A short drive in the Hirohata Mercury

 

A SPIN IN A CUSTOM CAR ICON

 

Hirohata Mercury owner Jim McNiel, asked me to jump in the passenger seat of his Mercury for a short drive. It put an instant HUGE smile on my face that lasted for days



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This article was original created in 2013, but with the passing of Jim McMiel on May 7, 2018 I thought it would be nice to put this article on Jim and driving the Hirohata Mercury back on top. RIP Jim McNiel.
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In 2010 the plan was developed to gather the very best historical custom cars, that were still around in the US, to be part of a special exhibition at the 2011 GNRS. I was invited to be one of the four organizers of this Customs Then & Now exhibition. The whole experience was mind boggling, something I will never, ever forget in my life. The “road” towards the event was special. In my mind’s eye, I could visualize the building getting filled with all the cars and people we invited from all over the US. When it was time to fly to California, a couple of days before the show, I had a hard time getting any sleep at night. Once arrived in Pomona, I saw the first historical custom cars that had already arrived. Cars like the Barris-built Dick Fowler 1938 Ford coupe, and several others, with more customs arriving every hour. I was in heaven.

On Thursday morning, set-up day before the show, I was walking from my hotel to the AHRF parking lot, towards the Fairplex building, when I spotted a long trailer with the side door opened a few inches. I immediately recognized the ice green color on the car inside: The Hirohata Mercury. So, I walked over and talked to the driver, to see if Jim McNiel was around as well. “They will be here any minute”, he said. And sure that was the case. It was really great to see Jim again, after we had met earlier at the Sacramento Autorama Mercury Gathering in 2009. We talked for a bit, and then he had to unload the car. He parked it in a nice spot at the parking lot, so I could take some photos.

Jim stepped back, and let me alone with the car for some time. I walked around it, followed every line on the car, took as many photos from every possible angle I could think of, and absorbed every little detail about this car. I had seen the iconic Hirohata Merc before in Sacramento, but seeing the car in natural light and being able to walk around it with nobody else to bump into, was an extremely nice and privileged experience.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-01-WThe extended front fenders and hood lip create a perfect balance for the long chopped roof line.
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The Hirohata Mercury is the Custom Car that comes to mind when somebody says the word Custom Car. At least it is to me, and I know this is the same for a lot of people. the Hirohate Merc is THE historic Custom Car icon. And the car was sitting there in front of me with nobody else around it. If I close my eyes I could hear Sam Barris and his team hammering away on the body. I could almost feel the excitement in the Barris Shop, when the car was finally assembled, and the team saw what they had created. I could almost see the huge smile on Bob Hirohata’s face, when he took it for the first spin around the block. I was in Custom Car Heaven before the show had started, and I did not even realize that – for me – the best thing that very day, still had to come.


CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-14-WThe rear 3/4 view shows show all the lines from the Buick Side trim, the chopped top, the curved side windows, custom made scoop and reshaped character line flow together .
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-03-WThe custom made parking lights add extra width to the front of the car. The hand made lip on the front wheel opening matches the one of the flush fitted fender skirt at the rear.
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Jim had made an appointment with a photographer from Sweden for a photo-shoot. Together they decided the best location for the shoot would be on the other side of area where we were standing. Then Jim asked me if I wanted to take a seat in the car, when he drove to the location…

Eh… Yes please!

Jim McNiel invited me to sit, and drive inside the Hirohata Mercury! Instant smile on my face. I made sure, I put my back-pack and try-pod extremely safely on the floor, in order not to damage anything, and carefully sat on the green and white tuck & roll front seat. Jim got in the car behead the steering wheel, and started the engine. It ran flawless, and the sound of the Cadillac engine was music to my ears. I looked around absorbing every little detail like the hand made laminated dash knobs, (which Bob Hirohate made himself, and which are still in place), the Von Dutch pin-striping on the dash is amazing, extremely fine and detailed, and weird above all. I also noticed the V-butted windshield, the chrome garnish around the windshield, the green hand made fuzzy rear view mirror “warmer” that Jim’s wife Sue, made so many years ago. The green and white headliner- which is still the original that the Carson Top Shop made in 1952, the slightly cracked Monterey steering wheel, and Jim holding it, slowly turning to maneuver the car thru the parking lot. It felt the car was floating, Jim drove slow and seemed to enjoy every second driving his baby.

