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Hirohata Merc Clone Going West




John DAgostino and his Silent partner acquire the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. The story behind the deal as told by John DAgostino.

A few weeks ago we reported in our News Flash article that John D’Agostino and his silent partner had bought the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. We also mentioned that John is planning to travel a lot with the car so that people all over the world can enjoy this great Custom. Which means a lot to a many Custom Car enthusiast around the world, since this clone changed a lot of people when it was first shown by Jack in the 1980’s, long before the original Hirohata mercury was “found” and restored. We asked John to shed a bit of light on how he got Jack Walker to let go of his pride and joy. Lets take a look at the story John send us, accompanied with some of the photos he took.

By John D’Agostino

It all started at the 2016 KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” in Salina, KANSAS on July 27th, 2016. Several weeks before this show, my partner commissioned me to build the Hirohata III recreation. I did not want to make this happen, so I talked to Jack (Walker) at the Leadsled Spectacular show about selling his Mercury with the intentions of me displaying it at car shows around the World. Jack was hesitant at first but I kept on him all weekend for his decision. I also had my partner talk to him about our plans that we may build one. I feel that why build another whereas the Hirohata recreation is probably the most famous Merc ever built and has been shown in 100’s of shows around AMERICA since debuting at the KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” on July 4th, 1985.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-01This is the last photo John took of Jack Walker’s Doug Thompson built Hirothata Mercury clone in Salina, KANSAS, 2016 before his trip to Missouri.

This is without a doubt the BIGGEST Kustom news in a very long time. The news of the Jack Walker “Hirohata” recreation was instantly Worldwide history to Kustom fans everywhere. Now I feel it is time to let the World see the “Hirohata” recreation for the first time starting in 2017. After the deal was sealed after many telephone calls to Jack, my partner (To be disclosed at a later date) drove our rental car to BeltonMissouri to close the deal. The car was purchased on August 28th, 2016.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-02Arriving at Jack Walkers home, shortly before entering Jack’s showroom.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-03Jack showing John around in his “office” with an incredible amount of car memorabilia, of which a lot has to do with either the real Hirohata Mercury, or Jack’s recreation.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-04Handshake confirms the deal….

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-05The paperwork makes it official.

When Jack Walker opened the door to his AMAZING showroom I knew immediately that my childhood dream would come true and the car would now live in the west. The deal was made for a undisclosed amount between us three ONLY. I can still remember seeing the ORIGINAL Barris built Hirohata Merc in many magazines when I was a child. It is definitely my favorite Merc of All time.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-06John D’Agostino sitting for the first time in the Hirohata Mercury clone which he now co-owns.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-14One of the things that set the recreation apart from the original Hirohata Merc is the body color painted dash with no striping, while the original has a white painted dash, with pin-striping by Von Dutch.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-08Jack Walker and the “silent” partner.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-09More handshaking for the historic records.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-10Look at all the cool stuff hanging on Jack Walkers showroom walls.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-11Jack Walker walking around his Hirohata Merc Clone for the last time…

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-12John also took some close ups of the memorabilia on the wall of the Showroom that caught his eye. Singed painting of GeorgeBarris at the Barris shop with the Hirohata Mercury created for the 50th Autorama.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-07Mamie Van Doren signed photo to Jack.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-road-tripAfter the deal was made with Jack in Missouri, John and his partner went back home to California…. ROADTRIP…

After a 4 day trip back to CALIFORNIA we decided to remise and spend the night at the Historic RYDE Hotel in Ryde, CALIFORNIA on the Delta waterways. This hotel is a Art Deco place where many celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable etc… stayed since being built in the mid 1930’s. What a way to end a storybook tale of the “Road to the Hirohata” !

Kustoms Forever, Johnny D’.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-15September 13, 2016, The Doug Thompson/ Jack Walker created Hirohata Mercury clone is getting loaded for the long journey West to John’s home in Discovery Bay, California. Jack Walker (seen on his back) saying good-bye to the car for the last time.

The Mercury will soon arrive at his new home in sunny California.
We will keep you posted about this and John’s plans with the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle.





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)

3 thoughts on “Hirohata Merc Clone Going West

  • Not sure how to really take all this, Its a clone and a substitute to fill a void of 1 persons obsession. Guess its better out of tornado ally.
    I am not sure about the whole ” Take it around the world ”
    For people to see sounds like just another way for some one to make a quick buck and capitalize on people from a country who would maybe think they are seeing the real thing. This seems to me to be more of a way to make money. I understand there is a place for clones in the car world to exist and I do respect the people who have gone to the trouble. One could very quickly end up with a stigma that a lot of people gave Barris and to me that would be sad.
    There was only 1 person who could do something like this that was some what accepted and that was George Barris.

  • As some of us older ones with the traditional custom passion come to the tough decisions in life, it is really heartening to see for Jack Walker, this gut-wrenching decision was tempered by knowing his car now has a good home with passion that matches his own. And if younger people catch the flame and keep it burning because they got to see this car in person, traditional customizing will live on.

    Good on you, Jack. And on John and “silent partner”.

  • Just like the Coke slogan, nothing beats the real thing…but at the same time, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I was amazed that Jack Walker and Doug Thompson went to the lengths they did when cloning the Hirohata Merc and always thought it was a great solution when the original isn’t obtainable. Sad to see Jack let it go, but it will offer a more accessible look at Barris “design”, if you will. I certainly hope it is displayed as a clone or tribute here and abroad…as a nod to the art that rolled out of the Barris Kustoms shop. I think John and his partner will do it justice and introduce a new generation to what a kustom car is all about. Jim McNeil has been pretty active about having the Hirohata out at shows considering its value and historical significance (and that it is irreplaceable), so hopefully we get to see the original and Walker clone side-by-side someday…best of luck to everyone involved 🙂

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