Bob Lund 50 Mercury

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BOB LUND 50 MERCURY

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The Bob Lund 1950 Mercury convertible easily fits on the list of some of the best restyled Barris Customs ever created. It sadly never received this recognition in the magazines back in the day.

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Original article from September 10, 2016, updates October 17, 2019

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Bob Lund took his 1950 Mercury convertible to the Barris Kustoms Shop in Lynwood, California. This was in early 1953, at the time when the Barris Kustom Shop was perhaps the most prolific. The team at Barris created a stunning, very elegant and well balanced Custom for Bob. A car very typical for the time it was created, with a lot of never before used parts mixed with some elements that had proven to work well on previous restyled cars. Bob Lund’s Mercury never received much magazine publicity, until George Barris used several in progress and finished photos of the car in his Barris Kustom Techniques of the 50’s book number 3. These photos showed that the Barris restyled Mercury was one the same level with some of the best known Barris Customs, that did make it in the magazines back then. For unknown reasons Bob Lund’s Mercury was never featured, even though the Custom Car magazines were really blooming around the time the car was finished.

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Factory stock 1950 Mercury convertible, similar to what Bob Lund took to the Barris Kustoms Shop in early 1953.

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Judging the early stage photos were Frank Sonzogni is working on the grille, it looks like Bob’s Mercury might have been done as a milder version first, or perhaps it was just a primer stage. I have not been able to find a photo or info to shed more light on this. The stock headlights were replaced with 1952 Ford/Mercury units that were fenched into the smoothed front fenders.

The windshield of Bob’s Mercury was chopped, but only mildly,¬†2, perhaps 3¬†inches. All emblems were shaved of the car, and the door handles were removed and electrical solenoids with door poppers installed. The hood had its front corners rounded, and the top grille bar was welded to the fenders. At a later stage a second top grille surround was cut down, and installed on the splash-pan flipped upside down, to create a nice oval shaped grille opening. A new custom grille was created from 1951 Frazer¬†horizontal bars with integrated parking lights, and three 1951 DeSoto grille teeth were installed behind the new lower grille surround. The bottom section of the DeSoto teeth was hidden from sight by the lower grille surround. The grille created for the Mercury was nearly identical to the one the Barris shop created earlier for Dan Landon’s 1949 Chevy Coupe. Barris also rounded the bottom corner of the back side of the hood, a very subtle touch hat helped with the flow of the car.

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Barris Shop employee Frank Sonzogni is mocking up one of the 1951 Frazer grille bars for¬†the grille on¬†Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury. This early stage photo shows¬†that the headlights have been frenched, the hood shaved and corners rounded and the splash pan molded to the fenders. The stock side trim was removed. Its unsure of the windshield already has been chopped in this photo.

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At the back of the car the stock round rear fenders of the 1950 Mercury were removed and replaced with 1951 Mercury units. The 1951 Mercury fenders added a few more inches to the rear of the car, which helped create a nice long low profile for the car. Sam Barris worked on the rear fenders and he installed a pair of 1953 Pontiac wagon taillights. The top corners of the trunk were rounded to match the rounded hood corners. With all the body work done a set The Barris crew decided to install a set of 1951 Lincoln bumpers, front and rear. Those Lincoln bumpers were heavier and more exclusive than the Mercury units. They really add class to the car. At the back two exhaust ports were installed in the lower bumper ends. The combination of the 1951 Mercury rear fenders and the use of 1951 Lincoln bumpers gave the car the impression it was an 1951 Mercury model.

A 1953 Pontiac side trim was modified, flipped upside down and fitted to the Mercury side so that the trim matches the dip in the doors. A set of 1949-50 Mercury fender skirts was modified, extended down to sit level with the rocker panels. These fender skirts apparently were used only very shortly on the car, only one photo has been found that shows them. The vent windows and side glass trim were all cut to fit the new windshield height. With all the work done on the car Barris painted the car. I have heard somewhere that the car was painted a dark gold color, but¬†so far I have not been able to get this color confirmed. As most of the Barris restyled cars had in those days, Bob’s mercury was also dressed up with a set of Appleton Spotlight.

The car was taken to the Carson Top Shop who create a very nicely shaped padded top for the car. Possibly they also did the interior for Bob’s Mercury, but for that we have no photo or other proof.