I tried to imagine how it must have been driving this car back in the early 1950’s. The car probably just stopped traffic, and had people turn to take a second look when it was passing by back then.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-05-WNotice the relaxed position Jim has in the car. This photo also shows the slightly cracked -unrestored- Monterey Steering wheel. Jim added the bullet steering wheel center when he was unable to find the original accessory badge.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-06-WEven Jim has a great smile on his face, and he can jump in the car and take it for a spin whenever he can.
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On the short trip on the parking lot, people turned their head when they heard the soft rumble from the Cadillac engine, realizing something special was driving by. And then the large eyes, and instant smile on the faces when they realized what they saw. An experience I will never forget, and the smile it caused on my face never disappeared throughout the duration of the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-13-WHere we can see the V-butted windshield, Sue’s hand-made mirror warmer, and the unrestored dash with the Von Dutch pin-striping.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-08-WBob Hirohata also created the laminated knobs for the Appleton Spotlights.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-07-WClose up of the intricate Von Dutch pin-striping “this is the City”. Notice the cracked off-white paint on the glove-box lid and dash. This is the original paint that was added in 1952.
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CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-12-WOriginal Carson Top Shop created headliner, and detail work round the curved side windows.
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When Jim parked his car, and we got out, I noticed one other detail I had never seen before on the car. I had never really seen the custom made dark green lucite piece, that Bob Hirohata made for the door garnish moldings. I noticed it, because the sun light made it look really fantastic when I opened the door to get out.
We drove the car for only a small distance, perhaps a little more than half a mile, but this was a trip inside the Hirohata Mercury… an unforgettable experience!

After making some more photos of the car at the new location, I thanked Jim for the unforgettable experience, and went to toward the main building. Jim and I were talking throughout the weekend, whenever we bumped into each other. He seamed to have a great time at the show.

CCC-Hirohata_Mercury-02-WMy own personal favorite angle of the Hirohata Mercury. This photo also shows the sectioned bumper guards at the front only covering the bottom part of the grill.
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I know the short drive was “only” at the parking lot of the GNRS, but to me it was more like a drive in early 1950’s Los Angles…. Very similar to these Photoshopped images I created shown below.










(This article is made possible by)

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Joe Brenner 41 Merc

 

JOE BRENNER 41 MERC

 

The Valley Custom Shop restyles the perfect mild custom 1941 Mercury 4-door Sedan for Joe Brenner.



This article was originally created in November, 2015, and more material was added in May, 2017 after we got in contact with Joe Brenner who supplied the Custom Car Chronicle with some very interesting never before seen photos and information about the history of the car.

The Valley Custom Shop restyled 1941 Mercury four door sedan for Joe Brenner has been one of my all time favorite mildly Customized four door sedans. This mildly restyled Mercury appeared in the February 1958 issue of Rod & Custom magazine, which happend to be among the first 10 copies of old R&C magazines I ever found. Those 10 magazines was all I had as far as old magazines and books for several years back in the late 1980’s. So every car inside those magazines is really special to me. But this 1941 Mercury would have most likely been very special to me no matter what. I just really like the wonderful simple lines of the stock 1941 Mercury, any body style, and especially after the Valley Custom Shop was finished with enhancing the beauty of it.


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Everything about Joe’s Mercury is subtile, yet very stylish. Enhancing the already beautiful lines of the 1941 Mercury the Valley Custom Shop started with.
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For a long time this R&C article was the only thing I had ever found out about the car, as well as Joe Brenner. I had never seen any other photos of the car, not at any car shows, or in any private collections. While browsing the Getty Images The Enthusiast Network stock photo site I came across a series of photos of Joe’s Mercury I had never seen before. They clearly come from the R&C photo-shoot, taken at the same location, but they were never used in the final article. I have added them to this article. And some time after I added the photos Joe Brenner contacted us, and share some more info about the Mercury and the history on it.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-00-rcThe February 1958 issue of Rod & Custom had a two page article on Joe’s Mercury. Apparently the car with a very 1940’s look and feel was still considered magazine material in 1958 when Customizing had become way more wild than we can see on Joe’s car.
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1941 Mercury 4 door sedan

by Joe Brenner

I was always an extremely visual person. No matter if it was a car, a woman, or a banana, I always chose the best-looking one, the one most pleasing to my eyes, and then hoped all of their other traits and qualities equaled their appearance.

