Road Trip Custom Sightings

 

ROAD TRIP CUSTOM SIGHTINGS

 

David Conrad shared some neat pictures he took in the 60s and 70s. Interesting and sometimes abandoned Custom Cars he came across while on the road.



In July 2018 I shared a photo of an early 1940’s restyled 1940 Mercury ones owned by the mr. Williams and later owned by Marsh Baldwin. I was wondering what had happened to the restoration on the care when David Conrad shared a few photos of some old 60’s and 70’s road trips with including one of an Mercury that looked a bit similar. The picture David shared, of a greene padded topped Mercury at a car lot in San Diego in 1963, had a very similar very heavy chop, but it looked to be a ’39 and not the ’40 I was looking for. But the photo was very interesting, and the ’39 Mercury looked vaguely familiar, reminding me a bit at the James Etter ’39 Mercury restored in the late  1970’s, early 1980’s by Karl Jonasson. But I did not pay much attention to that at the time.

When David shared the photos he mentioned that he took some photos back in 1963 when he and a friend towed David’s 31 Model A pickup to San Diego to the Model A Restorers Club national meet. On the way they stopped at several locations and David took some photos of interesting cars he saw on their way.

David saw this 1940 Mercury with some Ayala Inspiration at the Easy Jack’s junk yard in Kansas in 1963. He always wondered what happened to it. Anybody knows?
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The rear shows an interesting Panoramic rear window treatment on the chopped canvas covered top, as well as ’48-49 Cadillac rear fenders molded into the body. I wonder if the car was ever finished and on the road, or if it was an abandoned project?
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David took this ’40 Ford convertible in the early 70s in a friends back yard. He has no idea what ever happened to it. This is in St Louis, mo.
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It appears to be an channeled ’40 Ford convertible with a much molded body that was done in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s. Perhaps it evolved over the years.
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In November 2018, the photo David had shared of the 1963 San Diego was shared again on Facebook. Anthony White made a comment on it. “Tried to make a case for it being the James Etter car but that‚Äôs a long stretch”. Anthony’s comment brought me back to the original thought I had when looking at that picture, and I started to look into it a bit more. I had recently discussed the Etter Mercury with Henrik Forss, and things look like they are falling into place, and the car in the picture David took might be the Jim Etter Mercury. David mentioned this about the Green Mercury photo. “I saw this Merc. on a used car lot in 1963 in San Diego. It had real heavy green metalflake paint on it. Paint was very thick.”

David took this very neat picture of a green metalflake ’39 Mercury at an unknown used car lot in San Diego in 1963.
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In an old Swedish Wheels Magazine article on the ’39 Mercury that Karl restored it was mentioned that the car had a green metalflake paint job under the primer. It also showed that the rear had a ’41 Ford bumper mounted. When David took the photo in 1963, it looks like the Mercury had ’41 Ford bumpers and it also looks like the running boards were shortened, just as the Jim Etter Mercury has. We are now trying to see if we can get a better scan, or info from David if he can see on the original slide if the hood has the characteristic scoop on the side, and the louver’s cut in the hood. All other details on the San Diego Mercury seem to match with the Jim Etter Mercury…

The original scan from the color slide David shared is not very big, therefor the details are rather blurry. This is the best I could do blowing up the image to have a better look at the car. It does appear to have the hood side scoop… but because the scan is so blurry, that could be just shadow and an optical illusion.
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This is how the car looked that Karl got to restore in the late 1970’s. Notice all the similarities with the Green one David photographed.
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Part if the Wheels Magazine article showing some more details, including the ’41 Ford rear bumper.
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This is how most people will recognize the James Etter 1939 Mercury from the 1980’s. The heavy chop, the shortened running boards, and molded in headlights. Karl added the exhausts behind the running boards and the ’49 Plymouth bumper. The Barris Crest on the front fender is an replica added after Karl restored the car.
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To be continued…..










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Gardena Ca Mystery Merc

 

GARDENA CA MYSTERY MERC

 

This great looking 1939 Mercury Convertible with 1939 Buick Grille and Chopped padded top was built in 1947. Who owned it, and where is it now?



Don Schumacher¬†from Long Beach California send me a few photos of an very interesting ’39 Mercury in November 2016. He mentioned that the photos were some scans he made of snapshots from the family album. And that this car was photographed at his father’s, Walt Schumacher’s Body Shop In Gardena California. One of the photos had some more info written on the back;¬†Chopped ’39 Mercury, ’39 Buick grill 1947.¬†He had posted the images on his Instagram before he shared them with me, and there somebody had suggested that it might possibly be an early version of the Jimmy Summers Mercury. He was wondering if I could help him figuring out any of the cars history and if it was indeed the Jimmy Summers Mercury before Jimmy channeled the car.

Even though the photo was taken at Walt Schumacher’s¬†shop, Don did not know anything about it, and he was pretty sure the Mercury was a customs car, not his fathers personal Custom. Don was into all kinds of things, but not in this type of old cars, and never asked his father about the time he had his Body Shop in Gardena. He never asked him about the car he built, or this ’39 Mercury in particular…¬†Don mentioned “Its not until people are gone that you wish you had asked more questions about their life.” So this ’39 Mercury in the family scrapbook is another great looking¬†Mystery Custom.

ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-03-newThe front 3/4 view shows how nice the ’39 Buick grille was fitted to the smoothed ’39 Mercury front end. A lot of work went into this, reshaping the spotlight¬†metal.
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ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-01-newThis photo taken a little further away gives us a good look at how well proportioned and restyled this car was. Created most likely by Don Shumacher’s father in his Body shop in Gardena California. The car appears to be freshly done, and about ready for paint.
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When Don asked me if this could perhaps be the¬†Jimmy Summers Mercury, as he was told it might be, I was able to give him a firm NO very quick. The car in these photos is an ’39 Mercury with no vent window’s, while the Jimmy Summers Mercury is an ’40 Mercury. Also the chop in the windshield appears to be more on the Gardena Mercury, than on Jimmy’s Mercury. Plus the rear fenders are molded in on the Gardena Mercury, while those on Jimmy Summer’s Mercury are still separate units after the body was channeled over the frame and the fenders raised up into the body. And then there was the note on the back of one of the photos stating the photo was taken in 1947. Jimmy’s Mercury was finished in it first maroon color, all channeled and with the home made grille in 1946. So these photos are not of an early version of the the Jimmy Summers Mercury.

But what is the story about this really nicely done ’39 Mercury? Who owned it? was it Don’s father’s personal car, or did he built it for a customer? And what ever happened to the car. I do not think I have ever seen another photo of this Mercury before, or at least not from the front. I have never seen an 40’s built ’39-40 Mercury that had a ’39 Buick grille installed this way.


ccc-gardena-ca-mystery-merc-02-newThe fact that there is a photo taken of the ’39 Buick grille in the ’39 Merc indicates that the builder was very proud of his work. And judging the photos we can say he can be very proud about it. The grille installment looks really well done and suits the car really good.
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The Mercury appears to have been very nicely restyled by a professional body shop. Especially the addition of the Buick grille and the way it was used was done by a skilled body man who also had a great eye. The two half of the Buick grille are separated by mild v-shaped center piece on a stock ’39 Buick, but they are butted together on this Mercury. And the surrounding metal of the hood and front fenders have been expertly modified to make the Buick grille look right at home. The hood has been shaved and the belt line trim has been removed completely, but the door handles are still in place. ’40 Mercury or Ford headlights replace the plain ’39 model headlights.

The windshield frame has been chopped, quite heavy. The low padded top looks to have a very nice flowing back portion. The rear fenders have been molded to the body, and possibly the fronts as well, but that we cannot see in the photos. A set of ’37 DeSoto ribbed bumpers replace the stock units and a set of teardrop skirts are used on the rear fenders. The car rolls on black wall tires wit single bar flipper hubcaps and beauty rings.

Has anybody ever seen or heard about this Gardena California based ’39 Mercury? Perhaps knows who owned in back in 1947, or knows what ever happened to it. If so, please let us know. We would love to solve the mysteries around this great looking mid early Custom Merc.



Updated November 18, 2016



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After we had created this article Don was all excited and went back to the family album to see if he could find some more photos that could help with the search on this Mercury. Sadly no other photos of the Mercury were found, but he did find a few other photos that we thought would be interesting to add to this article. Don was also able to rescan the Mercury photos a bit larger, so now the used scans are larger, and more crisp.
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Picking up a 40 Ford

Don send me a photo of his father with a 1940 Ford¬†Coupe he bought brand new in 1940 in Detroit.¬†They drove to Detroit¬†in his friends ’39 Ford to pickup his ’40 Ford. Don thinks that maybe his father saved transportation charges that way, he¬†was told he got it much cheaper that way, than when he would have bought it in California. They must’ve been flying to average 60 mph on those roads and going through towns before there was an interstate.


ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-00The photo album also contained this¬†newspaper clipping in which Don’s father was mentioned for his speedy traveling from California to Detroit.¬†
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ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-01Walt Schumacher with his new 1940 Ford Coupe.
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The wrecked 46 Ford

Don also send me a series of photos of a 1946 Ford four door Sedan that his father rebuilt. The black ’40 deluxe coupe Walt¬†had bought new had become impractical with the family growing. ¬†So in late 1947 he bought a totaled rollover ’46 Ford four door. The pictures below are of the day he brought it home and looks like he was accusing what he had bought. Don mentioned it looked pretty scary to him, when he saw those photos again! Don thinks by then, late 1947, his father¬†may have given up his shop, since all these photos of him¬†fixing¬†this car where taken¬†at their home garage. The car¬†got a new rear door, but all the other damage¬†was repaired including the roof. That is amazing to me.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-01Walt Schumacher with the ’46 Ford wrecked Sedan he had just bought.¬†
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-02The car was a roll-over and the top was completely dented on both sides. And by the look of the doors the whole body was shifted as well.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-04During the roll over the rear passenger side door must have opened and bended in the wrong way.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-07Walt starting the process of restoring the wrecked sedan. Here he removed the badly damaged door. He decided that was the only part he could best replace with a new (second hand) door. All the rest of the damage was repaired by Walt.
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The last two pictures were taken¬†in Clovis California . Apparently they took a vacation to see Don’s¬†mothers sister. The car is still in primer in these last two photos. When Walt had finished the car later,¬†all the side moldings were removed, it was nosed and decked and the license was frenched in to the trunk lid and covered with glass. Walt painted the car¬†shiny black and mounted a set of¬†whitewall tires and full wheel covers. It was the family car into the late 1950’s when Don remembers his¬†sister took it over and would cruise the Clock, and Jerry’ bbq in Compton Ca.

ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-05All the body work was done at this point and the car could be driven again. During the repair work on the main body the stainless trim was removed, and the holes filled. Later the hood trim would also be removed.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1946-ford-06This is the last photo Don could find of the Ford. The family album sadly did not contain any photos of the finished sedan.
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A friends Roadster

Don also came across two photos of an¬†Hot Rod roadster from 1947. Don also has no idea who’s car this is. It looks to be a channeled model A with ’32 Ford grille and welded trunk. Interesting is the set in license plate, and V-windshield from a late 30’s, perhaps early 40’s coupe or sedan. Don thinks the car might have belonged to a friend of his father.

ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-01For some reason both Hot Rod photos are in bad condition… but at the same time that makes them perhaps even more¬†interesting as well.
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ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-02Cropped section of the photo gives us a bit better look at the Hot Rod. Anybody ever seen this elsewhere?
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ccc-gardena-ca-roadster-04Chevy taillights mounted just above the exhaust tip. In the center is a recessed license plate behind glass. A real Custom Trick, but it was used on some Hot Rods as well.
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ccc-gardena-ca-1940-ford-02Here is a photo of Don’s father¬†Walt standing in the doorway of the shop probably same day as the Merc photos in 1947.
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Historic Customs USA Road Trip P3

 

HISTORIC CUSTOMS USA Road Trip Part 3

 

By Ronnie Lindblom & Micke Hedberg.

With most of the problems on the cars now sorted Ronnie and Micke are ready to get the grand tour at Gene Winfields Shop, and prepare for the rest of their amazing trip.



In early July 2016 Ronnie Lindblom and Micke Hedberg left Sweden for their dream road trip in the USA. Both guys had bought an historic custom in the month prior to this trip, and along the way the idea had grown to fix up their cars and make a road trip of a life-time.¬†After 11 long days and nights working on their cars, they finally had them ready to hit the road. You can read about the first 11 days of their journey in Part One¬†and the first time on the road for the cars in Part Two of this series. The guys ¬†worked till late into the night to get Ronnie’s Mercury fixed. They left Ronnie’s ’39 Mercury at Gene’s¬†shop and took Micke’s¬†’36 Ford to drive up to the nearest Motel to get a few hours of sleep. Early the next morning they head back to¬†spend some more¬†quality time with Gene Winshield at his Mojave Desert shop.

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-01After sleeping a few hours at the nearest motel the guys drove¬†back to the Winfield shop with Ronnie’ s ’36 Ford¬†early in the morning.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-02New day, new challenges. The Merc was fixed late last night and now Ronnie is almost ready for a test drive.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-03Ronnie only has to¬†refill the water and check oil…
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-04The test drive went fine, and it¬īs time to re torque the heads. There¬†was nothing they could do about the crack in the head. So, they did all other things¬†they could do and hope¬†the engine will last¬†the rest of the trip.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-05The both cars are now ready for the rest of the journey. Micke, Ronnie and Mr. Winfield give the thumb up for the rest of the trip!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-06Gene is 89 years old and still works on custom cars everyday. It¬īs really impressive to see a legend work and still enjoy it all like it was his firs day at the job. That¬īs amazing! When¬†the Swedes were¬†at Winfield’s, Gene was worked on a channeled ¬≠’40 Ford convertible.¬†
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-09Then it was time to take a tour around the shop and inside Gene own little museum. Here Gene shows the unique bed he made from a model-A Ford pickup.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-10Gene sharing memories and stories from dry lake races in the early days while showing the guys old pictures on the walls.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-collageClose up of the early dry lake collage.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-11One of Gene’s old wood shop signs with his famous logo.¬†Gene hold on to it¬†all these years, and now it’s hanging proudly¬†in his nice little private museum.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-12The “Thing”, a¬†’27 model T racer Gene built¬†in the late 1940’s.¬† Well the original is long gone, and this one is an¬†updated copy of the real ‚ÄĚThing‚ÄĚ. Gene told Micke and Ronnie lots of great stories from back in the day¬īs, It was a blast!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-07Micke had parked his¬†¬ī36 Ford in the shadow inside the shop¬†to cool down.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-08Micke started his 36 Ford, and everything was still working fine, so they are all ready to go.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-13But before its time to go, they took Gene for a ride in the ¬ī36 Ford.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-14here we go…
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-15Can you imagine how many memories this brought back for Gene… and created¬†for Micke.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-16And of course Gene now also had to¬†get a ride in Ronnie’s Merc as well!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-17Cruising like it was the early 1940’s…
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-18And more memories brought back, and created.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-19Then it was almost time to say goodbye to Gene, a few last photos with the cars and the shop in the background….
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-24Before the guys left Gene drew a map showing how to best get to El Mirage dry lake and to a couple of friends which Gene thought visiting would be very well worth it. 
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-20And on the way to Palmdale, the first stop
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Not long after they had left¬†Winfield’s¬†Ronnie’s Mercury started to get problems again. The engine started to run really crappy and they had to stop. After they had stopped and let the engine cool a bit¬†the engine refused to start again. The guys checked all possible reasons for the engine failure.¬†Condenser, pionts, distributor cap and several more things,¬†but nothing helped to get the engine to start. Finally Ronnie found out that the distributor was flash-over to ground and he was able to¬†fix the problem. Pfff, it was a hot day out in the middle of the desert!… but they were on their way again.


CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-21Finally the guys arrived at the first stop Gene suggested. Dave McCain, one of the worlds fastest Flathead Ford drag-racers.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-22Dave showed the guys around in his shop and they talked about Flathead tune up all night long.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-25This was the first night without working on the cars since they had arrived in the US. It felt like vacation, just having a good time and making plans for the trip to El Mirage tomorrow.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p3-23The cars early the next morning… all ready and excited for the drive up to the Dry lake.
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Go back to Part 1, Part 2. Or go to Part 4
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CCC-Sponsor-KingKustomsTShirt-602Contact Rob Radcliffe at King Kustoms for more info on these T-Shirts Email Rob

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Historic Customs USA Road Trip P2

 

HISTORIC CUSTOMS USA Road Trip Part 2

 

By Ronnie Lindblom & Micke Hedberg.

After 11 days of hard work Ronnie and Micke got their Historic Customs on the road and ready to go.