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Sam Barris working on the taillights for Bob’s Mercury. The 1950 short rear fenders have been replaced by the longer 1951 Mercury¬†rear fenders. Sam can be seen here trying to see how how he can make a¬†set of 1953 Pontiac Wagon taillights fit to the Mercury fenders.

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Sam having marked the fender, were the extra material needs to be removed to make the Pontiac taillights fit and cutting away the not needed metal. Sam shaping a half inch metal rod to fit perfectly around the Pontiac taillight. 

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The shaped rod surround is positioned into the new opening in the rear fender and welded in place. Some small sheet metal filler pieces are added to make the new opening fit perfectly with the rear fender shape.

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On the inside of the new opening Sam welds some bolds so that the taillights can be mounted from behind. The outside is leaded and filed and sanded smooth.

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The finished Mercury

The Barris Kustoms Shop was a master in creating stunning Custom Cars in the later parts of the 1940’s and early 1950’s. When Bob’s mercury was created in 1953 the Custom Car scene was at its top of the Golden Years. The indoor and outdoor Custom Car shows were still growing, and huge crowds started to show up at these events. But the good thing was that the cars created were still restyled to make the car look better, not restyled to score more points at the shows for bigger and more trophies. Bob’s Mercury is a perfect showcase of the less is more¬†restyling philosophy that the Barris brothers believed in at the time. Restyling to make each car unique, and most of all better looking that it ever did before.

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When Bob Lund’s Mercury was created the Barris Lynwood shop was producing a huge amount of classic top quality Custom Cars. This photo taken on an Saturday morning in early 1953 shows¬†how the shop looked in those days. It must have been very inspiring and helped create high quality cars like Bob Lund’s Mercury.

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This is the only photo I have been able to find showing the finished Bob Lund 1950 Mercury using fender skirts. My guess is that this is how the car was originally finished. It appears that a set of 1949-50 Mercury skirts were extended down to fill the whole rear fenders. Also notice the conservative chopped windshield and padded top with beautifully finished side window trim. This photo could perhaps be taken at an outdoor car show, judging the mid-late 40’s chopped car parked next to it.

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Beautiful low angle rear view taken at the Barris Lynwood shop, shows the 1951 Lincoln rear bumper with custom exhaust openings on the corners. The beautifully frenshed 1953 Pontiac wagon taillights in the 1951 Mercury rear fenders and the 1953 license plate tag.

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The only photo of Bob’s Mercury confirmed to be at a car show.Bob’s Mercury with the drivers door open can be seen here in good company with several other Barris Kustom restyled high end Customs. From left to right. Dale Marshal’s unchopped 1950 Mercury, Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury convertible, Jack Nethercutt’s 1952 Oldsmobile, Bob Hirohata 1951 mercury, Chuck DeWitt 1950 Ford convertible and Tommy Thornburgh’s 1947 Studebaker convertible. According the Barris book this show was held at Lynwood park organized by the South East Car Club Association. And the show even had a Barris class, and Bob’s Mercury was among the winners.

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Close up of Bob’s Mercury at the Lynwood Park show shows that there are no skirts on the car anymore, and that George added one of his cardboard Kustoms of Los Angeles cards on the front bumper.

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Beautiful photo of Bob’s Mercury taken by¬†Loomis Dean, Life magazine photographer at the Barris Lynwood shop. Bob is just exciting the Barris shop driveway, onto Atlantic avenue.

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This photo from the Life magazine collection (a bit more close up than the previous photo) gives us a great look at the perfectly shaped Carson padded top, and details as the rounded trunk  and rear lower hood corners. The lack of skirts, and the usage of 1950 Mercury hubcaps give the car a sportive look, but the stance is all custom. 

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Frenched 1952 Ford/mercury headlights, rounded hood corners, molded in top grille bar, molded in bottom grille bar created from a flipped upside down top bar, custom grille and a great looking 1951 Lincoln front bumper. Bob was a member of the George Barris’s Kustoms Los Angles car club, hence the brass plaque on the bumper. Notice that the Appleton Spotlights are move up, apparently some work was done under the hood around the time Loomis Dean took this photo.