One day, a highschool chum and I were walking along a Burbank street looking at the passing cars. He asked which kind of car I liked. I confessed that none of them really turned me on. Just then a ’41 Merc sedan drove by. I was immediately struck by the look of its long pointy hood rising majestically between two symmetrical grills. (If I am not mistaken, ’41 Merc hoods are nine inches longer than ’41 Ford hoods). I loved the rounded look of the car’s back. And to my mind, those bumpers were the best looking bumpers ever made. Not too fat. Not too thin. They had a simplicity to them that was pure genius. As I was later to learn they were the last Ford car to have spring steel bumpers. And all of a Merc’s trim was made of stainless steel. I resolved then and there to get one.

I found a fairly bedraggled Merc in Santa Monica. It needed lots of work, anyhow I purchased it. Nothing special about it. Rag barrel interior. My parents approved as now, every day, I could take my siblings to school seven miles away.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-01-rcThe R&C showed a small snapshot of the Mercury Joe had found in the used car lot. He paid $345.- for the car in 1951.
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The Merc in the early stages with trim eliminated from the top of the hood and nose, and hood side strips in the process of being shortened.
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“White primer was once all the rage and here is a sample of that idiocy.”
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Then for a time, the Merc was covered in red oxide primer. Some other shop made a modest peak to the hood which flattened out as the peak ran aft. Also little peak, if any, on the nose piece.
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Truck was shaved,door handles removed and long skirts added.
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Several years later, I wanted to build a hot flathead Merc engine. In the process of taking the heads off a junkyard engine, I managed to break 24 (Yes 24) studs off flush with the block. The busted off studs were so rusted in, an easyout couldn’t budge them. So having infinite patience, I drilled the largest hole I could into the center of each of the studs. Then with a tiny grindstone in an electric drill, I ground away all of the rest of the stud until I could see a fine black coiled line, the back side of the threads. Then using a pointed tool, the rest of the threads could be broken off piece by piece and the result was that i had a perfectly clean undamaged block once I ran the correct tap through it to clean up the threads.


I then sent the block out to C & T Automotive (Don Clark and Clem Tebow) in North Hollywood to have it bored out and a new crank and pistons installed. They bored the cylinders 30 thousanths of an inch over 3 3/8th inches and that coupled with a 4 1/8″ throw crank, made a 300 cubic inch flathead. (The original Merc engine was 239 cu in). Then with Edelbrock heads and manifold, three stromberg “48” carbs, and an Iskenderian camshaft, that engine was a screamer. Later on, after the Rod and Custom photoshoot, an overheat cracked the block and that was the end of that.

Body work done and painted in ’54 Buick Titian red lacquer by Valley Custom. The longer front door molding strip was made possible by using the left remnant of the cut off hood strip. Where the original front door handle was, a small lockable glovebox door button protruded slightly to electrically open the door. Some of the Colgan black and white naugahyde interior is visible. I had removed the fender skirts by then.
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Taken in Tujunga CA during a rare snow shower, the snow piled up behind the rear bumper shows that the ’46 though ’48 Ford splash pan had already been added.
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Finished, just waiting for fun.
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The Merc was painted Titian Red, a ’54 Buick color. But Titian Red was a bleeder. It showed what was underneath. Buick primed their cars with red oxide primer which gave the finished car a root beer brown appearance. But my Merc was first painted with black lacquer, and the Titian Red put over it. It resulted in a most beautiful cherry maroon. It looked like later day Candy Apple red. And the Titian Red paint was very long lasting even sitting for years outside in the sun.

Soon after the Rod and Custom article, I installed a 283 Chevy Duntov engine in it with 12 to one compression, dual afb carbs, 4.44 gears in the differential. A stick shift 39 ford trans with Zepher gears.

Much to my temporary sorrow, I had to sell the Merc to pay for flying lessons. But, that eventually paid off handsomely, as I became a piiot for the Flying Tigers. During the last of my 30 year career. I was for 5 years a Boeing 747 captain. Flying around the world many times and to 50 countries, I have had more adventures than anyone should have. These adventures are recorded in my book THE MIGHTY TIGER.


