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Bob Larson 1940 Mercury

BOB LARSON 1940 Merc

Inspired by the Nick Matranga Barris Restyled 1940 Mercury Bob Larson from Vancouver BC set out to create his own ultimate Dream Custom 1940 Mercury Coupe.

(Sponsored Article)

Bob Larson from Vancouver, B.C. Canada has been into cars for as long as he can remember. As a kid he was spending time in his fathers garage who was building cars with his uncle Bill. Absorbing all these neat techniques and little tricks from his father and uncle helped him when he started working on his first car when he was 15 years old. It was an 1950 Meteor Tudor Sedan, which he customized over a period of time. Since then he had built several other cars, both Custom and Hot Rod.

The historic Nick Matranga Mercury created by the Barris Kustom Shop and photographed by Marcia Campbell was the inspiration for Bob Larson to great his personal version of this classic Custom Car Icon.

In 2004 Bob bought a 1940 Mercury Coupe project from a  family friend. He always wanted an late 40’s early 50’s custom inspired by his favorite custom car of them all. The Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury restyled at the Barris Kustom Shop. The project was to be an inspired by project, not planning to clone since Bob had several other ideas he would like to incorporate into his dream custom. The car also needed to be practical as a driver, since all the car Bob builds are drivers, and he loves to drive them.

Monique Wilson Sache took some great photos of Bob’s Mercury recently. This front 3/4 view shows Bob’s Mercury in all its beauty. The perfect nose up, tail down speed-boat stance, and all body lines flowing towards the rear. A designers dream.

Custom Car photographer Marcia Campbell always included a full side view photo in the series of Barris Custom Cars she photographed. And this photo shows why. Its the best way to view a car, to see how the proportions are balanced, the flow of the body work… Its all just prefect on Bob’s Mercury.

The factory design of the front end of the ’40 Mercury was extremely nice already. In this case it only needed a mild clean up, removing the hood release handle and the addition of the ribbed 1949 Plymouth bumper.

The project Bob bought was far from complete, and far from in good condition. It was basically an empty shell, no glass, no drive-train. Over a period of several years Bob was able to get the car on the road so it would be a rolling project before the custom progress would get started. Next up was some careful planning on all the things Bob wanted to do to the car. Studying the Matranga Mercury, and figuring out how to incorporate his own ideas, and then the long search to find all the needed parts could begin. Around 2007 all the needed parts had been collected, and the funds to get the restyling done had been saved.

Bob took to the car to Brian Bobbett who would perform the Matranga Merc style chopped top. He took 4 inches out of the top in the front of the roof and 7 inches out of the back. Just as Sam Barris did with Nick Matranga’s Mercury back in 1950, Bob had Brian chop the actual windshield one inch less than the top itself, moving the top of the windshield up into the top. If the ‘39-40 Merc coupes get chopped the windshield usually gets to short, and it will be hard to look outside, plus the balance with the side window is way off. The extra inch in windshield height solved this problem. Bob always liked the oval shaped rear window of the 41-48 Ford mercury’s better than the 40 Merc’s smaller split rear window, so he had hunted down a suitable donor car for the rear window. Brian and Bob then decided the whole rear section of the top of the donor ’46 Ford short door coupe could be used to get the just perfect flow of the rear of the Mercury top.

The trunk was shaved, and a third ’46 Lincoln push button was added. The fenders were welded to the body and the seam nicely finished, but not molded in like on the Matranga Mercury. A set of ’49 Lincoln taillights are mounted low into the rear fenders and the stock gas filler neck was modified with a slightly more modern gas door in the fender. The ’49 Plymouth bumper was dressed up with an ’49 Chevy license plate surround… classic.

Amazing low angle photo taken by Monique Wilson Sache.  Pure beauty!

Just like on the Matranga Merc the B-Pillars were completely removed and some beautifully shaped curved side window frames were created. Later the window frames were chrome plated and the vent windows were modified to work with the new window frames. All exterior handles were shaved of the car, and the door and trunk received 1947 Lincoln push-buttons for a cleaner look. The push buttons are only for looks though, they are not working. To open the doors on Bob’s mercury he came up with something interesting. On the passenger side vent window Bob installed a small key lock that would allow him to lock the car, and open the doors by reaching inside, thru the vent window, and open the door with the interior door crank.

The side trim on the hood was shortened, just like what they did in the 1940’s. The rear fenders were welded to the body, but Bob wanted to have a sharp line from body to fender, so they were not molded in. The stock taillights were removed and a set of 1949 Lincoln taillights was nicely frenched, low, into the rear fenders. Bob found a pair of his favorite Custom Car bumper, the 1949 Plymouth ribbed bumpers, and made them fit his Mercury.

