Custom Car Chronicle
Memo Ortega Files

Memo Ortega Stories Part 26




Memo Has been working on his personal 51 Mercury for many years. In theĀ last couple of weeks Memo was finally able to get all the loose ends taken care ofĀ and apart from having a complete clean up and polish session… Memo’s 1951 Mercury can now be called Finished.

[box_light]Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2015, 80 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of theĀ Memo Ortega StoriesĀ in theĀ Memo Ortega FilesĀ on the CCC[/box_light]

In the Memo Ortega Stories 20 and 21 we have already shared the early stages of Memo’s personal 1951 Mercury project. The car has been almost finished for quite some time. But there were a few things that still needed to be done.Ā The most important and the things that in the end made it to take a while to get done were; new chrome on a lot of the partsĀ and aĀ new rear window. The chrome was a matter of saving money and get the parts done over a period of time Rafael H. Chrome from the Best Polishing and Chrome Shop in Pomona did an really great job on all of the Chrome parts on Memo’s Mercury. Memo has been using Rafael on several projects with great success. Each time when the new chrome came in Memo took his time to instal it on the car. In the meantime memo was keeping busy with other projects for his friends and clients.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-01Freshly plated rear bumper back fromĀ Rafael H. Chrome, looking good.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-02Installing the freshly plated rear bumper.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-03After installing the windshield and stainless it was time to get the Spotlights on. Memo had saved a set of real Appleton Spotlights for his Mercury. Feels good to have the rear thing on this Merc.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-04After struggling with the rear window for a long time, getting new glass, new rubber twice, Memo and a glass guy finally were able to get it to fit. Almost done now.


When the car had been painted and Memo started to put the car back together is came out really nice… and one thing Memo did not like was the way the old 1951 Mercury rear window glass looked. Over time it had been scratched a lot, and during the build process this was not really that noticeable. But it just looked so much out of place on the finished high gloss painted car. So Memo decided to find a replacement rear window. It took him some time to find one and to get it installed right. After many attempts the rear window was finally in place and after that it was really a matter of finishing all the small details. This article shows the first snapshot Memo and his nephew Will took of the finished Mercury parked on the front lawn…. enjoy.

Memo would like to thank his first born grandson Will. Without his help he could not have gotten the merc to this final stage. It was their work collaboration that made the Mercury to what it is today.

CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-05Modifying a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps to fit the Merc’s wheels.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-01Saturday November 21, 2015, first time outside as a nearly completed car. All that is left are some final cleaning and a good polish job. Congratulations Memo.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-02Memo kept the stock 1951 Mercury taillights and even the chrome plated “louvered” panels on the rear quarters, and the both look so great on Memo’s Mercury. Notice how smooth the flush fitted skirts look.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-03The car looks already amazing… but will look even better after a good polishing. reflections show that all the hard work prepping the body really payed off.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-04Memo and Will Ortega with the Mercury on the front lawn.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-07One of those things that are still on the “to-do-but-can-wait-for-now-list” is to have the dash insert all cleaned up and send out to be replated. But for now its just perfect…. And Memo just wants to have this one on the roadĀ and start cruising it.Ā 


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-08Interior in dark blue and white traditional style tuck & roll fits the deep dark blue painted body really well.


CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-09The new scratch free tinted rear window looks really great on the car, and so does the upholstered package shelf.

Go to Part 27 of the Memo Ortega stories.
Go back to Part 25.




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)

11 thoughts on “Memo Ortega Stories Part 26

  • Congratulations on your great looking Merc! You put in all the correct touches and a perfect stance to finish it off!

  • Memo I love it , congratulations .I’m glad you went with the 51 rear window and didn’t shave the side trim. 51 Merc doesn’t have ‘Mercury’ on the rear bumper overider. Would it modified or off a 49 or 50 Merc. ? thanks

  • Beautiful car and a Great job Memo! Here’s to many miles of cruising enjoyment for you and your Merc.

  • thanks all u guys very much means a lot to me, an bob its a 49..50 rear bar, yes i had to cut an narrow it to fit, bob the rear window i would never change it to a 50 rear window its a 51 merc, i know its way easier to go with a 50 window but i wanted ours to be all 51 but thats just me, an rik, thank u for this great story an all the other ones u have done in here for everybody to enjoy them memo,

  • Fantastic looking car Memo, congrats! That chop is just wonderful and the flow with the ’51 rear window is perfect.

  • Memo, great looking traditional merc. I have been following your stories and have enjoyed them all… very much. Hope to meet you someday and thank you in person for your efforts to document some of the early custom years.

    keep the torch lit……Clay

  • Memo, I really like how you kept the flash trim n the bottom 1/4.
    I really like how the blue is so dark it looks black at night.
    For some reason I like really dark kolors on customs so at night they always look black. I always loved the American Graffiti Merc, and how they would cruz at night but the car looked black.
    The interior looks really sweet also…….Hope you get lots of cruzing up and down POMONA past all those old empty car lots….. That are still there …… I bet you can remember what that place still looked like in the 50’s ………!!!

  • thanks to all of u for enjoying the stories, an rik for bringin those little stories for all of u to enjoy im happy to share them with every body while i still can just an other kustom car little guy that likes all fixed up old cars no matter what they drive love em all, kustomland will have a flashback on pomona soon,

  • thanks to all u guys from me an my grandson will an rik for diong this stories on our merc, an all the other storys ,

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