Hirohata Merc Clone Going West

 

HIROHATA MERC CLONE GOING WEST

 

John DAgostino and his Silent partner acquire the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. The story behind the deal as told by John DAgostino.


A few weeks ago we reported in our News Flash article that John D’Agostino and his silent partner had bought the Jack Walker Hirohata Mercury Clone. We also mentioned that John is planning to travel a lot with the car so that people all over the world can enjoy this great Custom. Which¬†means¬†a lot to a many Custom Car enthusiast around the world, since this clone changed a lot of people when it was first shown by Jack in the 1980’s, long before the original Hirohata mercury was “found” and restored. We asked John to shed a bit of light on how he got Jack Walker to let go of his pride and joy. Lets take a look at the story John send us, accompanied with some of the photos he took.




By John D’Agostino

It all started at the 2016 KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” in Salina, KANSAS on July 27th, 2016. Several weeks before this show, my partner commissioned me to build the Hirohata III recreation. I did not want to make this happen, so I talked to Jack (Walker) at the Leadsled Spectacular show about selling his Mercury with the intentions of me displaying it at car shows around the World. Jack¬†was hesitant at first but I kept on him all weekend for his decision. I also had my partner talk to him about our plans that we may build one. I feel that why build another whereas the Hirohata recreation is probably the most famous Merc ever built and has been shown in 100’s of shows around AMERICA since debuting at the KKOA “Leadsled Spectacular” on July 4th, 1985.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-01This is the last photo John¬†took of Jack Walker’s Doug Thompson built Hirothata Mercury clone¬†in Salina, KANSAS, 2016 before his¬†trip to Missouri.
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This is without a doubt the BIGGEST Kustom news in a very long time. The news of the Jack Walker “Hirohata” recreation was instantly Worldwide history to Kustom fans everywhere. Now I feel it is time to let the World see the “Hirohata” recreation for the first time starting in 2017. After the deal was sealed after many telephone calls to Jack, my partner¬†(To be disclosed at a later date)¬†drove our rental car to¬†Belton,¬†Missouri¬†to close the deal.¬†The car was purchased on August 28th, 2016.


ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-02Arriving at Jack Walkers home, shortly before entering Jack’s showroom.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-03Jack showing John around in his “office” with an incredible amount of car memorabilia, of which a lot has to do with either the real Hirohata Mercury, or Jack’s recreation.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-04Handshake confirms the deal….
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-05The paperwork makes it official.
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When Jack Walker opened the door to his AMAZING showroom I knew immediately that my childhood dream would come true and the car would now live in the west. The deal was made for a undisclosed amount between us three ONLY. I can still remember seeing the ORIGINAL Barris built Hirohata Merc in many magazines when I was a child. It is definitely my favorite Merc of All time.

ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-06John D’Agostino sitting for the first time in the¬†Hirohata Mercury clone¬†which he now co-owns.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-14One of the things that set the recreation apart from the original Hirohata Merc is the body color painted dash with no striping, while the original has a white painted dash, with pin-striping by Von Dutch.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-08Jack Walker and the “silent” partner.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-09More handshaking for the historic records.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-10Look at all the cool stuff hanging on Jack Walkers showroom walls.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-11Jack Walker¬†walking around his Hirohata Merc Clone for the last time…
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-12John also took some close ups of the memorabilia on the wall of the Showroom that caught his eye. Singed painting of GeorgeBarris at the Barris shop with the Hirohata Mercury created for the 50th Autorama.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-07Mamie Van Doren signed photo to Jack.
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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-road-tripAfter the deal was made with Jack in Missouri, John and his partner went back home to California…. ROADTRIP…
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After a 4 day trip back to CALIFORNIA we decided to remise and spend the night at the Historic¬†RYDE Hotel¬†in Ryde, CALIFORNIA on the Delta waterways. This hotel is a Art Deco place where many celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable etc… stayed since being built in the mid 1930’s. What a way to end a storybook tale of the “Road to the Hirohata” !

Kustoms Forever, Johnny D’.



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ccc-hirohata-merc-clone-going-west-15September 13, 2016, The Doug Thompson/ Jack Walker created Hirohata Mercury¬†clone is getting loaded for the long journey West to John’s home in Discovery Bay, California. Jack Walker (seen on his back) saying good-bye to the car for the last time.
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The Mercury will soon arrive at his new home in sunny California.
We will keep you posted about this and John’s plans with the car here on the Custom Car Chronicle.