Joe saved the club plaque from the Alley Cat Burbank car club he was a member of . The plaque was hanging from rear bumper in the early years he had the Mercury.
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The Restyling on the Mercury

The car was pretty rough when Joe found the car in 1951, but as we can read in Joe’s story, he loved the over all shape of the car. A plan was made for the restyling and he ended up choosing the Valley Custom Shop in Burbank, California to perform the restyling, since he had a job at the shop at the time.  The restyling planned was very subtile, and would enhance the already very nice body lines. The frame was modified in the rear and a Valley Custom lowering kit was used to drop the body with a slight speed-boat stance.

The door handles were removed and the side trim modified since the door handles are part of the side trim on the 1941 Mercury models. The trim on the hood was shortened and the center hood trim removed all together. The two hood sides were welded to a single unit and a wonderful peak was added to replace the trim. The lower hood trim and the piece between the two grille halves was shaved and smoothed. Then a set of 1952-54 Mercury headlights was molded into the front fender. The parking light were obviously also shaved which all resulted in a very smooth front end.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-10-gettyLow angle photo shows the nice stance of the Mercury. This is one of the images that made it into the R&C article. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-09-getty(Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-08-gettyAnother photo that made it in the R&C article (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-07-gettyThis low angle photo gives us a good look at the nice subtile peak on the hood. It also shows the slight Speed-Boat stance of the car. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-06-gettyHere we can see the stance even better and we can see the 1946-48 rear splash pan that was added. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-05-getty(Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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At the rear the trunk was completely shaved and an 1946-48 splash pan added. On all four fenders the trim pieces were shaved, but the running board trim stayed. The team also choose to ad a accessory chrome trim piece for the drip rail accentuating the shape of the roof. But the wider stainless trim around the windows was removed and all holes filled and smoothed. With all the body work done the car was painted, only we do not know what color this was. The R&C article does not mention anything about the color, so all we know is that it was a super glossy dark color. A set of whitewalls was mounted and the wheels were dressed up with a set of ribbed moon aftermarket hubcaps. These hubcaps can be seen on quite a few Customs rolling out of the Valley Custom Shop.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-03-rcThe interior was done very nicely in a late 1940’s style, nice rounded shapes with full tuck & roll panels in black and white Naugahyde upholstery which was done by Colgan’s Auto Upholstery on Magnolia, in Burbank.  (from the R&C article)
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The engine was updated with several speed components and the interior was done in a wonderful two tone tuck & roll with light colored piping matching headliner in the light color with dark piping. The whole interior is done in a very nice 1940’s style, which fit the car very good, but which also is perhaps a bit outdated in 1958 when the car was “finished”. This, and many other things on the car show that Joe Brenner wanted to restyle his 1941 Mercury to make it look better, not to score points at the Custom Car shows. All the modifications done on the mercury are to enhance the shape of the car, and the team has really succeeded in this.

CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-01-gettyThe Merc’s 300 cu in flathead with three Stromberg “48” carbs, and a dual coil Lincoln V-12 distributor. Note the rare Filcoolater A-4 finned accessory oil filter/cooler mounted on the firewall. “Around that time one of fads young drivers used to show off the prowess of their cars was to zoom up Fargo Street in Los Angeles. Fargo Street had a 32% grade making one of the steepest streets in the nation. From a sanding start, I sped up that street and reached the top at 30mph (helped by the Merc’s 4.44 rear end gears), and immediately slammed on the brakes, as just over the top was a cross road and if you didn’t slow enough to turn left or right, straight ahead was a precipitous drop. Today Fargo Street has been bisected by a cross road a quarter of the way up, so Fargo is no longer the source of bragging rights it once was.” (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-04-gettyA better shot showing the improved hood and nose peak redone by Valley Custom. The peak now ran all the way back to the windshield and was also all the way down the nose. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-03-gettyBirds-eye point of view shows the hood peak really well. (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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CCC-valley-custom-joe_brenner-02-getty1952-54 Mercury headlights were nicely molded into the front fenders.  (Photo by Fred Beindorff courtesy of Getty Images /  The Enthusiast Network)
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Joe’s 1941 Mercury shows that 4-door models can be used very well as a base for a Custom Cars. With the right amount of restyling these cars can become really beautiful Customs. The same also goes for the 1941 Mercury in general. Not to many Customs have been based on this years Mercury, even though a few, including Joe’s car show how absolutely wonderful they can look with the right amount of restyling.


