Larry Robbins Barris ’48 Merc NOT found

EARLY BARRIS ’48 MERC NOT FOUND

In June, 2014 we reported that possebly the Barris built 1948 Mercury of Larry Robbins was found in ad on eBay. Kustom Car enthustast Kurt McCormick bought the car, but found out that most likely it is an old custom, but not the Larry Robbins Barris-built Mercury.

My good friend Ulf “Wolf” Christiansson always sends me interesting cars he comes across on eBay. The latest one he send me made my heart stop for a moment. The eBay ad read:1948 MERC BUILT BY GEORGE BARRIS.

(Update June 23, 2014) Since this article has been posted the Ebay auction was ended and the car was sold. The car was bought by the real Custom Car enthusiasts, Kurt McCormick, who plans the return the car into the wonderful Barris restyled version. We hope we can share some updates here on the CCC about progress on the Street Rod dismantling and rebuilding into the 1948 Mercury the Barris Shop created in the early 1950’s.

 

(Update August 27, 2014) Kurt McCormick left us a note about the car. Sadly it turned out not to be the Barris Larry Robbins ’48 Mercury after all. Here is Kurt’s Message:
After two months of ownership, here is what i’ve found so far about this car: It is not the Larry Robbins Merc by Barris, it is not any car I know of by Barris and it’s not even a Merc, it’s a Ford. There are several indicators that suggest it is an early car. In addition to the period chop, it has molded rear fenders, all four deck corners are rounded and the car had twin spotlights at one time. The chop is gas-welded and the seams are hammered. if the spare grill, hood and fenders that came with the car are origional to the vehicle, then it is almost certainly an early custom, but i have no idea which one. An old sled like this would typically get some ink over the years, but this one does not look familiar. the chop is excellent inside and out, done by a real craftsman. How did this car get past us? If I cannot identify it or find out it’s story, I will re-do it to suit myself and enjoy it. It is very comfortable and roadworthy. I’ll let you know what else turns up, talk to you soon.

Best regards, Kustom Kurt

Here are three photos taken in August 2014, when Kurt McCormick was the new owner. The photos were taken by David Myers.
If anybody recognizes this car with this ’48 Ford grille, or with a 1949 Cadillac grille, please let us know. Now it turned out NOT to be the Barris-built Larry Robbins Merc, we and Kurt, would love to know its real history.

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Below is the original message as we shared it on June 21, 2014. Sadly it turned out to be false information.
Well we all have seen so many cars being offered claimed to be original Barris Customs… So at first I did not pay to much attention this this. The ‘1948 Mercury with a Ford grille on an ugly stance made me just wonder why somebody would take the time to chop the top so beautifully as an early Custom Car and then finish it of as a street rod. Then slowly I realized that perhaps this could be an old custom, and somebody thought it would look better on a rake and with modern wheels and other components. Then I started reading the text and came across the name of Larry Robbins as the original owner… !

In the past I had done some research on this car and found besides a few in progress photos in the Barris Books also one photo of this beautiful restyled custom in the April 1950 Motor Trend magazine. I did a short CCC-Article on the car. I compared the photos… and it sure looks like this is the same car.

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CCC_LarryRobbins_MT_April-50-wFrom the Motor Trend article.
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CCC-larry-robbins-48-merc-09-wThe eBay ad for the Larry Robbins Barris Mercury.
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Amazing.. another early Barris Custom, one I had never before seen as a finished car was still alive, and in rather good condition. Or at least in a condition it can be brought back to life again as how it was originally intended.
Here is the text that came with the ad on eBay

This is a car my buddy had. It was built for Larry Robbins of Beverly Hills California back in the early days of barris customs first cars. ( You can see this car and George Barris working on it, chopping the top, and fitting the 49 caddy grille to it on the internet, just punch george barris chopped 48 merc coupe. )
It was a 1948 Merc and still is, but my buddy didn’t like the 49 Caddy grill, so he put a mint 48 Ford front end on it. I told him to keep it original, but he did it anyway. I have the compleet merc front end including the fenders, hood, and the mint 49 Baddy grille, they go with the car. He also had the title changed to a 48 Ford. (Some pictures of the front merc fenders, and caddy grill are included, i have the hood also, and its perfect.)

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CCC-larry-robbins-48-merc-03-wThe original Barris modified front fender and 1949 Cadillac grille are still with the car and part of the deal.
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CCC-larry-robbins-48-merc-10-wI did this quick Photoshopped image back dating the car to a more Barris Kustoms look. The original version had different bumpers, but you get the idea. What a change does a nice set of wheels and the right stance make to this car.
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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)

10 thoughts on “Larry Robbins Barris ’48 Merc NOT found

  • June 22, 2014 at 07:55
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    Great that this car is still around but what a shame that it is a complete streetrod. How can people think this looks good on a chopped early ford ? I know everyone has different tastes but come on.

  • June 22, 2014 at 18:37
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    For the asking price of this car plus the money it would take to bring it back to what it was…… not sure if it would be worth buying. I dont understand how the seller could advertise it as a Barris custom when it is a debacle from a custom standpoint. The guy wants to use its history for leverage but the car looks nothing like a custom besides the roof. Just a shame where some of these early cars end up. If you want a muscle car then you should buy one.

  • June 23, 2014 at 08:43
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    I love your photoshop, Rik, and hopefully it will inspire someone to grab it and bring this car back. However, I agree with Jeff that the budget would be have to be pretty big to buy it and bring it back to Barris status. It’s obviously clipped and now has a shortened wheelbase to fir the Ford front fenders and hood, but a stock Merc frame should slip right under it. That is a fantastic chop…

  • June 23, 2014 at 09:24
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    Well the car has been sold… Hopefully to a Custom Car Enthusiast. Time will tell. I asked the seller to bring me in contact with the buyer. If I find out more I will share it on the CCC.

    Rik

  • July 1, 2014 at 23:28
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    Very cool as a custom, very strange as a street rod.

    STREET RODDERS SHOULD NEVER GO NEAR A CUSTOM THEY HAVE NO CLUE.

  • August 27, 2014 at 05:57
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    HI, RIK–
    AFTER TWO MONTHS OF OWNERSHIP, HERE IS WHAT I’VE FOUND SO FAR ABOUT THIS CAR: IT IS NOT THE LARRY ROBBINS MERC BY BARRIS, IT IS NOT ANY CAR I KNOW OF BY BARRIS AND IT’S NOT EVEN A MERC, IT’S A FORD.
    THERE ARE SEVERAL INDICATORS THAT SUGGEST IT IS AN EARLY CAR. IN ADDITION TO THE PERIOD CHOP, IT HAS MOLDED REAR FENDERS, ALL FOUR DECK CORNERS ARE ROUNDED AND THE CAR HAD TWIN SPOTLIGHTS AT ONE TIME. THE CHOP IS GAS-WELDED AND THE SEAMS ARE HAMMERED.
    IF THE SPARE GRILL, HOOD AND FENDERS THAT CAME WITH THE CAR ARE ORIGIONAL TO THE VEHICLE, THEN IT IS ALMOST CERTAINLY AN EARLY CUSTOM, BUT I HAVE NO IDEA WHICH ONE. AN OLD SLED LIKE THIS WOULD TYPICALLY GET SOME INK OVER THE YEARS, BUT THIS ONE DOES NOT LOOK FAMILIAR. THE CHOP IS EXCELLENT INSIDE AND OUT, DONE BY A REAL CRAFTSMAN. HOW DID THIS CAR GET PAST US?
    IF I CANNOT IDENTIFY IT OR FIND OUT IT’S STORY, I WILL RE-DO IT TO SUIT MYSELF AND ENJOY IT. IT IS VERY COMFORTABLE AND ROADWORTHY.
    I’LL LET YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE TURNS UP, TALK TO YOU SOON.
    BEST REGARDS, KUSTOM KURT

  • August 27, 2014 at 22:17
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    It’s interesting that the horizontal crease has been removed from the rear fender and not the front. It may be a clue as to the history of the car. The pictures of the ‘Merc’ fenders don’t show whether the crease has been removed or not. If it has it would suggest they probably are original to the car. Kurt keep us posted.

    • August 28, 2014 at 07:02
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      HI, BOB–
      GOOD EYE, IT IS EXACTLY AS YOU SAY–THE SPARE FRONT FENDERS, WHICH ARE FORD, NOT MERC, DO HAVE THE HORIZONTAL CREASES POUNDED OUT, NO FILLER. SO YOU ARE RIGHT, IT IS VERY LIKELY THAT THEY ARE PART OF THIS CAR’S ORIGIONAL RESTYLE. YOU HAVE BEEN DOING YOUR HOMEWORK, WELL DONE. MORE NEWS AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.
      BEST REGARDS, KUSTOM KURT

  • September 4, 2014 at 02:04
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    Not the real thing, but still a very cool custom that needs new wheels, new WWW and drag the tail, Now, lets go cursing……………………..

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