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Hirohata Merc Clone new Owner

 

HIROHATA MERC CLONE NEW OWNER

 

In August 2016 John D Agostino and parter Woodroe Parker  buy the Doug Thompson built Hirohata Mercury Clone from original owner Jack Walker. John plans a World-Wide tour for the famous Custom recreation.



On August 30, 2016 John D’Agostino announced BIG news for the Kustom world. He post a photo of a car mounted Barris Crest on his Facebook account. Immediately a buzz starts… What could be this big news?¬†Fortunately¬†for us, John does not keep us waiting very long. The very next Day John announces that he is the new owner of the famous Hirohata Mercury Clone, or recreation. John and his partner Woodroe Parker bought the car from the original owner Jack Walker from Belton, Missouri. John D’Agostino is planning a World-Wide tour with the Hirohata Mercury clone for 2017.

 

 

CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-00John D’Agostino’s Facebook Announcement something BIG is going to happen.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-01John D’Agostino on the left making the deal with Jack Walker in Jack’s Missouri Custom Car garage. The Home of the Hirohata Merc recreation since the late 1980’s.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-05At the time nobody recreated old license plates,¬†so Doug had to take an “generic” 1952 California plate, smooth out the stamped letters and hand hammer the right numbers into it. Fortunately the car only used one plate.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-04Creating all these modifications on a car is one thing, but recreating the exact same thing based on a few magazine photos is something else. Doug Thompson is an very skilled craftsman, with a perfect eye for proportions. 
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CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-03Recreation of the Kustom’s Los Angeles plaque on the front of the car.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-02The Hirohata Mercury recreation will soon find its way to John’s home in California.
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About the Hirohata Mercury recration

In the early 1980’s Jack Walker spend a lot of time with his good friend and Custom Car builder Doug Thompson. They were working on a project and as usually the discussion was about historic Custom Cars, the Hirohata Mercury to be precise. At the time, not many people knew that the original Barris Kustoms 1951 Mercury for restyled for Bob Hirohata in Los Angeles was still around, and “hidden” in the garage of Jim McNeil. Jim had owned the Mercury since late 1959. Most people thought this famous and trend-setting custom had been lost for ever. Jack really loved the Hirohata Mercury, and when the project him and Doug was finished, and it was time to pick a new project, he asked Doug if he was into building a replica of the Hirohata Mercury.

Doug Thompson did an amazing job on the recreation of this famous Custom, working with basically nothing more that the magazine features from the early 1950’s and a few photos from private collection. Scale drawings were made to figure out how to do¬†all the body changes, and get the proportions right. Especially the extended front fenders were hard to figure out, since this body change was never written about in the old magazines. In 1985 the car was finished, and presented to the public. I have heard stories that everybody stared at the car and stopped what ever they were doing when Jack cruised the car at outdoor cars shows. People were stunned, some thought it was the original, others had already given up the hopes they would ever see the Hirohata Merc in person. And now the recreation enabled people to see the full beauty of the most famous custom cars of all time.


CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-new-owner-Hot-Rod-MagThe first time most people saw and read anything about the amazing Hirohata Mercury recreation was in the June 1986 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. Pat Ganahl did and article about Custom Cars, “Is it time to rethink the Custom?”. The article showed a full page of pictures of the amazing custom. The car was an instant HIT, made a huge impact on the scene and inspired many to create news, vintage styled customs. Kudos to builder Doug Thompson and owner Jack Walker.
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CCC-hirohata-merc-clone-doug-thompsonDoug Thompson has been building many Custom Cars since the 1950’s. This photo shows Doug surrounded with a few of the cars he created in the 1980’s, including the Hirohata Mercury recreation.
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In the August 1989 issue of Rod & Custom, Pat Ganahl announces that the original Hirohata Mercury has been “found” and that the car will undergo a full restoration. With the original car restored we were able to compare the two. The recreation by Dough Thomson is amazingly accurate, still there are a few things that will help you tell the real one from the recreation. The most obvious differences are;

  • The original Hirohata Merc has sectioned front bumper guards, the Recreation has stock height bumper guards¬†(Bob Hirohata’s Mercury had stock height cards for a very short time, later Barris sectioned them to fit better with the Custom grille)
  • The color of the Original Merc is more brilliant and bright, and was matched from actual paint found on the unrestored car.¬†The color of the recreation was based on faded photos and magazine cover images
  • The rear bumper has a v-notch cut out to flow around the Lincoln taillights better. The recreation has a stock rear bumper.