In early July 2016 Ronnie Lindblom and Micke Hedberg left Sweden for their dream road trip in the USA. Both guys had bought an historic custom in the month prior to this trip, and along the way the idea had grown to fix up their cars and make a road trip of a life-time. After 11 long days and nights working on their cars, they finally had them ready to hit the road. You can read about the first 11 days of their journey in Part One of this series.

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-00Tuesday afternoon and ready to take off from Squeaks place.
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With the cars now finished, all the tools, supplies and others things needed for the trip was loaded into the trunks of the cars. They said goodbye to everybody who had helped them in Bakersfield and they were ready to hit the road. Yeah!


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The¬†next, exciting phase of their trip was to drive the cars to Gene Winfield’s shop in the Mojave¬†desert. This¬†less than 100 mile trip from Bakersfield, to Gene’s place was going to be a smooth test-drive, so they thought.¬†They planned it would take them around two hours that Tuesday afternoon¬†to get to Gene. Perhaps a little more to take some nice pictures along the way…

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-01Both cars had their trunks filled to the top with tools, spareparts and water. This made it a little tricky to fill gas!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-17Bakersfield, California.¬†Ronnie is driving his ’39 Merc and snaps a picture of¬†Micke¬†in his ’36 Ford across the street.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-03 With the cars on the highway for the first time. Exciting and it feeeels good!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-16What not the guys had realized¬†was the steep mountain-pass right outside Bakersfield.¬†Afterwards they remember¬†Squeak telling them all about this, but who had time to listen to these “small”¬†details when they¬†were too excited and focused to get¬†the cars ready to¬†drive? It was really going uphill here, and both cars were really struggling.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-04Half an hour from Bakersfield the temp gauges were hitting¬†maximum. Pretty soon Micke¬īs radiator started to steam and the¬†winshield started to fog when the steam came thru the louvered hood. It was definitly time for the first stop. Both cars was boiling.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-05The cars had to cool down a bit and it was time for the radiators to get¬†filled with fresh¬†water. It could have happened on a worse place though. While waiting Micke and Ronnie enjoyed the view, and probably dreamt of making this drive in the early 1950’s
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When the cars had cooled down enough they took off, desperately in need of flat roads or even better downhill… But¬†the only way to find a downhill was to look in the rearmirror, so not before long the cars got hot again. While the cars were cooling down again Micke was trying to get some work done on the car, perhaps to solve a bit of the cooling problem. After a while he started the ’36 and it sounded really crappy.

At first they thought the floatlevel was wrong as the hill was so steep, but adjusting it did¬†not¬†make the old flatty run any better. After some contemplating¬†they figured out it¬†must¬†be¬†the condenser… mmm could be worse, they had brought an¬†old spare condenser. They packed it in the trunk… but which trunk?! and where?? Finally they found the spare¬†condenser and while¬†Micke was installing it he lost a¬†screw in the gravel.. Great! Eventually they found another screw they could use and fix this problem.

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-20The steep hills and the over 100 degrees temperatures was brutal, and too much for the cars.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-14¬† While working on Micke’s¬†36 and waiting for both cars to cool down,¬†3 modern cars also had to stop at¬†the same hill because of overheating.¬†
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-02To drive those historical customs on those old roads is an adventure, but to do it without gps and with partly hand-drawn map is something else!¬†It really took them¬†back in the days. Here¬īs the guys sitting in a crossroad trying to figure out the right way to Mr Winfield.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-11Sometimes you have to drive miles and miles to find a roadsign out there… This was¬†‚Ästas they¬†found out later¬†‚Ästthe wrong way!
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Arriving at Gene Winfield

Even after the guys had left the steep mountain pass behind them the Merc maintain to have overheating problems. After many stops with boiling engine and some minor problem to find the right road it was a real relieve when they finally saw Gene’s huge shop space in the distance. They arrived at Gene Winfields shop shortly before it started to get dark. Gene knew the guys were coming as Squeak had called him 5 hours earlier and told him they had just left Bakersfield. So he was getting a bit worried about the guys.

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-21Gene’s place… they finally made it.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-22The gate was open and they drove right up to the shop area. Excited to meet Gene, and also knowing they could hopefully figure out the engine problems and solve it for the remainder of the trip.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-27It was a long hot day… finally parked at goal¬†number one… Gene Winfield’s shop.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-23Where the hell have you been guy¬īs“, was¬†Gene first response.
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Micke and Ronnie talked to Gene about the trip, and how they had spend the last 11 days in Squeaks shop. Then told him the trip from Bakersfield had taken so long due to the heating problems.
The guys hoped for a blown headgasket, they had already tried to get a pair at a local car supplies along the road, but most of the stores had sold their last flathead parts 50 years ago.


Gene told the guys that he might have a pair that was ment for a -49 merc project he had in the shop, Gene went into the shop and searched for the new pair of head-gaskets while Micke and Ronnie drained the water and prepared for pulling the heads off the engine.


CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-28By now the un was set, and it was time to get to work on the Mercury, to see if the problems could be fixed.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-25The guys and Gene working together on the Merc. What can be better than becoming friends this way? Its intresting how a big problem and frustrating work can result in such a great time.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-29Micky cleaning one of the heads.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p2-26Sadly the old head gaskets looked good, but under the right head of Ronnie’s ’39 Merc engine the guys found the reason of overheating. Big cracks between cylinder and valves in two cylinders. They only had one spare engine, and that was already mounted in Micke’s ’36… there was no other choise than to put the heads back on and hope that the engine would make the trip till the end! And so they did… and then finally it was time to get some sleep. [divider]



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Go back to Part One or ahead to Part Three of the Historic Customs USA Road-Trip.



