Home Forums CCC Forum Palle Johansen 1940 Mercury Sedan Custom

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    Rik Hoving

    I will be doing a more in depth post on Palle’s new early 1940’s styled Custom Project as soon as I find some more time. Shared this on Facebook and Instagram this morning…

    Stay tuned….

    Around 13 years ago I did a few versions of a Digital Restyled 1939 Mercury 2 door Sedan Custom Car done as early 1940’s styled Custom Car. I had always loved the really bulbous look of the ’39-40 Mercury Sedans, and wondered why nobody had done one as a full Custom Car.

    Last year my dear friend Palle Johansen and I were talking future Custom Car projects, when Palle mentioned he was seriously thinking about creating a full early style Custom from an 1940 Mercury 2-door Sedan, roughly based on my original design from 2007. with the help of Social Media Palle quickly found a very suitable donor car. A great looking and perfectly driving restored, and mildly customized sedan in the US. The car was shipped to Denmark, and as soon as it was delivered it was made Denmark road worthy and completely approved.

    Next step was to get the car lowered to sit just right, and put some better tires on it so that Palle could take some good photos that would serve as a base for an all new Digital Restyled early Custom. The plan is to created this car as how it could have been done back in 1941, Chopped and restyled period perfect with all the right lines and everything flowing together in that beautiful bulbous teardrop shape, updating it with some ’41 parts.

    It was a real struggle to get the roof to sit just right, get the window openings and door lines to flow just right after the drip rail was removed, and that was only in the Digital File. When Palle started with the metal work it turned out to be a lot harder to get it all right. But⁣ with the help of some window templates made from the design, and a lot of trial and error, stepping back, repositioning, tacking and reshaping it all “fell” in place. Portions of the roof will have to be completely reshaped to be able to get the full length at the back of the car, and get the flow to the door pillars, but in the end this will all be so much worth it.

    The full Digital Restyled design will follow at a later point.


    Original Restyled image from 2007 at the top, and the base photo before the Digital Restyling and chop on the bottom.




    Checking the new lowered roof line with the Digital Restyled image.



    The 1/1 scale side window drawings helped a lot during the chop process.



    The lower portion of the trunk is in the stock position, but the top is laid forward quite a bit to flow with the new roof line. The rear window is chopped to get it better in balance with the other windows. Lots of heavy metal shaping up next.



    Checking the roof profile and side window shapes…. Approved!



    Most of the rear quarter window shape could be created from cutting and piecing back the original frame, but the lower back corner will have to be created from scratch.



    New door frame seen from the outside. The outer portions of the roof will be reshaped to help the flow of the slightly angled inwards of the door pillars.



    The new door opening flows downwards slightly from around the center of the door, and the rear corners are heavily rounded to make it all flow better into the rear quarter windows after the drip rails are shaved. This photo shows the new door frame, and the creation of the new door opening fitting the new door shape. This will then later be welded into the roof/door opening.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Larry Pointer

    Exciting! So glad you and Palle are sharing these steps in the progression to a perfectly enhanced form.

    Bert Gustafsson

    Very exciting, thanks for sharing!


    Thanks for sharing pictures of the really scary part Rik and Palle. A huge undertaking! (I have an understanding of this!)


    Really happy to see this one coming to life.

    Please keep posting updates. I’m staying off of FB for a while.LOL


    Quentin Hall

    That “abstract art” on the wall  in the background is quite….ahhh graphic.
    Yes, when you get to the stage of no return and the roof is a floppy, saggy, mess, you think, “ my god, what have I done?”

    Looks like you were having fun though Rik !!!


    Excited to watch this build!

    Rik Hoving

    Well… lets start at the beginning.


    On June 23, 2019 Palle and I were sending message about 40’s Custom Cars, when Palle wrote this…

    I’m always enjoying the silence one weekend mornings. I went down to the shop early in the morning, and cleaned it for a fresh start. Now I’m back here on the computer with some good coffee, finding myself making a bucketlist of cars I would love to customize.  And one of those cars, high up the list is a ’40 Merc sedan. That is also a car I would love to own… but  I can’t find one.