We are looking forward to see the Hirohata Mercury recreation pop up all around the world. I think John will be making a lot of custom car fans very happy. People who might otherwise never have the opportunely to see the Hirohata Merc or the second best thing, the recreation in person. I’m very happy for Doug Thomson and Jack Walker as well. More recognition for the amazing effort they did back in 1985.


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Doug Thompson 50 Chevy

 

DOUG THOMPSON 50 CHEVY

 

In 1986 master Custom builder Doug Thompson restyles an 1950 Chevy Hard-Top for Larry Cochran. The uniquely restyled custom is awarded that year with the prestigious Harry Bradley Design Achievement Award.



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Custom Cars & Lead Sleds

In 1990 I bought a copy of the brand new book Custom Cars & Lead Sleds by Timothy Remus. This was at a time it was still rather hard for me, here in the Netherlands to find any Custom Car related magazines and book. I was able to get some magazines from Scandinavia, and the UK, but an all new book on just Custom Cars was really welcome. When I opened the book for the first time I could not believe my eyes, such amazing cars as the restored Sam Barris 1950 Buick, the R&C Dream Truck, the Hirohata recreation done by Doug Thompson, several others, and one car that really stood out to me. A 1950 Chevy Hard Top restyled by Doug Thompson for Larry Cochran from¬†Belton, Missouri. The Chevy was so elegant, so perfectly balanced and styled. It looked like it could have been created in the 1950’s,¬†but at the same time it had a touch of modern feel to it.

There were 8 wonderful photos of the car in the book, an I know it might sound like a clich√©, but I stared at those for hours. I even started to build a 1/25 scale model based on its design. But I did not have the Caddy taillights, and the ’55 Chevy units I used instead, just did not give it the right feel, so it was abandoned. Doug’s amazing Chevy had a really big impact on me back in the early 1990’s, and from what I have heard from others the car had a huge impact on the whole Custom Car scene in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

I had seen some previous word done by Doug Thompson in the swedish magazine Wheels, and in some of the Hot Rod Custom Car annuals from the 1980’s. I already was very much impressed with his work, but now I had seen his Hirohata Merc recreation¬†(I actually saw pictures of the recreation before ever seeing photos of the original Hirohata Merc) and Larry’s 1950 Chevy, I had found a new Custom Car hero, Doug Thompson. Doug is able to combine traditional 1940’s and 1950’s styling with his own ideas of how a car needs to look which results in uniquely, well balanced and¬†very stylish Custom Cars.



Building a Masterpiece

The 1950 Chevy Hard-Top was started in 1984, and Larry Cochran‘s original plan for it was a chopped pro-street machine. Fortunately for us Custom Car enthusiast, Doug was working on the recreation of the Hirohata Mercury at the time Larry showed up with the Chevy. And Jack Walker, good friends with Doug, and life time Custom Car enthusiast and collector, was hanging out at Doug’s shop a lot. He was able to talk Larry into taking a different route with his Chevy, the full Custom route. Doug chopped the top 4 inches in the front and around 5 in the rear. The two part Chevy windshield was replaced by a cut down one piece 1950 Oldsmobile unit. And once the rear of the top was all shaped the way Dough wanted it it was impossible to get the rear glass pieces to work with it. So new rear window glass was created from heated and bend plexiglass.