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Historic Customs USA Road Trip P1

 

HISTORIC CUSTOMS USA Road Trip Part 1

 

How to get two historic stalled Custom Cars back on the road and make a once in a life-time Road Trip.

By Ronnie Lindblom & Micke Hedberg.

In early July 2016 Ronnie Lindblom and Micke Hedberg left Sweden for their dream road-trip in the USA. Both guys had bought an historic custom in the year prior to this trip, and along the way the idea had grown to fix up their cars in the US, and make a road-trip of a life-time before shipping their cars to Sweden. Ronnie had bought his early 1940¬īs restyled 1939 Mercury chopped padded topped convertible in the summer 2015 from Kevan Sledge, and Micke bought his 1936 Ford 5-window coupe in November 2015.

The Mercury had been for sale previous at the LA Roadster Show (LARS). At this show an older gentle man had pointed out that he was very familiar with the car. But at the time the man was not properly interviewed and no contact info was written down. This all lead for Ronnie and Micke to make the 2016 LARS their prime goal… who knows, perhaps the older gentleman would make an appearance this year again. Micke’s 36 Ford has a Long Beach history, so he was also hoping to find out more about who had originally performed all the well done body work on his Coupe.

 

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-map-01Plane trip from Sweden the US on June 2, 2016.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-map-02Blue trip with Squeek’s pick up and Ronnie’s ’39 Merc on the trailer to Bakersfield (blue pin). After 160 hours in 11 days and half a day to clean up the mess the first trip to Gene Winfield in the Mohave desert. (Green pin) Next stop is El Mirage (Orange pin), and then to the LA Roadster Show (Red pin).
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-01Both Ronnie and Micke had started¬†collecting parts from the moment¬†they bought their cars. Some were delivered in the US, others had to be brought from Sweden. Three suitcases full of car parts, hand-luggage¬†with a few clthes and two hats… All they need.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-02Ronnie and Micke took a taxi from the SF airport to the upholstery shop in San Francisco that had done the interior for Ronnie‚Äôs Mercury and stored the car until now. They met Squeek at the shop, who was there¬†with a trailer to pick up the guys and the¬†Merc. On the way up Squeek he also had picked up some parts for the Merc and a spare engine for Micke‚Äôs ‚Äô36 Ford at Kevan Sledge’s place. Once the Merc was loaded on the trailer it was off to Bakersfield where the real work could start.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-03They arrived at Squeek’s home/shop late that night. Ronnie’s Merc was unloaded and Micke saw his ’36 Ford for the first time in person. Micke had it shipped from the guy he bought it from in Oregon to Squeek’s shop  in Bakersfield the week before.
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Ronnie and Micke worked at least 160 hours in 11 days to get their cars fixed for their planned road trip to Gene Winfield, El Mirage, the LA Roadster Show and the end destination, So Cal Classics that would ship their cars by container and boat to Sweden.

CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-04The guys slept in the office, just to save time. First thing on the agenda was to make a list of things needed and visit the local car supply store and super market to get parts and human fuel. The first big hurdle was to get the cars registrated and legal to drive on the road. Micke had already arranged full insurance on both cars from Sweden, and made an appointment at the local DMW office for registration on the Merc. Registration and inspection of the coupe took a bit more time as the title was too old. After some long hours and some administration problems they left the DMV with new registration plates and tax tags! With all the paperwork out of the way, the real work on the cars could start.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-05Squeek had made sure the guys had plenty of space to work at, their own personal garage, and let them borrow special tools when needed. Ronnie and Micke brought some tools from Sweden and bought some at the local toolstore. They figured a big box of tools would be needed to ensure the trip to LA.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-06Ronnie inventorying all the parts he had brought, shipped and found in the car. 
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-07Micke’s 36 Ford was also packed with all kinds of parts and stuff needed to get his car back on the road. The parts were ordered over time and all delivered to his friend John Terry in Oregon, where the car was stored before being shipped to California.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-08And then… the hours and hours of work on the car begins. Long days, late into the nights, early starts,¬†no distractions, and just one goal.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-09Brake repairs with everything new from mastercylinder to brakeshoes and overhaul inspection of bearings to make sure the car would be able to make the road trip safe, and stop where needed. The car has not been on the road since the late 1970’s.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-10Micke did all he could to make the original¬†engine that was in his ’36 Ford to run. He had made a special tool back in Sweden, to use at the starter gear. The heads and intake were pulled off and he made sure the valves were loose. While Micke was under the car with a long socketwrench and the special too,¬†Mike Parker, a friend of Squeak tapped the stock piston. The engine got loose and turned over… but not enough for¬†the starter on his own power. Even after a couple of days with lubricate and wrengching. Micke ran out of¬†time to spend on the engine, so he had to replace it with the spare engine to make sure the car would run.¬†
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-11Everything on the brake system had to be changed to make it road-safe. The first time Ronnie lifted the Mercury,¬†he got¬†unexpected¬†news. The spindle bolt was so dead that the wheel move at least¬†an inch. So new bushings had to be installed. And the next surprise was that the steering rods was hitting the oilpan. Sweet! Ok let¬īs dig up a truck pan to a 8ba. Luckely Mike Parker had a spare¬†one that could be used on the Merc.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-12Working until late in the evening was needed to make the deadline.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-17Up early, and a quick breakfast in the shop. The locals laughed and asked if they always lived on serials and frozen pizza’s‚Ķ and beer?!
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-13Out goes Micke’s ’37 Ford engine…
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-14Micke droped the pan down to check it, clean it and replace the old oilpump before the new engine was going in.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-18Old and New…
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-15Micke is prepping a new gastank for his ’36 Ford.
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CCC-roadtrip-p1-radiatorThe cooling system on the 36 was totally clogged, Micke had the radiator flushed and boiled at the local radiator shop and installed all new hoses.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-16Ronnie keeps the neighbours awake late in night, Sparks flying…
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-19Micke’s Ford is now almost drivable… Ronnie is still working hard to get his ’39 Merc ready.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-24Yeah… 50% of the mission completed. Micke’s ’36 Ford coupe is back on the road for the first time since the late 1970’s. The crew has a new parts getter.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-20Ronnie’s Merc is back on the floor, and now its time to install new glass.. 
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-21Interior back in, and getting all the electric stuff to work.
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CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-22First time on the road for Ronnie’s ’39 Mercury since 1959.
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For a short time the guys thought they would be done early the last night in the shop, but after a frozen pizza and a couple of beers the crew noted some stinky smell coming from the ’36‚Ķ O¬īboy!¬†It turned out to be the coil was melted over the crank pulley‚Ķ They didn‚Äôt have any working spare coil and as the timing-cover was the wrong type for the spare dist. Micke decided he had to replace the timing cover. As they didn‚Äôt have a fitting socket for the crank pulley nut Micke had to cut the pulley off with the angle grinder to make space¬†for a big monkey wrench to fit. With the new dist mounted Micke made the final test-drive three thirty¬†in the morning. Now¬†the coupe was running like a kitten again! Pjuhh‚Ķbedtime!