    I have always LOVED the 1939-40 Mercury sedans, such amazing body lines on those cars. I offered to help him find one using my Social Media network.  Posted it on my Facebook and Instagram and a few responses came in quickly.

    One of them was from Bill Worden, who messaged that his friend Bill Ross,from Yakima, Wa had a very nice 1940 Mercury Sedan that he wanted to sell. Palle contacted Bill who send pictures of his indeed very nice Sedan, and they made a deal, and arrangements were made to get the car to Denmark.





    While waiting for the Mercury to arrive Palle and me collected as much material on the ’39-40 Mercury Customs as we could find to do our research on what we liked and what not. We looked at the few that had been chopped in the past, and how we thought we could improve on those.

    The idea for the car was that a guy bought the car brand new, and started to customize it in 1941, using some of the newest and slightly more upgraded parts. This soon led to the idea of using some parts of an 1941 Cadillac to update, and upgrade the Mercury. Bumpers, hubcaps, hopefully some interior parts, and possibly the color will all come from the Cadillac. Even though we could find some nice photos of 1940 Mercury sedans we decided to wait until the actual car would arrive in Denmark before I would start with the digital restyling.

    Then Palle could find a nice setting and shoot some good dead on side view photos from a few different heights to get the most perfect side view to start the Digital Restyling with.

    When the car arrive Palle was not at all disappointed. The car was absolutely perfect, inside and out. Had been completely restored, frame off, Flathead engine ran strong and it rode fantastic. The perfect start.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    The car was set up with a more Hot Rod forward rake, but that will be an easy fix later on.

    And for the Digital Restyling that would not matter at all. I was going to cut the body and past it into a different background and add more propitiate wide white wall tires to it anyway.

    Before the car had arrived in Denmark we had already discussed several options on how to do the in our eyes perfect chop for this car.

    From previous chopped sedans we knew that the rear of the body would be the most difficult to get right. When the top is dropped, it will need to be dropped more in the back to get the perfect teardrop profile, but this positions the back of the top in front of the most rear part of the rear fenders. Creating a completely new (unwanted) line of the car.

    Illustration #1 illustrates this.



    We then thought about actually extending the whole top, making a cut halfway the doors and extend the whole top a good number of inches so that the rear of the top would still be in about the same location as it is on the stock Mercury, behind the rear fenders. Problem was that extending the top would be extremely hard to do, nearly impossible to hammer weld and the crown of the top would be really hard to get nicely rounded and flowing. But the rear of the top and flow of it all does look stunning in the Digital Version. (Sketch #2)




    And the third option we thought about was to cut the body at the cowl, and move the whole back portion of the body rearwards so that the rear of the top would stay at the stock position, and the cowl would need to be extended accordingly. Major undertaking…. does look ok, but somehow the proportions were not as we had hoped for. (Sketch #4)

    On all versions we also experimented with extended doors and different length for the rear quarter windows.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    In the end we decided that we would keep the A-pillars at the stock location, the door the original length and the roof would need to be extended, but more at the back. Palle looked at a lot of Coupes, Sedans and coachbuild cars that had the lovely teardrop shaped tops created over wooden bucks and figured that would be the way to go on the ’40 Merc Sedan as well. Hopefully being able to use the stock trunk, rear window and as much as the roof, and hand shape most of the sail panels based on the Digital Restyling and wooden bucks.

    The Digital Restyled version that evolved into #15 was approved by both of us, and would be used to create side window patterns, and ones the real car was going to be chopped we would figure out the best way to tackle the rear of the roof.

    Below is Sketch #15 that was approved. I’m sure that some of the details might change over time, The taillights which are stock on the Sketch will be replaced by different units. The Cadillac Hubcaps might be modified, and the color most likely will not be black. But overall this is how the car will look like eventually.