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A closer look the grille and beautifully created grille¬†opening on Bob Lund’s mercury. Hard to see, but the Custom in the background is Jack Nethercutt’s just finished Oldsmobile Custom.

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Published

Bob Lund’s beautiful 1950 Mercury convertible custom was never featured in any of the car magazines in the early – mid 1950’s. There is a series of black and white photos taken by Loomis Dean for Life magazine, but so far I have been unable to find out if these photos have ever actually been used inside Life magazine from around 1953 when the photo were taken. ¬†Rod & Custom published¬†a few photos of Bob’s Mercury, one, showing Frank Sonzogni working on the grille in the cars early stage in a Barris Corner Article about spending a Saturday at the shop in the August 1953 issue. And in the December 1953 issue George Barris used a photo of the finished car in his Barris Korner article about the use of side trim. It is really sad that the car was never featured.

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Rod & Custom August 1953 issue shows Frank Sonzogni working on the custom grille. It shows that the car still has the stock Mercury bumper, but the headlights have been frenched, and the hood corners rounded.

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In the Barris Korner about custom side trim published in the December, 1953 issue of Rod & Custom Magazine George Barris used a photo of Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury (without fender skirts).

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Our friend Ross Ruiz found this neat photo of Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury in the Wilmington Daily Press, March 1954. In this news clipping Bob‚Äôs Merc was advertising the LA Harbor Hoods custom car show. Thanks for sharing Ross.

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1953 Pontiac side trim.

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Unusual things about the Lund Mercury

There a re a few a bit strange things about Bob Lund’s Mercury. The first one is the grille. Barris always loved to create very unique custom grilles for their restyled cars, but in the case of Bob’s Mercury they recreated a similar grille that they also created for Dan Landon’s 1949 Chevy. We are not sure if this was because Bob requested this specifically, or if the Barris team thought it was just the perfect look for the Mercury.

The second thing is the use of stock 1950 Mercury hubcaps. Another thing that was rarely done by the Barrises. The only few exceptions to that where a few Cadillac they did, they also kept the stock ‚Äď custom straight from the factory ‚Äď Cadillac hubcaps. The smooth 1950 Mercury hubcap would later become a very popular Hot Rod part.

And then there is also the fender skirts on the car. The one photo that we have found with the fender skirts mounted clearly show that the side trim was created in such a way that it would not interfere with the skirts. The dip in the Pontiac trim did not allow for the lower rear section of the trim to go all the way to the rear. But with out the skirts, it would have been possible for the trim to go all the way to the rear. Still the side trim was not modified, extended to the rear, after the skirts were removed.

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Bob Lund 50 Mercury
The grille on the Bob Lunds Mercury used the DeSoto grille teeth set back, and the lower section covered behind and below the lower grille opening.

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The Grille in Dan Landon’s Chevy was created a little earlier than Bob’s Mercury. The only difference in the two grilles is that the DeSoto teeth are showing more of the lower section and sticking out further on the Landon Chevy. Other than that they are near identical.

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Unusual usage of the stock 1950 Mercury hubcap on Bob Lund’s 1950 Mercury. They do look good though, especially with the version without the skirts. It gives the car a nice, bit sporty feel.

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Sadly only very few photos have been found from Bob’s Mercury. We also have not been able to find out anything about Bob Lund, who he was, or is, and what ever happened to his 1950 Mercury. One, perhaps two of the known photos of Bob’s mercury show the car¬†at an (outdoor) car show. So far I have not been able to find any¬†records¬†that show that the car was entered in any of the famous Hot Rod & Custom Car shows in the 53-55 area. Perhaps Bob was not into showing his car at the shows all that much.

UPDATE
In October 2019, Gregg Bodiford sends us an email that in his searched on the Petersen Archives he came across a few photos taken by Eric Rickman in 1958 at Lee’s Speed Shop The photos were taken of an engine that was being build at the shop, but Gregg noticed that it was the Bob Lund 1950 Mercury that was sitting in the background on a few of the photos. Sadly not shown completely in any of the photos, but all the details are there to positively identify it at the Lund Mercury. The hood is removed from the car indicating the shop might be doing some engine work on the car.

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The Bob Lund 1950 Mercury photographed at Lee’s Speed Shop in 1958.