CCC-historic-customs-usa-road-trip-p1-23They made it… both cars are done, and ready for the trip to the LA Roadster Show, with a stop at Gene Winfield and El Mirage along the way.
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Micke and Ronnie want to say a BIG thanks to Squeak for all help for everything!! Transports, lodging, workshop, work and great company!! We never would have made it in such a short time at another place for sure! Thanks for a really great time! They also want to thank Mike Parker for all the help and running errands around town.

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Mexico Runaway

 

MEXICO RUNAWAY

 

La Puente California resident Tom Hutchinson shared some of his old photos with David Zivot. He also shared an very interesting Ayala story told to him by his father, who knew the Ayalas.


Tom Hutchinson Jr from La Puente, CA. who shared these photos and the story with David E. Zivot is the little boy in some of the photos.¬†The ’39 Merc pre-War custom and the ’36 Cabriolet¬†were both built by and belonged to his Father Tom Sr.

CCC-hutchinson-collection-36-ford-01Tom Hutchinson Jr as a little boy with his mother and his father’s Custom Restyled 1936 Ford Cabriolet in the late 1930’s.
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CCC-hutchinson-collection-39-merc-02Tom¬†Sr. created this chopped and padded topped (Most likely by the Carson Top Shop) 1939 Mercury Convertible. Tom replaced the stock Mercury taillights with teardrop ’38-39 Ford units.
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CCC-hutchinson-collection-39-merc-03Tom Jr. a little older now with his mother and in the background his father’s ’39 Mercury with chopped padded top.
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CCC-hutchinson-collection-39-merc-01This photo of the ’39 Mercury was taken in 1943, by then a set of ’37 DeSoto bumpers replaced the stock units. Notice that the car ran two Appleton Spotlights, during a period that the cops were not always pleased with that.
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CCC-hutchinson-collection-38-ford-01The Gorgeous Gal in the other two photos with Tom Jr is his Mother Imojine. The Debonnaire Dame in this photo with the pre-War custom ‚Äė38 Ford convertible, is Tom’s¬†Aunt Dorothy.
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Runaway to Mexico…

a story by David E. Zivot.

This story is based on what Tom Hutchinson Jr has told David E. Zivot. The story is about Gil Ayala’s 1940 Mercury with chopped top, full fade away front fenders and Cadillac fish-tail rear fenders.¬†Tom Jr.’s Father, Tom Sr., was good friends with both Ayala’s,¬†and actually did the plastering work inside the House of Chrome building.¬†It needed work because it was run down and did not meet building code.




Gil Ayala’s ’40 Mercury in Mexico?

Tom Jr said his Dad told him that one of the Ayala Brothers (He was not sure if Gil or Al, but more than likely this was Gil, because we know Gil was very much into racing.) was doing some very fast street racing with the ’40 Mercury when the cops spotted him and gave chase.

The Ayala that was driving crossed the border into Mexico and hid out there for a few days until the heat died down.

He returned to Los Angeles without the ’40 Merc. Just think, the car could still be somewhere in Mexico sitting in an old rambling shack.

Remember the Roth custom that was discovered a few years ago in Mexico? I like to think that this is not an apocryphal story, and that it still exists somewhere down Mexico way, and that somebody would discover it and return it to the U.S. for all to enjoy!

Another thought is perhaps one of the Ayala’s, probably Gil, was driving it when Richard J. Stickley already owned the Mercury? Tom Jr told me that the municipal court judges were really cracking down on street racers at that time. They were making the guys sell their cars, and even ordering that their cars be crushed, and that they do six months on a prison farm.

So it seems understandable that they would head over the border and not come back with the car, maybe hoping to pick it up later.




CCC-gil-ayala-1940-mercury-05Gil Ayala’s 1940 Mercury parked at the Gil’s Auto Body Shop in East LA in 1949-50.
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Early Hot Rods

Tom also shared two very early Hot Rod photos, both photos were taken in 1938 and are part of his fathers old collection. This shows once again that Custom Cars and Hot Rods went hand in hand together in¬†the early beginnings. The Custom Cars were just more practical if you had a family like Tom Sr. was just starting in the late 1930’s.