CCC-barris-larry-ernst-chevy-second-01The second version of the Larry Ernst, Barris Kustoms created 1951 Chevy Hard-Top was in inspiration sours for Doug Thompson and Jack Walker thru-out the building process of the Larry Cochran 1950 Chevy.
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With the chop done Larry took the Chevy home and had another shop install¬†a 350 Chevy engine, Nova subframe and Nova rear end. This new set up had lowered the car almost 7 inches.¬†The new wider Nova front end caused the tires to rub the front fenders when the wheels were turned. So when Larry took the car back to Doug’s shop the first thing Doug did was cut out 4 inches of sheet metal around the wheel opening to make sure the wheels would turn. Thats how I always work, get rid of the problem and find a new way to make it work. Doug and Jack Walker discussed about some of the design elements on the car,¬†and together they came up with the large wheel opening flare and how it flowed into a long peak flowing from the top of the new wheel opening all the way to the rear fenders. The line of the peak was slightly higher in the front than in the rear giving the car an instant speed feel.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-11Mark Wojcik shaking hands with Doug Thompson the master builder of Larry Cochran’s 1950 Chevy in 1986.
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To make the peak work even better the rear fenders were molded to the body, and a funktional scoop was added to the leading edge of the rear fender just below where the peak touched the rear fender. Later Doug added three 1953 Mercury grille teeth in front of the opening, inspired by the Barris built 1951 Larry Ernst Chevy. Both Jack and Doug really liked the way the Barris shop had restyled the 1951 Chevy Hard-Top for Larry Ernst, and especially the second version. So this car was an inspiration for both of them thru-out the process, although they never intended to copy it.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-05Larry Cochran displayed the Chevy at the 1988 lead sled spectacular in Holland Michigan, where it sat with two more of Doug Thompson’s masterpieces including the Hirohata Mercury recreation sitting next to it.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-06Doug added exhaust tips and molded the Chevy license plate guard to the 1952 Pontiac rear bumper. The splash pan was reshaped and molded to the rear of the body. The peak below the Caddy taillights heavily reshaped. Everything on Larry’s Chevy works so well together.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-07The only¬†“compromise” that had to be done on the Chevy to give Larry still a bit of a race car feel are the hood louvers. Personally I think it would have looked better with a nice smooth hood.
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The new peak running the sides of the body did cause some work to get the doors to open and close without rubbing the peaked section. But eventually Doug got it all figured out. Next up was the front end. Doug liked the extra optical length the car had gotten with the center body peak, and since he planned to use longer Cadillac rear fender ends, he decided to extend the front fenders two inched to get the best balance. Doug decided he liked the early look of the stock frenched headlights the best for this car. Doug spend a lot of time to make the 2 inch extensions looks as “factory” as possible¬†curving nicely into the headlights openings. The original grille was removed and a 1950 Mercury grille opening was molded in place. The two piece hood was welded solid and the front of the hood reshaped to flow nicely into the Mercury grille surround. The hood corners at the front were rounded with a radius that matched the headlights.¬†Doug created a new grille for the Chevy based on an 1959 Chrysler Imperial grille bar to which he welded modified 1951 Mercury accessory bumper guards. The new grille bar has an unique shape and despite the age difference fit the car really good. This was the 1980’s and Larry still had a bit of Pro-Street feel in him, left over from the original plans for the car, so he asked dough to louver the hood with 150 louvers.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-16The lower angle photo gives a good look at the flared front wheel opening.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-15From this angle you can see how wonderful the flared front wheel openings flow the the front fenders and how the peaked side panels lead the eye towards the 1953 Mercury grille teethes in the working scoops. This photo also shows how the grille bar and front bumper are matching in style.
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The molded to the body rear fenders were next up to be modified. Doug had found a set of 1953 Cadillac rear fenders and decided the humb of the back portion of these rear fenders, where the taillight moved up, would fit the big trunk on the 1950 Chevy really perfect. The back portion of the Chevy fender was cut off, and 12 inches of the 1953 Cadillac rear fenders, including the taillights was added to the Chevy rear fenders. In the process the fenders were slightly extended to create mre length. The lower section of the rear of the fender was extended down, and the stock flush fitting fender skirts were extended down to sit level with the bottom of the rear fenders. Larry wanted to have a set of lake pipes on the car, and to better incorporate those with the rest of the design of the car, Doug decided to half tunnel these pipes. He created the tunnel shape on the rocker panels, just below the door. And molded in section just behind the front wheel opening covers the front few inches of the pipe. The Design Doug came up with integrates the lake pipe very nicely with the body, and gives it a much more finished look than most lake pipes used on 50’s customs.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-01The extended front fenders, lowered suspension, chopped top, body side peak and longer cadillac tipped rear fenders add a lot of extra actual and optical length to the Chevy.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-02Side view of the center section of the car shows how all the lines flow rearwards. It also shows how the door line had to be cut at the front to make sure opening the door would work with the added peak. The door corners were rounded to make all the lines on the Chevy flow better. Notice how wonderful the chopped roof flows, both front and rear.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-03The rear quarter view of the Doug Thompson 1950 Chevy is perhaps the most elegant. This angle show how all the lines of the car flow and work together in a harmonious way. It is exactly how Doug Thompson wants to see his Customs. 
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Doug used a set of one piece California 1950 Chevy front¬†bumper to which he added 1952 Pontiac corner pieces. Doug also welded the bold, and molded the 1949 Chevy license plate surround to the unit. Especially the molded guards make the bumper look very custom, and the shape of the molded in surround now matches the shape of the grille teeth wonderful. It are these “small” details that set apart any of Doug Thompson’s creations. At the rear Doug used an 1952 Pontiac rear bumper that wrapped around the extended rear fenders much nicer than the Chevy units ever did. He added new exhaust ports to the bumper ends and just as he had done on the front he molded a 1949 Chevy license plate guard to the Pontiac bumper. The front and rear splash pan’s were reshaped where needed and molded to the body.