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The Mighty Tiger


Joe Brennen later wrote a boot about his 5 years as a Boeing 747 captain. Flying around the world many times and to 50 countries. He had had more adventures than anyone should have. These adventures are recorded in his book The Mighty Tiger (published 2003) And included in the book are some stories about the Mercury and related material.
Below are some excerpts from the book.


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“About the only usable asset I seemed to have was that I have always loved machinery. I especially loved cars from my earliest days, as they were the one form of machinery most accessible to me. So, as I grew up, I had my share of hot rods and custom cars with high performance engines. And, as I also had some talent for improving cars, both operationally and esthetically, I leaned toward being an automobile designer.

“However, that bubble burst while taking a high school drafting class when it dawned on me that I’d have to forsake the beaches and bathing beauties of sunny Southern California and instead live in sooty, snowbound Detroit with its darlings bundled up from head to foot against the deathly cold. Besides, it’d be just my luck not to be among the exalted few who got to design sleek, high-powered sports cars. More likely, I’d be assigned routine tasks like engineering the back side of glove compartment doors for frumpy station wagons. Luckily, my aspirations for a life as a Detroit auto designer died a natural death before I wasted time finding out that wasn’t what I really wanted in the long run.

“My interest then tilted toward the auto customizing business, which was prevalent especially in Southern California at the time. Fresh out of high school, I was employed in 1952 by two of the best customizing artisans in the business, Neil Emory and Clayton Jensen, at their Valley Custom shop in Burbank. But, there, too, in the customizing field, were warning signs on the horizon for those who had their eyes open. More and more, Detroit offered consumers cars that rivaled the best work of any custom shop, and often for less money. I mean (using the 1953 Mercury for example), you could buy right off the showroom floor a chopped and channeled stock car with tuck-and-roll naugahyde upholstery. A year later, the Mercury had an overhead valve engine.

“As the months passed, I came to think that, except for a few diehards, the auto customizing business faced a downward spiraling future, at least for the foreseeable future. Emory and Jensen shared the same opinion and folded shop to enter the collision repair business because insurance companies had more money, plus they paid on time.

(However, our vision was terribly shortsighted. The car modification industry endured a slump of only a dozen years or so. But when the current generation of baby boomers matured, they emerged far richer than their parents were thirty years before. Their abundant discretionary wealth gave rise to a tremendous resurgence of interest in the motor vehicle. As a consequence, the motoring world became extremely lucrative as money was lavished on all sorts of custom cars, hot rods, motorcycles, restorations, monster trucks, etc.)

“I was still hooked on cars, but not into restoration. For in restoring cars, a car is either restored authentically or it is nothing. But, if a car is restored accurately, there is no room for self-expression; you are merely refurbishing someone else’s design. It was the ability to express my own tastes and individuality through departure from the slavish constraints of established designs that I valued more than the mere work of shaping and painting metal or the revamping of things mechanical.

“This ability for design enhancement surfaced in my hobby of building dozens of model cars. One of my creations was an especially good-looking futuristic model pickup truck which I dreamed up at the last minute. I thought it good enough to enter in a national contest whose deadline for entries was mere days away. I worked on it feverishly every waking moment and had it about done as the entry deadline approached, when my wife started to raise a ruckus about my being up late and working on another of those “stupid little cars.” Finally, to end her shouting (which was surely keeping our apartment house neighbors awake), I put my tools and paints away, and went to bed. As a consequence, I entered my model in the contest the next day without having added anything to its interior.

“Well, I took second place and received a huge trophy. One of the national contest judges told me afterwards that the car that won, which he described as exhibiting “good craftsmanship, but uninspired design,” won first prize, not for meritorious design, but by dint of points alone. And, it had beaten my entry out by only one point—one lousy point! The judge told me that had I even put a steering wheel or a seat in my truck, it would have taken first prize. That “stupid little car” would have earned me a thousand-dollar first prize, plus a college scholarship.”

“Another consequence of that national contest was that the leading manufacturer of model car kits saw my extraordinary little truck in the contest and thought enough of it to offer me a job designing model cars for their firm. I decided, however, that it was time to quit playing with toys, so I declined their generous offer. By now I knew that what I really wanted was to be associated with the real thing. I loved to operate machinery. I loved big. And, the bigger, the more powerful the machinery, the better.” . . .

So, I became a pilot.— Eventually, toward the end of my thirty-year career, for five years I flew as captain of the 820,000 lb. Boeing 747 to fifty countries all around the world.

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Joe also send us a picture and a cool story of another car he owned. A ’67 Corvette, not really a Custom Car, but the story is too good not to tell

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Joe Brenner ’67 Corvette

Here is another car I owned, a ’67 350hp, 327 cu. in. Corvette, that is exceptional for two reasons:

It was ordered new without emblems.
It took top eliminator in both the small block and big block classes on the same day at Lions Long beach CA drag strip. (note the 2 foot tall trophy standing on the back of the hood.)

Having worked at Valley Custom, I especially disliked the chrome warts that disfigured, and took away from, the beauty of a car’s design. So, it said on my original purchase order from Baher Chevrolet “No emblems.” That’s the way I ordered it. That’s the way I received it.

With the intention of owning a true sports cars, I ordered my Corvette without power steering or air conditioning.

When I picked up the car, it had a terrible stance. It stood at least two inches higher in front than in the back. It looked like a motor boat, so I had one size smaller tires put on the front, and larger wider tires put on the back. The result was the car now sat level.

’67 Corvettes originally had tires with a measly 6” wide tread. But with those wider tires, even with its Muncie trans and positraction, the car now wouldn’t lay rubber. But oh man, if it got a grip on the pavement, it would launch with neck snapping ferocity.

The picture taken at the drags shows the car mid-customizing, true knockoffs, a 427 hood, and a ’65 grille, and rocker panels. Inside, all the plastic dash knobs had been replaced with earlier Corvette all metal chrome knobs.

When I first got my Corvette, I was really disappointed by its performance. In the first month I owned it, I had it in three different Chevrolet agencies trying to get its lack luster performance increased, also its poor 15mpg fuel consumption improved.

One thing that really peeved me was the dash pot put on the carb to prevent you from quickly closing the throttle plates in the carb. If you let your foot suddenly off the gas pedal, that dash pot sped the engine up and brought it slowly back to a lower rpm. My favorite thing was come racing up to a stop sign, with the trans jammed in a lower gear, let my foot off the gas pedal, and slow down on compression.

Finally, the last Chevy tech said “Son, it’s an engineering booboo. The engineers have installed a smog device on a performance engine that wasn’t designed for it. Your engine is right on spec. You’ll just have to live with it.”

But when a friend showed me his ’67 Vette first registered in CA, (by some fluke,) had only a positive crankcase hose, I took all the smog devices off my car and threw them into a cardboard box. Then I installed a set of Hooker headers, but because headers make an engine run lean, I had to go two sizes richer on the main jets.

Next, I took the car over to Doug at Doug’s Corvettes, in North Hollywood. And, could Doug ever super-tune a car! He changed the ignition advance, and also the total timing.

Man, now that car screamed! Plus the gas mileage jumped up to a consistent 20mpg. So much for the benefits of CA smog.

When the last of the 100 octane leaded gas was coming down the pipeline, I took my Corvette to the Lions drag strip in Long Beach. When I pulled up to the starting line, I told the starter that all I wanted to do was make a couple of runs by myself so I could get a timing slip.

“Haven’t got time to fool with you. We’re running a race here. You’ll have to run off against the small block next to you. Whoever wins the heat gets the timing slip.”

So, I got on it pretty hard. Beat that guy, and kept going back perfecting my technique, beating one car after another. And don’t you know out of a field of over 30 small blocks, I took top eliminator!

Going over to the winner’s circle to get my trophy, the official told me, “Yeah, you won your class all right, but we’re short of trophies today so we’re giving the trophy to the big block winner, because he’s the winner out of 12 big block Corvettes, and going 10 mph faster than you.”

“Like hell,” I exclaimed. “He’ll have to race me for that trophy.”

So, they got us up to the starting line, and when the light turned green, I was off like a shot. I never saw the big block beside me during whole the quarter mile run, but only as I approached the finish line, I saw him coming up fast, but I beat him across the line by 10 feet. Were the strip 50 feet longer, he would have thundered past me, but I got there first.

Was that big block driver ever mad! I went home with the trophy. Top eliminator in both the small block and big block classes. Same day! How many people do you know that can make that claim?