The interior was done in white and green leatherette nicely done in rolls and pleats. The rear bench seat was modified to hinge at the back allowing some extra storage space for Bob’s many road trips. The interior work was done by Casey.

A rear view look showing the beautifully done upholstery and the ’46 Ford oval rear window.

The hood was cleaned up by removing the hood latch and modified it so that it can be opened from inside the car. The rest of the Mercury front details were, just like on Nick Matranga’ Mercury, left unchanged. After a long search Bob had found a pair of un-stampeded Appleton S-112 Spotlights for the Mercury, an other holy grail for any classic Custom. The shells on the Spotlight are all restored, but the rest is still in boxes, waiting for time to get worked on. Bob choose a set of 1941 Ford fender skirts to cover the rear wheel openings.

Apart from the chopped top, all the other custom work was done by Kustom Kolors body shop. The stock Mercury frame was boxed and notched in the rear allowing the car to sit as low as needed. Bob used a Mustang 2 style cross member with factory Ford Mustang 2 suspension and Granada roters. Since the car came without an engine Bob decided to use a 1956 354 Hemi engine for motivation. The engine was completely rebuilt and a rebuilt 700r4 tranny with PAW adapter was added.

With all the drive train and body work done Bob took the car to Sammy Johal’s Body Shop for final prep and paint. Bob had chosen an dark blue-green paint, based on an 1960 Ford color named Emerald Green. But to make the color more personal, the color mix was modified a little. The finished paint looks really fantastic on the car giving it a nice vintage period look. Something that could have come from the Barris Shop back in the early 1950’s.

The headliner was done in white, which makes the interior very light and roomy. The interior handles come from a ’49 Mercury, and the armrest, done in white, chrome strip and green come from a ’53 Chevy. The carpets are done in medium olive green.

The ’53 Ford steering wheel center and the extra gauges added to the center section of the cleaned up dashboard.

The Lincoln door buttons are non functional. To get access to the car Bob installed this unique lock system in the passenger side vent window. There is  small key lock which allows you to open the vent window, so you can reach in and open the door from the inside.

Bob wanted the interior to be all period looking as well. The Dashboard was restored and cleaned up but remained mostly stock with the exception of a row of gauges added to the center section. The stock steering wheel had to make place for an ‘54 Ford steering wheel. Bob wanted some nice details inside, so he got a set of ’49 Mercury interior door handles and ‘53 Chevrolet arm rest. The interior work was done by Casey in white and green in classic styled rolls and pleats. The rear bench was modified so that it could be hinged and work as extra storage space.

The trunk has an electric release with a backup manual pull release. Those ’49 Lincoln taillights fit the car so nicely.

The 1956 354 Hemi engine is completely detailed and painted gold for a nice contrast with the green body.

Engine details.

British Columbia Indian Summer colors work well with Bob’s Mercury.

Full 8 page feature in Chines Car magazine CNAP in 2014.

4 page feature in Rod & Kulture magazine, summer 2015.

Featured in the HAMB Callender.

The Mercury has been on the road since 2007 and since Bob build the car to be used on the road it has seen quite some road since then. Bob and his family have enjoyed the car driving to local, and not so local car events and just cruising around. The car is not only a well known Custom in the Vancouver era. Bob’s Mercury got the interest of several well known car magazine and was featured in then, national as well as International. So now Bob’s Green Merc is well recognized all over the world.

Technical Details

  • 1940 Mercury Coupe
  • Complete body off ground up rebuild
  • Sand blasted inside and out
  • Chopped 4 inches in front and 7 in the rear
  • Windshield top raised about 1 inch
  • Rear roof is from a 46 short door coupe
  • ’49 plymouth bumpers
  • ’47 lincoln door buttons just for show
  • ’49 lincoln tailights
  • ’51 pontiac hubcaps
  • ’53 ford steering wheel
  • Unstamped appleton spotlights buckets rechromed. (The rest of the parts are all there, but need to be finished)
  • ’49 Merc inside door and widow handles
  • ’54 Chevy armrests
  • 5’7 Ford steering column with 41 Ford column drop
  • Stock frame boxed and notched inn the rear
  • Mustang 2 style cross member with factory ford mustang 2 suspention and granada roters
  • 1956 354 Hemi completely rebuilt at time of build
  • Rebuilt 700r4 tranny with PAW adaptor
  • New drive shaft
  • Rebuilt 9inch ford with 3.55 gears
  • Chassis engineering rear leaf spring kit
  • Stock gas tank re-sealed
  • Duel master cylinder with duel Diafram booster
  • G 78 Remington Dunlop bias plys
  • New wiring kit
  • New exhaust 2.5 inches with glass packs
  • New glass new interior new rad
  • Needs spotlights finished and wipers hooked up. (I use rain away)



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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