The whole body was shaved, all emblems and handles removed and everything prepped for paint. Doug painted the car in Candy Root Beer for the complete car with a lighter shade below the body peak. Then the car was send of to Bob Sipes who did the interior in brown velour matching the new paint color very well, and was typical for the era it was built in. Doug created some custom hubcaps and mounted a set of wide white wall tires to finish the look. In 1986 Doug Thompson finished Larry Cochran’s 1950 Chevy. Larry showed the car at the¬†1986 KKOA Street Custom Spectacular,¬†where it won the¬†prestigious¬†Harry Bradley Design Achievement Award.

CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-08The front fenders were extended 2 inches and rounded to flow nice with the frenched headlights. The smoothed front bumper with molded in license plate guard matches the shapes of the customized 1959 Chrysler grille bar with 1951 Mercury bumper guard ends.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-0912 inches of a 1953 Cadillac rear fender were added to the cut down 1950 Chevy rear fender. Quite a bit of reshaping was needed to make it all work. The peak on the Cadillac rear fender was reshaped to flow with the ’52 Pontiac rear bumper, and mimic the shape of the peaked¬†that was added to the front fender and body sides.
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Second Version in 2000

Larry showed the car at a few car shows, but after 1988 the car was rarely seen, Larry kept it mostly inside, but in 2000 Jack Walker talked Larry into selling the Chevy to him. Jack decided to freshen up the car, he added a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps and removed the “out dated” brown velour interior and had Bob Sipes create a new more ’50’s inspired white with¬†burnt orange piping tuck & roll interior. The car was also repainted¬†with a¬†lighter shade of Root Beer than the original version of the car. Jack has been enjoying the car for quite some time now, and a few years ago it was offered for sale. As far as I know it has not sold and is still part of the Jack Walker Collection.CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-12


CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-13The new color on the second version of the Chevy is much brighter than the original Version. The only other optical change are the Sombrero hubcaps, which give the car and more early 1950’s feel.
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CCC-doug-thompson-50-chevy-interiorBob Sipes redid the interior on the Chevy in 2000 Original done in brown velour, the car now has a more 50’s inspired the. Upholstery was done in white Tuck&Roll leatherette with burnt Orange piping and brown carpets. The dash remained¬†mostly stock.
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Resources and more info:

  • Custom Cars & Lead Sleds, book¬†by¬†Timothy Remus
  • Howstuffworks, website
  • Hot Rod & Custom Chronicle, book by Thom Taylor and Consumer Guide

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Butler Rugard Westergard Merc

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BUTLER RUGARD WESTERGARD MERCURY

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A very early Westergard customized 1940 Mercury survives several re-stylings over the years, gets restored to 1950’s specs and ends up in Europe.

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A little while ago we ran a short story on the Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury restyled by Harry Westergard. The story was about the car being for sale at a large auction in Greece. At the time the car did not find a new buyer. Recently the Greece owner contacted us to share some more photos of the car taken in Greece and to let us know the car is still For Sale. So we thought its time to do a full article on this unique early Westergard Custom, and perhaps find a new owner for the car who might even take it back to how it original looked when harry Westergard restyled it in the early 1950’s. The last restoration on the Butler Rugard Westergard Mercury, done by Jack Walker and team. The car was restored to a generic mid to late 1950’s version.

