Johnny Hagen 50 Mercury




Johnny Hagen created this Classic restyled padded topped 1950 Mercury as his own personal driver. And as a rolling advertising for his Glendale body shop.

In 2014 we did an article on the quest to find the first chopped 1949-50 Mercury. And even though this quest is about a chopped Coupe body and not really about convertible’s, we did list Bill Gaylord‘s 1949 Mercury convertible in the article. Bill’s Mercury was chopped by George Barris in trade for a padded top of George’s personal 1942-47 Cadillac convertible in 1949, making it one of the very first 1949-50 Mercury’s to be chopped. In late 2015 we did an article on Bill Vernas 1950 Mercury Convertible’s chopped by Carl Johnson. In that article we also showed a photo of Carl Johnson’s personal 1949 Mercury convertible, which was most likely chopped and customized before Carl did the 1950 Merc for Bill Verna. Both also very early chopped Mercury’s.

To chop the top on a 1949-51 Mercury is obviously a far less difficult task as chopping the same year coupe body. These mercury’s did not differ much from the mid 1930’s convertible’s which had been cut down by the body shops for 10+ years already. the only real difficult in them was for the Top Shops who needed to create ultra long padded tops for them. There were basically two different style of padded tops that could be made for these Mercury’s. One with open rear quarter windows, and one with the rear quarter windows closed and the padded top running all the way to the  rear of the doors. And of course there was the variations on the flow of the rear of the top and rear window size and shape.

CCC-bill-gaylord-49-mercury-indoor-showBill Gaylord’s 1949 Mercury with 1949 tag on the license plate has the long smooth flowing top with filled quarter windows.

Bill Gaylord’s Mercury had the full flowing padded top with the rear quarter windows closed, shaped very much like the top shops had done on most of the pre 1948 cars. It appears that the 49-51 Mercury convertibles done a little later, perhaps after some had seen the rather heavy top done by Bill Gaylord on his own personal Mercury, were mostly done differently. Most builders decided that open quarter windows for a long padded top like this might be more elegant and work better with the lines of the Mercury. The car in this article, the Johnny Hagen 1949 Mercury Convertible also has this a little more boxy top with open rear quarter windows.

The Johnny Hagen 1949 Mercury Convertible


Johnny Hagen, owner of a custom shop in Glendale California created this classic looking 1950 Mercury for himself in 1950. According the article in Hop Up magazine from October 1951, Johnny was planning to build this car in stages, and this was just stage one. What he created with this first version was almost as if one of the original designers of the 1950 mercury had requested a factory custom, like a design study. The car is very subtle  all around, which gives the car a really nice classic look and feel. The article states that Johnny was planning on removing the stock taillights and adding them in the rear bumper guards to clean up the rear of the car. And also to update the engine with more speed accessories for ht eFull House treatment. We have no idea if Johnny eventually updated the car or not. The Hop Up magazine article and one single photo in the October 1954 issue of Speed Mechanics is all we have been able to find on Johnny’s 1950 Mercury.

We have very little information about Johnny’s Custom shop in Glendale. We know that he painted Dave Peter’s 1949 Ford restyled by the Valley Custom Shop. But other than that he stayed pretty much off the grid, or at least he was not mentioned much in the magazines.

ccc-rotogravure-hop-up-oct-51-pageJohnny’s 1950 Mercury was featured on a full two page spread in the Hop Up issue, and the best of all is that it was printed with an amazing blue hue Rotogravure print technice. Making this Hop Up feature a double pleasure to look at.

CCC-johnny-hagen-49-mercury-01Padded top removed and rear bench cover installed. Johnny’s 1950 Mercury now becomes a well balanced “two seater”.

Johnny cut the windshield pillars a modest 2 1/2 inch for that subtle factory custom look. The vent windows and side window frames were cut and reshaped accordingly.  The stock headlight rings were molded to the body for a nice frenshed look, the grille surround was molded to the fenders, and so was the splash-pan. The grille was modified with an aftermarket center bar insert. The hood, doors and trunk were all shaved of their handles and emblems for that much desired clean look. The Hop Up article states that Johnny installed a set of 1950 Mercury skirts, but it appears that the skirts were extended down, to fit level with the bottom of the car, for a lower and smoother look. Johnny painted the car in a super glossy dark color. The magazine article does not list the color, so we can only guess… He installed a set of Appleton Spotlights, lowered the car level with a few inches for a moderate lowered stance. And added full size white wall tires and stock 1950 Mercury hubcaps.

CCC-johnny-hagen-49-mercury-02The front end restyling included frenshed headlights, molded grille surround and splash-pan and smoothed hood. The reflections show how smooth the body work and paint are.

CCC-johnny-hagen-49-mercury-03The rear of the Mercury is mostly stock, expect for the shaved trunk. This photo also shows the extended down fender skirts.

The Padded top was created by the American Top Shop in Lynwood, and shows a basic shape similar to the Carson Top Shop tops. (Gaylord padded tops were always more flowing at the back). The shop also created a cover to be installed behind the front seats in case the padded top was off the car. We do not know if the rest of the interior was left stock, or if the same shop also did a full custom interior for Johnny’s Mercury.

CCC-johnny-hagen-49-mercury-04This is the only photo we have been able to find of Johnny’s Mercury with the Padded top up. It gives the car a wonderful classic look.

CCC-installing-spotlights-17-WAnother photo of Johnny’s Mercury from the same Hop Up photo shoot was used in the October 1954 issue of Speed Mechanics special on installing Spotlights. 

Johnny Hagan created a very interesting classic looking 1950 Mercury as his own personal driver. The car has the same feel as some of the custom cars from the early 1940’s. Those cars were mildly restyled and lower than stock, but not as low as the laster samples. It almost feels like Johnny brought back the early 1940’s style back in the early 1940’s on a current model… like a new retro trend. The result is an really stunning looking early chopped 1950 mercury custom. We have no idea what ever happened to this Mercury, if Johnny was able to restyled it further as originally planned, or if it changed hands and was restyled more elsewhere.
If any of the CCC-Readers knows anything more about Johnny’s Mercury, or even about Johnny Hagen and his body shop, please let us know. We would love to hear about it.


(this article is sponsored by)




 6,244 total views,  1 views today

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)

5 thoughts on “Johnny Hagen 50 Mercury

  • March 3, 2016 at 17:40

    Wow, that picture with the top and windows up…perfect example of a chopped Merc convertible. I’d use that to explain a kustom to Martians…

  • March 7, 2016 at 19:38

    Hagen’s body shop was located on Glenoaks Blvd near Grandview Ave.
    in the city of Glendale, California. I have lived in Glendale 57 years so I know of his reputation as a high end paint and body shop. He painted many of the local high school kids rods and customs in the late 50’s and sixties. He was expensive but his quality was outstanding. Unfortunately this merc was before my time.

    • March 7, 2016 at 19:58

      Thank you for this additional information Clay.
      Sounds like it is time Johnny Hagan gets some more write ups here on the CCC.

  • March 11, 2016 at 06:44

    This merc is one of my favorites, it is just so pure Mercury. It is influencing me even more to go to stock frenched headlights for the 2nd version of my car.

Leave a Reply