CCC-hutchinson-collection-model-a-ford-01One shows Bob Loschi’s Model A Roadster which looks to be mostly stock except for the removal of the front fenders, raking of the windshield and addition of the¬†E&J (Edmunds and Jones) headlights, a¬†rare¬†aftermarket item, also known as the E & J Type 20 Bullet lamp.
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CCC-hutchinson-collection-2-roadstersDelmar and Hellman both had ’32 Ford Hot Rod Roadsters. A little fuzzy photo, but these two near identical early Hot Rods are just too good not to share.
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Early 39 Merc Custom

 

39 MERC MYSTERY UNRAVELS

 

This unrestored very early 39 Merc Custom padded topped convertible showed up at the 2008 LA Roadster Show. It had every Custom Car enthusiast talk for ages. Where did it come from, who was the original owner?



This 1939 Mercury is possibly every Custom Car enthusiast dream come true. I guess we all dream about opening an old barn or garage and find an original Custom from the 1940’s or 50’s that has been sitting there for decades. A car with a load of history which unfolds into this great story about famous places, and well know custom builders from the past. A car which brings back memories to many people who look at it, and car that perhaps even brings old friends together.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-LARS-2008-01Rob Radcliffe was at the 2008 LARS and took these photos of the Mercury. He was also very impressed and intrigued with the Mercury. The bottom two photos show the poor condition of the original padded top and the very interesting upholstery on the rear bench. The upholstery has an early Gaylord feel to it. The car appears to be in rather good condition for an nearly 70 year old custom having sat under a carport for several decades. 
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The first time this Mercury was shown to the public, like how we see it in this article, was in 2008, when Michael Lightborn en¬†Ron Clapper had brought the car from Texas¬†to sell it at the L.A. Roadster show.¬†The car was¬†owned at the time by Jorge Zaragosa from Texas. Jorge had bought the car as part of a deal which included a few cars, including this 1939 Mercury and a well known old Hot Rodded 1936 Ford 3-window coupe. Jorge was only interested in the Hot Rod, but could only get that when he bought the rest as well. The LARS looked like a good place to sell the car. There was some¬†interest in the old Custom but it did not sell at the show, most visitors are more into historic Hot Rods and not into historic Customs. But one¬†of the people that¬†was very interested in the car was Squeak, who made Ron an offer, but he declined. Ron and Michael tried went to a few other places in the next couple of days trying to sell the car with no success. So after three days they accepted Squeak’s offer… they did not want to bring the car back home to Texas.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-02Hard to tell from this photo, but the drivers side has holes for an Appleton Spotlight. Later it was found out that the same holes were also on the passenger side, but they were welded shut and leaded at some point.
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Squeak owned the car for about a year. He made plans in his head, but never got around to work them out. He knew how bad his good friend and¬†early Custom Car enthusiast Kevan Sledge of Sledge Customs wanted to have the car. So one day he let Kevan buy the car from him. Squeak knew the car was going to a good home. Kevan brought the car back to his home in Grass Valley Northern California. Plans were to try and find out the full history on the car, then restore it back to how it used to be in the 1940’s.

In 2015 the car went to a new owner, Ronnie Lindblom, another die-hard early Hot Rod and Custom Guy made a deal with Kevan, and is now, Summer 2015, the proud owner of this 1939 Merc.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-08In the days after the 2008 LARS the car was offers for sale at a different event as well. Now some hubcaps where added to make it look more interesting, and a sign asking for more info on the car was taped to the rear quarters.
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The Restyling

At this point of writing October, 2015 we do not know who actually performed the restyling on this 1939 Mercury back in 1939. The padded top was created by the Carson Top Shop who had their shop at 4910 S. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. At the time the Carson Shop also did body and fender work, so it could also be possible that the body work on the Mercury was done here as well, but we do not know for sure. Hopefully more info on the Merc will clear this up in the near future.


The windshield was chopped around two inches, and a padded top was created for it. The car comes with side windows, which were not stock on a 1939 Mercury, possibly these parts were hand made. The handle and script was removed from the trunk and a set in license plate was added. The gas filler was shaved on the fender and the filler moved into the trunk. The hood ornament was removed and holed filled for a smooth look, and the hood side trim was shortened. A set of Appleton spotlights was added. The car was lowered in the rear with longer shackles, and the bumpers where replaced with 1937 DeSoto ribbed units. The car was painted green metallic. According Kevan Sledge the color looked very similar to what was used on the Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury.


CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-07Detail photo of the wood top header and all the padding material. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-06More detail photos show how the padded top frame was constructed.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-05The main part of the headliner still looks pretty good.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-04One of the upholstered door panels is sitting on the rear bench in this photo. The wide very round horizontal rolls on the rear bench are quite unusual.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-03The dash shows mismatching gauge panel and glove box door. Although not confirmed it is said that the car originally had these parts chrome plated and that they where taken from the car at some point. Perhaps the old owner sold them and replaced them with stock units.
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Most likely at this time the car was also upholstered with a new custom interior, but it is¬†still unsure if the remains of the interior are from the original built in 1939. It could very well be that the interior was redone when the car was repainted a¬†purple-ish brown with a slight metallic.¬†We do not know when this was done, most likely in the 1950’s, but we are not sure. Most likely when the car was repainted the set in license plate was removed and the trunk completely smoothed. The passenger side Appleton spotlight was removed and the holes welded shut and body worked with lead.

During its life in California the engine was updated with an two carb intake manyfold.¬†When the car changed hands in 2007-08 there was a different engine in the car, but the intake manifold came with the deal. Apparently the intake ended up getting sold… at this moment we don’t know where it went.




Kevan Sledge, the new caretaker in 2009

When Kevan Sledge became the new care taker of the car he made many plans to restore it back to original configuration. But time and to many other projects stood in the way of that.. But Kevan did work on the car a bit making sure the cars condition would not get worse. Kevan removed the padded top frame and upholstery material that was left on it. He also added a better set of tires, hubcaps and teardrop skirts, which really helped the looks of the car.

CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-top-off-01After having had the car for a few month it was time for Kevan to remove the top from the car so that he would store that in a better way. Judging the rusty bolts Kevan estimated that it might have been the first time in 50 or so years the top was separated from the car. 
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-top-off-02And while Kevan was at it, he also took off the ugly modern to big tires and replaced them with a bit better looking white wall tires. and added a set of Single Bar Flipper Hubcaps and beauty rings from his own collection. It changed the look completely.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-13The original padded top was then stored inside hanging from the ceiling in Kevan’s old place.¬†
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-01Kevan took this photo from the inside of the trunk which shows that at one time there was an inset license plate. At one point this was removed and the hole filled in again.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-sledge-02The car was lowered at the rear with longer shackles. 
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In 2015 Kevan realizes that he might not have the time to give this car the proper care it needs and decides to let it go to early time Custom Car and Hot Rod enthusiast Ronnie Lindblom.




Ronny Lindblom, the new caretaker in 2015

ever since Ronnie has become the new care taker of the Mercury he has been trying hard to find out as much as he can about the history of the Mercury. And he already has found out a lot as this article show. But he is still looking for more info on the car, especially from the 1940’s and 1950’s. Ronnie¬†knows that the original owner of the car passed away in 2008, and that there was a good friend of the owner at the 2008 LARS show. So far Ronnie has not been able to get in touch with this friend. Of course he would love to talk to him to hear more details about the car and find out if there are possibly some old photos of the car.


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Squeak told Ronnie this story from the LARS show.

While the car was at LARS and before I bought it, an old (in his 80’s apparently) was talking to Ron Clapper and told him that he knew the car quite well when it was NEW in L.A. in the 1940’s. The guys¬†best friend had bought the car NEW from a Long Beach Mercury dealer and driven it to an¬†Top Shop and had them remove the original folding top and fit a padded chopped top, new interior and repaint the car and this was all when the car was BRAND NEW in 1939….. un fuckin’ real. Thus making it ‘possibly’ the Worlds FIRST chopped Mercury.(????) The old boy then went on to tell Ron that his friend that owned the car in ’39 had just passed away the week before the 2008 Roadster Show and had been to every one prior to that, unreal! Anyway, Ron let the guy walk away and forgot to¬†get his name or phone number or any other contact. So sad, this¬†was probably the last real link to the cars early history.


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With the help of the Kevan Sledage, Ron Clapper¬†and Squeak the full history on this piece of Custom Car history is slowly unraveled. There are still some blank spots that need to be filled in… so if anybody remembers anything about this car from its early days, or has heard stories about it. Please Contact us and let us know so we can help fill in these blank spots and make the story complete.

CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-12Detail photo showing the frame work and fine chicken wire that was used to shape the top.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-11The top upholstery has now been removed and after inspecting the frame work and comparing it with as many old Padded Top photos as possible both Kevan and Ronnie came to the conclusion that the top was most likely done by the Carson Top Shop.
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-10It is really amazing to see all the details on the top, work that was done back in 1939. ¬†The seats are some old seats from another car, sadly the original front seat is long gone, ended op on somebody’s front porch!¬†
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CCC-39-merc-conv-ronnie-09This is how the car looks in the summer of 2015 at the Sledge Custom Shop. Looking good with added amber fog lights and aftermarket hubcaps.
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This is what Ronnie has found out about the 1939 Mercury Custom Convertible so far.

  • The car was brought new in 1939 at a Long Beach Ca. Mercury dealer. Car was blue from the factory
  • The car was taken to the Carson¬†Top Shop when it was still brand new for a chopped windshield and padded top.
  • The car was painted a light green metallic.
  • At one point the car was repainted maroon, but other than that we do not know much about the cars live in the 1940’s and most of the 1950’s.
  • In 1959¬†the car was bought by Eddie Dominguez. Eddie bought the car in 1959 in el Paso. One day in 1959 Eddie was driving around and saw this ’39 Mercury sitting in a drive way. He thought he as never going to be able to own a car like that, but still he decided to knock on the door and ask if the car was for sale. It was, and Eddie offered the guy all he was able to spend on it.. and he said yes. The car looked still very good, all nice and shiny. But when he had taken the car home it broke down after just two days of having had fun with it. The motor froze and turned out to be cracked. Eddie did not know how to fix it, not have any money to have somebody else do it. So he parked the car under a carport. At the time Eddie was in the navy, then came his family‚Ķ and before he knew it the car had sat for 40 years. He saved the car for his kids, but nobody was interested in it. Ronnie talked to Eddie Dominguez on May, 29, 2016, and Eddie was really pleased to hear the car will be on the road again soon.
  • Eddie stored the car under a carport and at one point somebody took out the front seat to use it as a couch on their porch.
  • The interior in white and red as we can see it in the 2008 LARS photos has an early Gaylords feel to it. Bill Gaylords name has been mentiond in conversations about this car, so perhaps Bill Gaylord did do an new interior for the car when it was repainted maroon. At this point we do not know this for sure.
  • In 2008 Jorge Zaragosa from Texas becomes the owner of the Mercury¬†as part of a deal. But he has no interest in the car.
  • in 2008 the car is for Sale at the L.A. Roadster Show and three days after the show Squeak buys the Mercury from Ron Clapper who was selling it for Jorge.
  • In 2009 Kevan Sledge buys the car from Squeak
  • in 2015 Ronnie¬†Lindblom becomes the new caretaker and plans are made to find the complete history of the car, hopefully find some old photos and restore it back to how it was when first restyled in 1939.

If you have any info about this early 1939 Mercury, then please contact us so we can help get with this great customs full history.

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