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This is how the Mercury looks now, photographed in sunny Greece in 2015.

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Lets go back in time first… to when Butler Rugard’s bought this 1940 Mercury Convertible brand new from the dealer.
Most likely being inspired by the GM design studies of the early 1940’s Butler started to have his brand new 1940 Mercury Customized right away. One of the people who he knew could handle the changes he had in mind was Harry Westergard. Butler took the Mercury to Harry to have him create full fade away fenders.

The story goes that the complete restyling was done over a period of time. Dick Bertolucci mentioned that some of the early work on this Mercury was done by Les Crane, who worked with Harry Westergard on a few projects. Each time Butler took the car back to Harry to have some more changes done to it. But as far as we know the fade-away fenders was the first restyling done by Harry.

There are different stories going around about the padded top on the car. One story is that Westergard chopped the windshield, and created a frame for a padded top, another story is that it was the padded top that was done by one of the famous shops very early on in the process. Westergard is credited for replacing the stock grille with the Buick unit. The hood has also been modified to fit the flatter Buick grille, but the typical Mercury side bulges on the hood are still on the hood sides in this version.

In the later version the bulge was removed and the body crease on the hood sides extended and wrapped around to the front of the hood. The car has 1937 DeSoto bumpers, and the stock 1940 Mercury headlights are still in place. This version used black wall tires and single bar flipper hubcaps. Jack Walker provided the Custom Car Chronicle with a very rare photo of this early version of Butler’s 1940 Mercury. De photo did not come with a dat, but this must have been in the very early 1940’s.

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Jack Walker provided this amazing photo. It shows the car in an early version when the hood sides and headlights were still stock. The car was then also fitted with 1937 DeSoto bumpers.

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He reshape the front of the front fenders and added Packard headlights to them. The team wanted to use a 1942 Buick grille, but since that unit is a lot thinner than the v-shaped Mercury grille the hood needed to be reworked considerably to make this all work. Harry reshaped the front of the hood, he tucked the lower section inward, to meet the new 1942 Buick grille. this all resulting in a dolphin like hood shape, a similar shape we can also see in some coach-built roadsters from those days. Although we are not sure if Harry might have been influenced by those, or if this is just a coincidence.

At the rear Harry installed 1940 Chevrolet taillights, vertical on slightly extended moldings and a set of tear drop fender skirts. The car was lowered with long shackles and a de-arched spring at the back. The car was dressed up with Lyons hubcaps on wide whites, 1941 Packard bumpers and a set of spotlights. The original flathead Mercury V-8 was kept in the car, but was dressed up with some early Hop Up speed parts as a triple-carb Offenhauser intake manifold with matching Offenhauser finned heads. We are unsure when Harry completed the car in this what we cal final version. But we do know that the car was shown like this at a Sacramento Car dealer show in 1950.

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Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury at the Sacramento Car dealer show in 1950.

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August issue of Custom Cars magazine showed the car in the letter section. Dark paint, no skirts and long lake pipes.

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It appears that Butler hung on to the mercury long enough to hand it over to his daughter Marie somewhere in the 1950’s. In the August 1960 issue of Custom Cars magazine, there is a small write up on the car in the “Mail Call” section. According this article the car was painted black then, had leopard fur upholstery on the inside of the padded top, a chrome plated dash, and leather upholstery. The photo showed full length lake pipes and no skirts on the rear fenders. It also appears that at least the rear bumper was replaced with a more wrap around unit.

Steve Bateman bought this 1940 Merc Conv. in 1973 in Isleton, Calif. from the Fernandez family (Butler’s daughter), he kept it for two years and then sold it to Ron Marquardt

The next update we were able to find, comes from the early 1980’s. The car is a dark color, but has now an new horizontal grille opening added. The padded top is re-upholstered in dark material. The lake pipes are gone and so is the front bumper. Black wall tires replace the classic white wall units from the previous versions.

According a small write up, the car had been in storage and had been restored when the photo was taken in 1982. Ron kept the car for the next 25 years and they cruised every summer. Most likely during this period the car was in an accident damaging the front and rear end of the car. The car was repaired with tunneled headlights and set-in, turned upside down, 1939 Ford taillights in the back.