I originally paid $4,335 for the Vette, and later sold it for $20,000. I think it went to somewhere in Texas to a county that doesn’t have smog checks. If so, that new owner is a happy camper.

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Sam Barris Merc License Plate Frame

SAM BARRIS MERC LICENSE PLATE FRAME

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Sam Barris used Dealer License plate frames on his trend setting 1949 Mercury back in 1951. Rather unusual for a Custom Car with all its external emblems removed.

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Some time ago I had made a large scan of the famous Motor Trend Cover photos of Sam Barris’s 1949 Mercury in the snow. The photo was scanned from one of the Barris book to use just the background with a photo of Rob Radcliffe’s beautiful Custom Ford in the place of the Sam Barris Mercury. All that does not really matter, but recently I had that large scan open on my computer to use a section from it for another project I was working on. Suddenly my eye was drawn to the license plate from on the front of the Mercury. First of all it was unusual to see a License plate and frame on the front of an California car, let alone a Barris Custom which would often wear a Kustoms Los Angeles plaque. And secondly I noticed that the license plate frame, a beautiful shaped chrome plated unit, was a Dealer Frame. At first I thought that perhaps it could have been an early Car Club frame, but after I had sharpened the photo I could clearly read: LUNDSTROM MOTORS

Enlarged color photo of the Lundstrum Motors license plate frame



I shared this finding with some of my Custom Car friends asking if they ever heard about Lundstrum Motors in the LA area. And discussed the thought that possibly this was the dealer where Sam Barris had bought his used ’49 Mercury from. No new info came up, so I shared the enlarged photo showing the license plate frame on my Facebook asking for help. And within hours some great information came up. Howard Gribble had found a link to Lundstrom Motors in Sacramento who opened a used car lot at 1801 Broadway in 1951.

I know that Sam chopped his Mercury in early 1951, so it could be possible that this was the place where Sam might have bought his used Mercury from. But I also heard that before Sam chopped his ’49 Mercury he drove it around for some time. Not long after that Mats Olsson from Sweden shared some information about Lundstrom’s Mercury-Lincoln Dealership and Service at 1631 K Street in Sacramento. This dealer was founded in 1941 by the Wisconsin-born Fred Lundstrom.




Photo taken by Marcia Campbell at the last day Sam Barris owned his ’49 Mercury. I appears that the whole text on the frame reads: LUNDSTROM MOTORS  –  SACRAMENTO  –.

So most likely Sam Barris bought his second hand 1949 Mercury Coupe at either the Mercury-Lincoln Dealer on 1631 K Street, or at the used car lot run by the same dealer on 1801 Broadway. And later this car would be the trend setting chopped Custom Mercury featured on the cover of the December 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine. We do not know for sure when Sam Bought his Mercury, but we do know that Sam grew up in the Sacramento area, and that he really loved it out there, better than in the LA area where he lived from the mid 1940’s up to around 1956. We also know that Sam and his wife kids try to spend time with old friend and family in the Sacramento area. So quite possible Sam found the used ’49 Mercury on one of his trips up North.

Then the question comes, why are the Lundstrum Motors license plate frames still on the car after it was customized? It is kind of odd to use these Dealer Frames on a completely smoothed custom in 1951! Could it be that Lundstrum was a friend of Sam, and perhaps it was a way of sponsoring? At the time when Sam bought the car he must have known it would end up being customized. And at the time the Barris Shop was already very famous, so having the Lundstrum name connected to the Sam Barris custom might mean some extra business. Possibly Sam got the car a bit cheaper if he would keep the Lundstrom frames on the car? But all this is speculative… I have no idea why the frames are still on the car. From the photos I have seen it looks like both the front and rear used the Lindstrom frames, and I can see them on all the old photos of the car, including one taken in October 1951 at the Indianapolis Hot Rod show after the car had been sold.

Lundstrom’s Mercury-Lincoln car dealership is pictured at 1631 K Street in this July 25, 1948 photograph. That must have been a brand new delivered ’49 Mercury four door parked in the entrance of the Service section of the dealer ship. Perhaps this was the place where Sam bought his used ’49 Mercury around 1950, or early 1951.

