Custom Car Chronicle
Icons of the 80s and 90snews flash

Midnight Sensation back in CA




The Custom Car sensation of the early 1980’s John D’Agostino’s 1951 Mercury Midnight Sensation is back in California. The car will be freshened up and then shared with the public as much as possible.

John D’Agostino’s 1951 Mercury named “Midnight Sensation” was one of the mercury Customs created in the early 1980’s that had a huge impact on the scene. The car was just the perfect combination of early 1950’s styling with then modern influences to make a lot of people get more and more interested in Custom Cars. The perfect styling of the car obviously inspired by the great historic customs like the Hirohata and Bettancourt Mercury’s made the car a big his at the car shows and in the many magazines it was featured.

After being located in Connecticut on the East Coast of the US since the early 1990’s the big Custom Car sensation of the early 1980’s John D’Agostino’s 1951 Mercury “Midnight Sensation” has found its way back to California again. The car’s current caretaker is Rob Fromme, a nephew of John D’Agostino. Rob has loved this car since he was a kid, when his uncle John took him on rides with the Mercury and he saw it at the big shows in California. The previous owner of the Mercury,¬†Frank Mercede from¬†New Canaan, Connecticut, passed away in 2013, and since then the car was being cared for by his family. After reading the Icon’s of the 80’s CCC-Story I did on the Midnight Sensation in 2014, the Mercede family started to look more into the history of the Mercury that Frank had enjoyed so much,¬†to see if the car could be brought back to the original owners. They got in contact with John, and eventually with Rob Fromme finding out about Rob’s biggest wish of owning his childhood dream custom. The Mercede family now knew that Rob would be the perfect new owner for the Mercury.

In October 2015 the car made the trip from Connecticut to California. The Mercury was delivered to¬†Darryl Hollenbeck’s shop, and eagerly waiting for it where Rob Fromme, then new caretaker, and his uncle John D’Agostino, the original owner. Rob shared the photos he took of the car how it was pulled out of the trunk, from the first time they could inspect the car for the first time in decades. After 34 years the Mercury was home again.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-03After a long haul the 1951 Mercury finally see the Californian sun again..


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-04Almost California ground under its “feet” again…


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-09Yep… back home again.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-08The car has fortunately changed very little over the years. Only real obvious changes are the pin-striping. Lets hope those will go to get it back to its early 1980’s specs.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-01Original owner of the Mercury John D’Agostino on the left and the new owner of the car Rob Fromme on the right… Happy guys!


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-07Parked in front of¬†Darryl Hollenbeck’s shop for a better inspection. The light blue 1950 Merc is Dale¬†Hollenbeck’s¬†stunning Mercury.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-02The car sits a bit high in the rear due to not properly working (dated) air shocks. One of the things that will be fixed in the near future.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-06After inspection the car was ready for the drive to Rob’s home in¬†Antioch, California.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-11On the road home…

Even though the Mercury has been taken very good care of over the last decades, it will need some tender love and care and some updates here and there to get it back in shape. Rob plans to¬†share it around as much as he can. Original plan was to have it at the 2016 GNRS to show it alongside the old Richard Zocchi 1950 Mercury “Cool 50”, which was recently completely restored. But it was decided that the car was not in show quality and should first be freshened up. Hopefully we will see plenty of it in the summer of 2016, and the plan is now to have it at the 2017 GNRS with the “Cool 50” and who knows more of the original 1980’s Custom Car Icon Mercury’s? I you want to read more about the history of this Icon of the 1980’s then check out the full CCC-Article.

Rob wants to thank the Mercede Family for their generosity and kind heartedness for allowing his dream car to come back home.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-caThe Mercury in Rob’s home garage… feels good.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-12John D’Agostino with his old ’51 Mercury Midnight Sensation in Rob’s garage.


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-in-ca-10New registration and plates are in… the car is ready for the road…¬†


CCC-midnight-sensation-51-merc-1980s-02Ron Brooks took this photo of the Midnight Sensation in the early 1980’s… stunning.

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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)

5 thoughts on “Midnight Sensation back in CA

  • An inspiring story. Love to read those “coming back home” stories, of cars reunited with their former owners after years apart! What is encouraging is that there are so many of our old customs out there, still in existence. Best old friends.

  • Beautiful Merc…and one that had a very important influence on the kustom world in the last thirty-plus years. Tasteful restyling and one of the best ’51 Merc chops that still has the original rear window…really looking forward to seeing it in person. Thanks for bringing it back to the west coast ūüôā

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