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Dark paint, dark top, black wall tires and a new grille opening.

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The the car was painted white, the padded top was covered with white material, and a 1949 plymouth rear bumper was added on the back. The horizontal grille opening was filled with 1951-53 DeSoto grille teeth, and no bumper was used on the front. The original Spotlight have now been replaced with Dummy units. Chip Chipman photographed the car like this in August 2000.

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This photo and those below , (of the white version) were taken by Chip Chipman in 2000. The car was now painted white with a white covered top and a set of DeSoto grille teeth in the new grille opening.

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In the 1990’s, Ron advertised the car for sale in the Hemmings Motor News. Jack Walker, custom car enthusiast and collector of Belton, Missouri, spots the ad. Before he decides to buy it he is doing some research to find out if it is the real deal as the advertisement claims. Jack even asks George Barris, who recalls the car from the time he was learning the trade at Harry Westergards shop. So he advised Jack to buy the car sight unseen. Jack decides to buy the car and asks his friend Ed Guffey to team up with him on the restoration.

Dave Dolman in Verdon, Nebraska, was hired to do the bodywork restored. The body was n rather bad shape and needed a lot of work getting straight again.Once the body work was done Jack and Ed decided to paint the car Candy Apple Red. Not really the right color for this 1940’s custom. But the team decided to see it as a mid 1950’s redone version of the car. The modern engine was replaced with a flathead engine and the interior that came with the car was good enough to be restored. Bob Sipes redid the padded top.

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The Butler Rugard, Harry Westergard-built 1940 Mercury was invited to the prestigious Taildraggers on the grass exhibit at the 2005 Pebble Beach Concourse.

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At some point not too long after the Pebble Beach event Jack Walker and Ed decided to let go of the Historic Mercury and Ralph Whitworth’s aquired it for his Museum. Sadly the Museum plans came to an halt in 2009 and most of the collection ended up being auctioned. The Butler Rugard, Westergard Mercury ended up in the hands a new owner from Greece.

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When the car was part of Ralph Whitworth’s Museum the car was invited to the Mercury Gathering at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama. A historic event with the best and most historical Custom Mercury’s from all over the US.

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To Greece

Not long after the Sacramento show the Museum was closed and most cars in the collection auctioned at the special Icons of Speed & Style RM Auction. The car was sold for $75,000.- plus 10% auction fees. Far below the estimate. The new owner of the Butler Rugard 1940 Mercury takes it to his home in Greece after that.

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The Harry Westergard Butler Rugard 1940 Mercury as advertised for the Icons of Speed & Style RM Auction. Estimated to sell for $125,000 – 175,000 it eventually went for $75,000.- plus 10% auction fees.

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The Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury after it has been shipped to the new owner in Greece.

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In June 15, 2013 the car ends up at an COYS auction in Greece. However the car did not meet its reserve, it was estimated to bring: ‚ā¨80,000 ‚Äď ‚ā¨100,000 ($124,208.00 ‚Äď $155,260.00) and was not sold and went back to the owner who had bought it at the US Auction.

The Mercury at the 2013 COYS Auction.

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This photo, and the four below shows the car as it was in 2015, photographed by the then owner in Greece. The owner had contacted us to advertise the car for Sale on the CCC. Eventually around 2019 he is able to find a new owner for the car.

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The car today is still in the same condition as the Jack Walker team restored the car in. Odd, far from period perfect Candy apple red with red wheels and Packard baby moon hubcaps. A nice set of Lyons hubcaps, wide whites and a dark maroon or black paint job would do wonders for this car.

GOOD NEWS!
September 2019. The really great news is that the new owner has great plans for the car. The new owner, and his friends are very dedicated. First plan is to get it technically all in order so that the car can actually been driven, and driven safely. The next plan is that the car will most likely be shipped to the US at the end of the summer in 2020, possibly to attend some shows there. The new owner lives half of the year in Greece, and half of the year in the US. Then the later part of the plan is, and this is the most exciting part of it…. to have the car brought back to early 1940’s specs. Black paint, DeSoto Bumpers, just as how the car was initially created for Butler Rugard.

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We soon will be updating this article with more info, and current photos of the car.



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