    From this and using measurements taken from the real car I created 1/1 artwork for the new door opening and side window shapes. Palle printed those out on the huge printer they have at work, and templates were made in foam-board.

    When we removed the drip rail for that desirable super smooth Custom feel. it looked like the door line was actually going up towards the rear of the top. The drip rail really helped your eye making the downward flow towards the rear. But without the drip rail line the door opening and rear quarter window lines had nothing to do with each other. Therefor the whole door opening had to be reshaped from about halfway the door. As can be seen in the image below.

    To get the right profile on the car the front was chopped a little less than 2.5 inches, but a lot more was taken out from the back. To maintain the heavy C-pillar feel from the stock height body we decided to shorten the rear quarter windows quite a bit.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Time to start disassemble the car and start cutting…. Well first the whole body was braced to that when the top was removed the sides would remain their shape.







    Here we go…





    The templates helped to figure out where to make some of the cuts.





    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    With all the cuts made it was time to drop the top.

    Palle created a bracing system that allowed him to lower and raise the top, as well as move it back and forth. Perfect to figure out the best flow of the top and especially how the rear of the top could be done.

    Digital Restyling it really wonderful to see the end result and to help as a guide, but working with three dimension is most of the time a whole different story. That said, the window frame patterns were extremely helpful in this stage. To get the top and especially the window shapes in just the right position. And going back and forth looking at the real car and the Digital Design really helped getting it all figured out.




    The photo below shows how much shorter the roof gets when it get chopped and lowered to the right height.





    When dropping the top is also becomes evident that there will be huge gaps to be filled from the main body towards the top, and at this point it looks like the original trunk might need to be narrowed to fit the top…



    With the A-pillars lining up the B-Pillars from the roof section are moved forward. The template comes in handy to show where the new rear quarter window needs to be, and how much it needs to be shortened from the original length.






    The A-pillars will also need some adjusting to match up after the chop as can be seen in this photo.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving



    After removing the metal from the B-pillars it also showed that the pillars would have to be leaned in quite a bit… actually to much in our opinion, so Palle came up with a better idea for that. More on that later.



    Moving around the top to get a feel for how the rear will look like. At this stage Palle had cut out the trunk so that the to steep angle of it would not interfere with the flow of the lowered roof.




    Palle and I spend two long days figuring out how to do the top.



    At one point we put the trunk back in place at a much steeper angle. And started to figure out what was needed to the back of the top to get it to all flow together. A metal strap and heavy duty magnets with some molding clay came in very handy. In the photo below the trunk was laid forward to much.





    Time to get cut the top portion of the B-pillars out.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Tacking the A-Pillars in place, making sure everything is lined up.



    At this stage Palle figure it would be best to get the door frame done first, then get the B-pillar in place



    Time to get the door frame cut in pieces so it can be fitted and shaped into the new opening.



    After a lot of cutting, fitting, checking, holding the template in pace the door window opening finally had the right shape… well almost. The top portion and rear corner still needed to be shaped.



    B-Pillar was next




    All tacked in place and the rear quarter window is starting to take shape as well. Most of the shape could be made using the original frame, but the much sharper lower real corner will have to be hand shaped. Notice how much shorter the rear window is. The lower portion of the rear window still  needs to be moved forward. It moved down just a little bit at the back, and that downwards flow is very important to keep.



    The B-Pillars have also been cut at the bottom so they could be angled in a bit to better line up with the sides of the roof.
    But there still is a gap. Palle will create new roof sides starting at the top of the A-Pillars going all the way to the bottom of the trunk at a later stage…



    This picture shows how much was removed from the top rear section of the door frame. Its not just a rounded corner, the whole rear half of the door frame, and door opening had to be reshaped.



    I place the cut out sail panel in place to get a but better feel of the new roof lines.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

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