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This is really great news, showing that the car was still around, and most likely still being used in 1958. Now lets hope somebody knows more about Lee’s Speed Shop, and what the Mercury did at the shop. Thanks for sharing Gregg!

If anybody out there has any information about Bob Lund, what happened to his 1950 Mercury, or anything else about this car. Please email Rik here at the Custom Car chronicle. We would like to find out more, and add the information to this article.  Thank you.

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3x Mercury Perfection

 

3X MERCURY PERFECTION

 

Three 1949-1951 Mercurys Customs at the 2016 CCR show caught my eye, just a little more than other Custom Mercs at the event. 3x Mercury Perfection.



There were over 200 really fantastic Custom Cars at the 2016 Custom Car Revival show in Indianapolis, an amazing amount of all custom cars at this customs only event. Quite a few cars stood out from the rest to me, based on personal taste, and or historic significance. The King of Customs, the 1949 – 1951 Mercury was very well present at this event, from mild lowered with minimal body modifications, to wild chopped and sculptured samples and of course the Icon of the 1980’s Jack Walker’s Doug Thompson built Hirohata Mercury clone. But there were three ’49-51 Mercury’s that stood out for me at this event. Because they were so absolutely perfect in my eyes, or because they had that “I want it” gotcha factor. Its always tricky and hard to highlight some of the many, since you always feel like you are leaving out some that should be on “the list” as well. And so it was at this show… Still I picked three Merc that I like to highlight here since they gave me goose bumps, and because to me they show how these mercury’s look at there very best… at least to me.

One things I noticed on all three Mercury’s I picked for this is that despite the look and feel of all three is very much early 1950’s.¬†And obviously they were all inspired by the famous early chopped California Mercury‘s, as we all know them rolling out of the Ayala, Barris and other famous shops. The one thing these three had in common, but were different from the historic Merc was that they retained the drip rails.



1950 Mercury 

The first one to highlight is this new-to-me 1950 Mercury owned by John Hojnacki, in a wonderful deep burgundy paint. At this point I do not know anything about the car othere than what I see in the photos. I do not know who built it, or who owns it. All I know is that everything done to this ’49 Mercury is just so right on the money. Everything done is to enhance the beauty of the ’50 Mercury, not just for the sake of change, or to be different than the rest. All metal work as well as the chop was done by Tommy Steadman, Ardmore TN.¬†Finish body work by Donn Lowe, Portland, OR. David Wolk talked to the owner who mentioned the car was just finished and it only had 12¬†miles on it.

CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-01A new smaller and smooth grille opening was created using a flipped upside down second Merc grille surround molded to the molded in splash pan. An Chrysler¬†grille bar was v-ed to match the grille opening. Hood corners were rounded with a diameter that matches the frenched 52-53 Merc headlights. A subtile wheel lip is added, which matches the lip on the flush ’51 Merc fender skirts.¬†
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-04The top was chopped just the right amount and flows perfectly into the stock three piece rear window. The trunk corners are rounded and the belt-line trim extended to fill the rounded section (very neat detail). The rear hood corners are rounded, and so are the door corners to make sure the is nearly no sharp line on the car. The side trim is shortened in the front. Only “minus” is the stance in this photo, but I assume, hope the might be some way to lower the rear easily. (This photo was taken at set-up day.)
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-07The ’53 cadillac hubcaps are updated with a smooth bullet in the center and mounted on red rimed wide whites… perfect combination. This photo shows how the front of the hood shape flows with the reshaped¬†Chrysler¬†grille and echoes in the lower grille surround piece. Of course all handles and emblems were shaved.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-03The interior is done very tasteful as well. The Mercury dash is replaced by a 1950 Lincoln unit and topped with a perfect Mercury Monterey steering wheel.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-06The upholstery is done in off white and dark gray tuck & roll in a very nicely done classic early 1950’s style. The drip rails remain on this car, but are filled and smoothed.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-05The rear splash pan is just as the front nicely molded to the body, and the bottom corners of the trunk are rounded. The stock taillights are replaced with frenched and lipped 1949-50 Ford taillights with added blue dots. The lip around the taillights is particular nice since it duplicates the headlight treatment really nice.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-08With the hood op it shows that the engine is a work of art as well with three Edmunds air-cleaners and beautiful paint and chrome details.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-49-09Early Cadillac engine as beautiful detailed as the rest of the car.
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1950 Mercury

