of the front fenders was extended at the top and gently falling back towards the moled in splash pan. Stock headlights where molded in, to give the car and early feel. grille surround was molded in and hood corners rounded with a small radius. The front of the side trim was replaced with a rear quarter section flipped from side to side. Another subtile detail are the slightly green tinted window glass.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-02Trunk corners are rounded with – just as the hood corners – a small radius. ’48-’51 Hudson taillights were modified to fit the Mercury rear fenders, and as this photo shows they fit the car and shape of the bumper guards really nice. The rear splash pan was molded in, and a set of 1951 Mercury skirts was modified to fit flush with the body. Notice how well the roof and rear window flow on the car.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-03On the inside David spend a lot of time and creativity to get the right Art-Deco feel. The dash is a modified 1948 Cadillac unit with a home made Art-Deco center grille. David also used the beautiful Mercury Monterey accessory steering wheel in his white and dark blue tuck & roll interior.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-04David’s early look is enhanced by the use of a pair of perfectly restored Appleton spotlights.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-05This last photo shows the really nice and a bit unusual color David mixed for his mercury. The color is one more thing that really set this one apart from the rest. The gray-ish feel of the color gives the car a sort of factory stock feeling. 


1951 Mercury

The last Merc in this highlight article is one that is quite different than the other two. First because its a ’51 model with the longer rear fenders, but also because it has a much more in your face, and perhaps a bit more modern feel to it. The car was built by Ron Box from, Ontario, Canada. The chop on the car is a bit more extreme than the 49 and 50 above. The more modern look and feel comes from the left short rear portion of the roof. The shortened rear quarter windows and the extended catwalk (section from the trunk to the rear window). The stock large ’51 rear window was replaced with a smaller ’50 Mercury unit and the C-pillars are a bit thinner than what we are used to see in the typical ’50’s style. Ron also decided to remove the vent windows and modified to doors to accept one piece door glass, which gives the car more of the modern feeling.

One of the most tricking elements on Ron’s mercury is the beautifully reshaped smooth front bumper and stock grille with the bumper guard sections replaced with extra grille tooth. The shape of the grille and bumper is repeated in the molded-in lip on the hood. The ’51 mercury has a slightly extruding grille surround and Ron was able to rework it in such a way that is still feels stock, but much nicer flowing than the way that came from the factory. The bright “in your face” red paint really jumps at you. Combined with wonderful flow and proportions this custom Merc is a perfect ambassador to draw people into loving Custom Cars. There is just no way Ron’s Mercury can go unnoticed where ever it is parked.

CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-01This photo shows how the shapes of the smoothed bumper (which required another spare bumper to create) the grille and the lip on the hood all match. The car was chopped more as well as lowered more than the other two, giving the car a much longer appearance… the longer ’51 Merc rear fenders also help with this of course. Ron used a more busy design of the ’57 Cadillac hubcap for his car and dressed itp up with a smooth center bullet, which works really well with the shape of the grille ends.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-02The rear fenders were molded to the body and the stock taillight replace with tunneled ’50 Lincoln taillights. The rear bumper is mostly stock, but smoothed and dressed up with a ’55 Pontiac license plate guard. The ’51 Merc skirts are stock and the trunk corners are not rounded. This photo shows the extended catwalk and the pushed forward ’50 Mercury rear window.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-03Some ’51 Mercury use a ’49-50 mercury grille surround and no lip on the hood like on Ron’s mercury. But on Ron’s car the lip works so fine with the grille and bumper, it gives the car a sharp edged look. The stance in combination with the heavy chop it very nicely balanced also.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-04Frenched ’53 Mercury headlights work perfect with the lipped hood.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-07David Myers took a nice detail photo showing the hood corners and how the lip on the bottom of the hood was done. Not molded in like we normally see, but it works really well on this Merc.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-05The interior of Ron’s ’51 Mercury uses a modified ’51 Merc dash dressed up with much more modern components than the other two Mercury’s. This might just as the “cotcha” outside looks, appeal more to a wider audience, and help draw more people into liking Custom Cars.


CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-06There is just no way you can miss Ron’s ultra red nicely balanced ’51 Merc any where it is parked. 


Three Mercury Customs, all three quite different, yet all three based or influenced by the early chopped Customs from the early 1950’s. Two of them styled similar to these early ’50’s historic customs, but obviously a lot more fine tuned and sophisticated than the cars they are based on. Yet these two are very restraint in their looks and feel, and might be overlooked by the untrained eye. The third one more modernized and perhaps more appealing to a wider range of car enthusiast making it a perfect ambassador to draw people into liking Custom Cars. Many more photos of these and other customs at the 2016 Custom Car Revival event can be viewed here.

Special thanks to Richard Slim Toonkel, Mark Moriarity, Jamie Hall, David Wolk and John Bailey for the photos used in this article.

(this article is sponsored by)



2,710 total views, 10 views today

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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)



  1. All three are really nice Mercs with great chops. The ’48 Cadillac dash and some of the other details like the Hudson tailights give the ’50 Merc an upscale classic look!

  2. Rik, great story.
    I talked to the owner of the burgundy 49 merc. Sorry, I didn’t get his name or where he was from. The merc was at the hotel, but he didn’t take it to the show. He said the car has power steering and he was having problems with it. The car was recently finished and he said it only had about 10 miles on it.
    The owner said his original plan was to restore the car, but then he changed directions and customized it. Other than adjusting the stance, by lowering the back more I wouldn’t change a thing. It was extremely nice car and I loved the Lincoln dash. Very classy car.

    • I meant to say I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • Rik and David, Thank you for the kind words about my 1949 (actually a 1950) Mercury. This was the BEST show I have been to and I am looking forward to next year. I bought the car in 1988 and started on it about 1990, originally wanted to restore it but after failing to purchase a finished 1950 Mercury kustom I decided to build my own. It is a one owner California/Nebraska car that I used all NOS doors, quarters, chrome etc. It was a body off frame with every part and frame powder coated. I wanted it to look as it would have been built by Barris in the early 1950’s. The car has just been completed (12 miles) and needs a few bugs taken care of. All metal work as well as the chop done by Tommy Steadman, Ardmore TN, Finish body work by Donn Lowe, Portland, OR. Engine is a 331 Cadillac with early speed equiptment. The car resides in Muskego, WI. Thank you, John Hojnacki

  3. I also forgot to mention the 49 merc had an early Cadillac engine. I think he said 390 ci.

  4. nice cars an mercs musta been a good show,

  5. All three are very nice Mercs. I have never seen detail shots of the burgundy one…what a beautiful car. David, your Merc is killer…the Cadillac dash is a nice touch. Red ’51 looked good in Custom Rodder…or maybe it was another magazine. Cool to see the differences on these three!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *