HIROHATA MERC CLONE NEW OWNER
In August 2016 John D Agostino and parter Woodroe Parker buy the Doug Thompson built Hirohata Mercury Clone from original owner Jack Walker. John plans a World-Wide tour for the famous Custom recreation.
On August 30, 2016 John D’Agostino announced BIG news for the Kustom world. He post a photo of a car mounted Barris Crest on his Facebook account. Immediately a buzz starts… What could be this big news? Fortunately for us, John does not keep us waiting very long. The very next Day John announces that he is the new owner of the famous Hirohata Mercury Clone, or recreation. John and his partner Woodroe Parker bought the car from the original owner Jack Walker from Belton, Missouri. John D’Agostino is planning a World-Wide tour with the Hirohata Mercury clone for 2017.
At the time nobody recreated old license plates, so Doug had to take an “generic” 1952 California plate, smooth out the stamped letters and hand hammer the right numbers into it. Fortunately the car only used one plate.
Creating all these modifications on a car is one thing, but recreating the exact same thing based on a few magazine photos is something else. Doug Thompson is an very skilled craftsman, with a perfect eye for proportions.
About the Hirohata Mercury recration
In the early 1980’s Jack Walker spend a lot of time with his good friend and Custom Car builder Doug Thompson. They were working on a project and as usually the discussion was about historic Custom Cars, the Hirohata Mercury to be precise. At the time, not many people knew that the original Barris Kustoms 1951 Mercury for restyled for Bob Hirohata in Los Angeles was still around, and “hidden” in the garage of Jim McNeil. Jim had owned the Mercury since late 1959. Most people thought this famous and trend-setting custom had been lost for ever. Jack really loved the Hirohata Mercury, and when the project him and Doug was finished, and it was time to pick a new project, he asked Doug if he was into building a replica of the Hirohata Mercury.
Doug Thompson did an amazing job on the recreation of this famous Custom, working with basically nothing more that the magazine features from the early 1950’s and a few photos from private collection. Scale drawings were made to figure out how to do all the body changes, and get the proportions right. Especially the extended front fenders were hard to figure out, since this body change was never written about in the old magazines. In 1985 the car was finished, and presented to the public. I have heard stories that everybody stared at the car and stopped what ever they were doing when Jack cruised the car at outdoor cars shows. People were stunned, some thought it was the original, others had already given up the hopes they would ever see the Hirohata Merc in person. And now the recreation enabled people to see the full beauty of the most famous custom cars of all time.
The first time most people saw and read anything about the amazing Hirohata Mercury recreation was in the June 1986 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. Pat Ganahl did and article about Custom Cars, “Is it time to rethink the Custom?”. The article showed a full page of pictures of the amazing custom. The car was an instant HIT, made a huge impact on the scene and inspired many to create news, vintage styled customs. Kudos to builder Doug Thompson and owner Jack Walker.
Doug Thompson has been building many Custom Cars since the 1950’s. This photo shows Doug surrounded with a few of the cars he created in the 1980’s, including the Hirohata Mercury recreation.
In the August 1989 issue of Rod & Custom, Pat Ganahl announces that the original Hirohata Mercury has been “found” and that the car will undergo a full restoration. With the original car restored we were able to compare the two. The recreation by Dough Thomson is amazingly accurate, still there are a few things that will help you tell the real one from the recreation. The most obvious differences are;
- The original Hirohata Merc has sectioned front bumper guards, the Recreation has stock height bumper guards (Bob Hirohata’s Mercury had stock height cards for a very short time, later Barris sectioned them to fit better with the Custom grille)
- The color of the Original Merc is more brilliant and bright, and was matched from actual paint found on the unrestored car. The color of the recreation was based on faded photos and magazine cover images
- The rear bumper has a v-notch cut out to flow around the Lincoln taillights better. The recreation has a stock rear bumper.
We are looking forward to see the Hirohata Mercury recreation pop up all around the world. I think John will be making a lot of custom car fans very happy. People who might otherwise never have the opportunely to see the Hirohata Merc or the second best thing, the recreation in person. I’m very happy for Doug Thomson and Jack Walker as well. More recognition for the amazing effort they did back in 1985.
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