The second Mercury to highlight is Dave Wolk‘s 1950 Mercury. More information on Dave’s Mercury can be found on the CCC-Forum-Post with many detailed as well as in progress photos. David’s Mercury is just as the first one a study in design excellence. Very smooth with a lot of trim, emblems and handles shaved, but with just enough remaining details to make the whole concept very attractive and interesting. The overall style is not so much different than the ’49 Merc above, yet the appearance it quite different due to the use of many different details. David’s merc has an slightly older look and feel due to the use of the Sombrero hubcaps, the use of Appleton Spotlights, molded in stock headlights in reshaped fenders, and the hand made bumper guard grille.

CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-01The top was chopped just the right amount for this car with the B-Pillar leaned forward, but with the top corners left sharp. David made the grille from Bumper guard parts combined with 1951 Ford grille parts. The front of the front fenders was extended at the top and gently falling back towards the moled in splash pan. Stock headlights where molded in, to give the car and early feel. grille surround was molded in and hood corners rounded with a small radius. The front of the side trim was replaced with a rear quarter section flipped from side to side. Another subtile detail are the slightly green tinted window glass.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-02Trunk corners are rounded with¬†‚Ästjust as the hood corners¬†‚Ästa small radius. ’48-’51 Hudson taillights were modified to fit the Mercury rear fenders, and as this photo shows they fit the car and shape of the bumper guards really nice. The rear splash pan was molded in, and a set of 1951 Mercury skirts was modified to fit flush with the body. Notice how well the roof and rear window flow on the car.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-03On the inside David spend a lot of time and creativity to get the right Art-Deco feel. The dash is a modified 1948 Cadillac unit with a home made Art-Deco center grille. David also used the beautiful Mercury Monterey accessory steering wheel in his white and dark blue tuck & roll interior.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-04David’s early look is enhanced by the use of a pair of perfectly restored Appleton spotlights.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-50-05This last photo shows the really nice and a bit unusual color David mixed for his mercury. The color is one more thing that really set this one apart from the rest. The gray-ish feel of the color gives the car a sort of factory stock feeling. 
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1951 Mercury

The last Merc in this highlight article is one that is quite different than the other two. First because its a ’51 model with the longer rear fenders, but also because it has a much more in your face, and perhaps a bit more modern feel to it. The car was built by¬†Ron Box from, Ontario, Canada. The chop on the car is a bit¬†more extreme than the 49 and 50 above. The more modern look and feel comes from the left short rear portion of the roof. The shortened rear quarter windows and the extended catwalk (section from the trunk to the rear window). The stock large ’51 rear window was replaced with a smaller ’50 Mercury unit and the C-pillars are a bit thinner than what we are used to see in the typical ’50’s style. Ron also decided to remove the vent windows and modified to doors to accept one piece door glass, which gives the car more of the modern feeling.

One of the most tricking elements on Ron’s mercury is the beautifully reshaped smooth front bumper and stock grille with the bumper guard sections replaced with extra grille tooth. The shape of the grille and bumper is repeated in the molded-in lip on the hood. The ’51 mercury has a slightly extruding grille surround and Ron was able to rework it in such a way that is still feels stock, but much nicer flowing than the way that came from the factory. The bright “in your face” red paint really jumps at you. Combined with wonderful flow and proportions this custom Merc is a perfect ambassador¬†to draw people into loving Custom Cars. There is just no way Ron’s Mercury¬†can go unnoticed where ever it is parked.

CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-01This photo shows how the shapes of the smoothed bumper (which required another spare bumper to create) the grille and the lip on the hood all match. The car was chopped more as well as lowered more than the other two, giving the car a much longer appearance… the longer ’51 Merc rear fenders also help with this of course. Ron used a more busy design of the ’57 Cadillac hubcap for his car and dressed itp up with a smooth center bullet, which works really well with the shape of the grille ends.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-02The rear fenders were molded to the body and the stock taillight replace with tunneled ’50 Lincoln taillights. The rear bumper is mostly stock, but smoothed and dressed up with a¬†’55 Pontiac license plate guard. The ’51 Merc skirts are stock and the trunk corners are not rounded. This photo shows the extended catwalk and the pushed forward ’50 Mercury rear window.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-03Some ’51 Mercury use a ’49-50 mercury grille surround and no lip on the hood like on Ron’s mercury. But on Ron’s car the lip works so fine with the grille and bumper, it gives the car a sharp edged look. The stance in combination with the heavy chop it very nicely balanced also.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-04Frenched¬†’53 Mercury headlights work perfect with the lipped hood.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-07David Myers took a nice detail photo showing the hood corners and how the lip on the bottom of the hood was done. Not molded in like we normally see, but it works really well on this Merc.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-05The interior of Ron’s ’51 Mercury uses a modified ’51 Merc dash dressed up with much more modern components than the other two Mercury’s. This might just as the “cotcha” outside looks,¬†appeal more to¬†a wider audience, and help draw more people into liking Custom Cars.
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CCC-3x-mercury-perfection-16-ccr-51-06There is just no way you can miss Ron’s ultra red nicely balanced ’51 Merc any where it is parked.¬†
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Three Mercury Customs, all three quite different, yet all three based or influenced by the early chopped Customs from the early 1950’s. Two of them styled similar to these early ’50’s historic customs, but obviously a lot more fine tuned and¬†sophisticated¬†than the cars they are based on. Yet these two are very restraint in their looks and feel, and might be overlooked by the untrained eye. The third one more modernized and perhaps more appealing to a wider range of car enthusiast making it a perfect ambassador to draw people into liking Custom Cars. Many more photos of these and other customs at the 2016 Custom Car Revival event can be viewed here.

Special thanks to Richard Slim Toonkel, Mark Moriarity, Jamie Hall, David Wolk and John Bailey for the photos used in this article.


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Bill Verna 50 Mercury

 

BILL VERNA 50 MERCURY

 

Carl Johnson operated a small body shop where he created several nice Customs and Hot Rods, this 1950 Mercury is one of three he did.



David Wolk recently shared several photos with the Custom Car Chronicle. Photos of two chopped and padded topped Mercury’s created in the very early 1950’s. The photos show two mercury’s one 1949 an the other an 1950 model restyled by Carl Johnson. It turned out that one of these Mercury’s, the one Carl did for Bill Verna later ended up in the hands of a friend of Larry Watson, Larry Lorenzen, who had Dean Jeffried paint some flames on it. The car even made it on the cover of an book about custom cars in the late 1970’s.

But lets take a step back first, and tell you how David Wolk got these photos. We let David tell it in his own words.
“I was at the LA Roadster show about 5-6 years ago walking the swap meet. I saw an old guy with a table of old car photos for sale. He was standing there talking to another man explaining about one of the cars he built. I realized he was the builder of these cars. At the time I didn‚Äôt realize who he was and was kind of embarrassed to ask his name. I grabbed these few custom car photos asked the price, then asked if he would autograph them for me. My brother also bought one old hot rod photos, it was the famous Mooneyham an Sharp # 554 ’34 ford.
His name was Carl Johnson. At the time I hadn‚Äôt heard of him, but thought the photos were cool. Looking back I wish I would have taken the time to visit with him.”

CCC-carl-johnson-photo-back-infoOne of the photo’s of Bill Verna’s 1950 Mercury had these words written by Carl Johnson on the back. He wrote the information on the back of the photo¬†in 1993.
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David mentioned that he later found out a bit more information on Carl when he read an article in the Rodder’s Journal issue 44 on and lake modified 1934 Ford coupe. The story provided a bit more information about Carl. He was a member of the Rod Riders club and a professional body man with ¬†small shop. He helped chop the 34 ford 3 window in the article and also chopped¬†the top on the Mooneyham and Sharp # 554 34 ford. David’s brother bought a photo of the Mooneyham and Sharp 34 Ford from Carl, which we used at the end of this article.

These photos from Carl are interesting for several reasons, first is of course since they show two very nice customized 1949-50 Mercury convertible’s. The second reason is because one of the photos shows a 1951 California plate, which means that the Bill Verna 1950 Mercury chopped by Carl, is among the first Mercury¬†convertibles¬†to be chopped. This short list also includes¬†the Bill Gaylord 1949 Mercury, chopped by Barris, the Ralph Testa Mercury, also chopped by Barris and the 1949¬†Carl Johnson did for himself. And the third reason is because of the flipped side ways 1949 Buick taillights that have been used on Bill’s Mercury. A touch that was also added tot the Ralph Testa 1950 Mercury restyled by Barris in 1951. It makes us wonder who was the first to use these taillights this way. These Buick taillights also helped us identify the car to be later owned by Larry Larenzen¬†some time later in the 1950’s, and¬†Norman Woodruff in the later part of the 1950’s.

CCC-bill-verna-50-mercury-02The 1950 Mercury of Bill Verna restyled by Carl Johanson with a padded top by Eddie Martinez. The photo was taken while the car was still unfinished, with primer spots on the rear quarters, doors and A-pillars. A set of 1951 Mercury skirts was used. The photo is now in the collection of David Wolk.
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Carl chopped the windshield of Bill Verna’s 1950 Mercury and created hand made pods, or wind-splits to make the canted 1949 Buick taillights work with the Mercury quarter panels. The headlight¬†bezels were molded to the fenders for a nice frenched look and the lenses were slightly recessed. The hood corners were left square¬†at this point. A small lip was added to the front wheel opening. We do not know if Carl hand made the lip, or if it came from another car.¬†A set of Spotlights was added and Eddie Martinez was hired to do the padded top with open quarter windows Eddie most likely was also responsible for the custom interior in the car. It always seamed to me that the padded top Martinez created had a rather heavy look to it, created by the think profile look.

The front section of the Mercury side trim was replaced with a shortened rear section and flipped from one side to the other to give the trim a nice pointy look in the front. The photos show that the rear quarter trim has been removed at this stage since it was interfering with the new Buick taillights. Later the rear section was shortened and re-installed. The car was most likely painted black after all the work had been completed, although we have not been able to find photos of the finished version from the time Bill owned the car.


CCC-bill-verna-50-mercury-04The front view shows that the grille and parking lights have been removed, possibly waiting for a custom grille to be created by Carl. This photo shows the 1951 License plate on the car. The photo is now in the collection of David Wolk.
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From the photos we have seen from the mid/late 1950’s we know that at one point the car was further customized with rounded hood corners on the front of the hood, and¬†that the hood was shortened at the back, the filler piece added to the cowl and also those corners rounded. The grille shell was molded to the fenders and a new floating grille bar was created from a set of bumper guards, most likely accessory bumper guards¬†for a¬†1951 Mercury.


CCC-bill-verna-50-mercury-03This photo shows how low the top was, and also shows the primer on the A-pillars and doors where the door handles were removed. We can also see the subtile lip on the front wheel opening. Possibly Carl wanted to create a similar lip on the front wheel openings as those on the 1951 Mercury skirt that was used on the back.The photo is now in the collection of David Wolk.
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CCC-custom-business-cards-01Eddie Martinez did the padded top and interior on the 1950 Mercury.
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Larry Lorenzen a new owner

At one point, we are unsure when exactly this was, the car was purchased by Larry Lorenzen. We also do not know if Larry bought the car from the first owner Bill Verna, or if the car had already changed hands. Most likely Larry owned the car till about late 1957, when it was offered for sale on a used car lot in Long Beach, Ca. It was bought by Norman Woodruff in early 1958 and Norman used the Mercury as daily transportation for a few years before he sold it again.

When¬†Larry Lorenzen owned the car owned the car in the later parts of the 1950’s¬†he had Dean Jeffries add some long licked crab-style flames in gold, yellow red¬†on the car. The flames were designed in a way they would transform to and outline to cover the side trim of the car, and to follow the beltline. The flames where outline in a bolt white pinstripe by Dean. It was most likely Larry Lorenzen who added the lake pipes to the car. The photos we have been able to find of this version of the car,¬†with flamed added by Dean Jeffries seam to all be taken in late 1957- and in¬†1958.

CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-01Larry was later good friend with Larry Watson, and this black and white photo of the Mercury when owned by Larry Lorenzen comes from the Larry Watson Collection. It shows the car with new Oldsmobile hubcaps ad lake pipes. The fender skirts and bumper guards have been removed at this stage.
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-02This it the other photo of the Mercury from the Larry Watson Personal Collection. We are unsure when this photo was taken, possibly around late 1957, perhaps early 1958. The car was obviously for sale, for a low price of just $695.-. The hubcaps were and spotlights are removed, but otherwise the car looks to be in good shape.
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-08Since this color photo of the Merc is the best quality one we have we took a section of the front and enlarged it, so we can have a better look. We can see that the location of the antenna has been changed from the 1951 photos, the parking lights are nicely molded in, possibly taken from another car. The rounded hood corners front and rear and how the custom lip on the front wheel openings are accented with paint and pinstriping.
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-06The Mercury appeared in color on the cover of the book Grease Machines published in 1978 and is the only photo we know of that shows the custom interior by Martinez. 
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-07Despite the large cover photo of the Merc, there was not a full feature on the car inside the Grease Machine book. But the introduction chapter did show this small color photo of the car. We have no idea if the guy standing behind the car is Larry Lorenzen, or somebody else. The rounded rear corners of the car can be seen very well in this photo.
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-03Bill Junge took this photo¬†in 1958 on Route 66 somewhere in Texas after they¬†had a flat tire on the¬†way home from the drag races in Oklahoma City.¬†Bill and his buddy Norman “Woody” Woodruff (who owned the Merc since early ‚Äô58) had driven the car from SoCal to OK City to attend a¬†Drag Racing event. Notice the water bag on the front.
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-04Another photo Bill Junge took is the only one we know about that gives us a good look at the great shaped flames Dean Jeffries painted on the trunk of the car. It also shows how the exhaust tips exit thru the rear bumper. The car appears to have different hubcaps in this photo. 
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CCC-larry-lorenzo-50-mercury-05Photo taken by Bruce Olson in late August of 1958 at the 4th Annual NHRA National Championship Drag Races in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The design of the flames, how one lick turns into an “outline” around the shortened side trim and ends with another lick is a really great touch by Dean Jeffries. Photo is¬†shared by Todd Olson. This low angle photo shows how thick the padded top is¬†over the side window openings.
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Norman Woodruff used the still flathead powered Mercury as his daily driver for a number of years, and then sold it again. So far we have not been able to find any information on the car after this, we have no idea what happened to it, and if it is still around or not. If you know anything more about the Bill Verna / Larry Lorenzo 1950 Mercury, or more about Carl Johnson’s work as customizing, then please let us know, email Rik, we would love to add more information to this, or possible future CCC-Articles. Thank you.




The other Carl Johnson photos

David Wolk and his brother bought two more photos from Carl at the LA Roadster show. These and the article in the Rodder’s Journal issue 44 is about the only other material we have on Carl Johnson and his work as body man and custom builder. At this point we do not know when Carl started doing work as customizer, and how many cars he created. From the text on the back of one of the photos we know that he did 3 1949-50 Mercury’s and one of them is a 1949 he did for himself. David bought one of the photos showing Carl in his own Mercury. Sadly this photo does not show a date or anything else we can use to date the car. But to me it looks like this one pre-dates the one he did for Bill Verna. The car seams to have less body work done, the door handles are still in place and the stance is higher. But the photo shows that the car used 1951 Mercury skirts and also that the headlights are frenched with the lights recessed, something that we have not seen done on other cars created in 1949-50. The padded top on Carl’s personal Merc seems to be a little less bold when viewed from the side, giving the car a more elegant look.

CCC-bill-verna-50-mercury-01Carl Johnson in his personal 1949 Mercury convertible with padded top. The stance on the car is a bit higher than on Bill’s Mercury, indicating this one might be done earlier. It looks like Carl used a set of Calnevar Chrome Dress-Up trim rings with smooth hubcaps. What happened to this car?The photo is now in the collection of David Wolk.
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CCC-carl-johnson-mooneyham-sharp-coupeDavid’s brother bought this photo of the¬†Mooneyham & Sharp 1934 Ford coupe that Carl Johsnon chopped.
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Special thanks to David Wolk, Bill Junge, Anthony White and Todd Olson for sharing the photos and info with the Custom Car Chronicle.



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