(Photo above from the Sacramento Public Library Collection shared by the Sacramento Digital Room)

Around 1951 Fred E. Lundstrom, who already operated his business, Lundstrom Motors, at 1631 K St., opened a used automobile lot at the former site of Walter R. Figaro’s gas station at 1801 Broadway in Sacramento. This could also be the place where Sam bought his Mercury from. (info from valcomnews)

A slightly different, most likely older Lindstrom Sacramento license plate frame. (thanks to Brent Wilson)

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Just a neat little detail about the Custom Car Icon Sam Barris ’49 Mercury I had never ever seen even after I had examined those old photos to many times before. How great would it be if somebody had one of these old Lundstrom Motors license plate frame laying around and could donate them to be used on the restored Sam Barris Mercury. Right now the restored car has the plain frames on it, those frames were the number one choice to use back then.

The restored Sam Barris 1949 Mercury at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concourse. The car uses plain chrome plated license plate frames.

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I want to especially thank Mats Olsson very much for once again finding all the great info. He also was able to track down the famous Marcia Campbell Line-Up photo shoot location some time ago.

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Richard Aguirre 55 Mercury

 

RICHARD AQUIRRE 55 MERCURY

 

After failing to buy a famous Barris Custom, Richard Aguirre buys a brand new 1955 Mercury and drives it straight to the Ayala Shop for some Custom work.

By Memo Ortega



There use to be a Barris car that was in the 1955 movie “Running Wild”. It was a chop 1951 Mercury with a Carson top belonging to a guy who lived in Azusa, Ca. Me and my friend, Richard Aguirre, went to a car show in Los Angeles, close to Beverly Hills, if I remember correctly. My friend liked the car so much he fell in love with it. We talked to the guy, it must have been the original owner, Fred Rowe, to see if he would sell the car. He went back and forth, yes and no. And finaly he said yes, come to my house next Thursday, so we did and they agreed on a price. Richard got the money together and we went back to the guy with the Merc, but then the guy backed out, and aid he decided not to sell the car anymore. Bummer…. and it broke my friends heart. He was all hyped up because we were almost about to ride back in a Custom Mercury. So we went back home, when Richards said… enough of this, “lets go to the Mercury Dealer tomorrow”.

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-running-wild-mercRichard remembered the Fred Rowe from the Rod & Custom magazine when he saw it at the car show we went. There the guy showed the movie posters.
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The next day we went to the Mercury dealer, and Richard bought a brand new 1955 Mercury Montclair, straight from the showroom, and paid cash for it. The next thing he said was… “were going to the Ayala Bros!” We drove up to East Los Angeles, to Gil’s Auto Body Shop and Gil and Al give him a price for the work he wanted done for the car. They were happy that we took this brand new car over there. They did not get to work on brand new cars back then. The work they agreed to do on the car was to fill in the hood and the trunk and shave the door handles add door poppers, add custom skirts with a flare, Appleton spotlights and they suggested to repaint the work that was going to be done back to the factory color which was a light green and off white. Kind of like a shell on a mercury and their suggestion was awesome.

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-55-merc-02Richard Aquirre with his brand new 1955 Mercury Montclair shortly after the Ayala’s had nosed, decked it, removed the door handles, added custom skirts, and Appleton Spotlights. But before they had dropped it really low. That made the car look even better. Sadly we do not have any photos of that version of the car.
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CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-55-merc-03The hood was shaved of all the trim and emblems and touched up with factory paint. 
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After these pictures in this article were taken, Richard took the car back to the Ayala’s, to have them lower the car as low as they could. The Ayala’s , re-worked the A-frames, tunneled the floor and inside drive shaft, modified the rear of the frame and springs. After that the car was really low, but still very drivable, and looked absolutely stunning. The Ayala’s also installed dual pipes on Richard’s Mercury

 

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-55-merc-01This photo was taken a little later, and the rear was already dropped a bit more, which looked really good. Richard was also a member of the Vagebonds of La Verne, just like me, and he had the plaques on his Merc.
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When I was just starting with the Memo Ortega stories here on the CCC I was thinking about Richard again, and about his Mercury, and wondered if he was still around. I asked around a bit and found out he was still around,about 20 miles from where I live now. So one day me and Terry decided to go for a drive and see if Richard was home. He sure was, at first he did not knew who I was, but I recognized him right away. After a minute or so he remembered me, and this big smile came on his face. he was really happy to see me, and Terry, and so were we to see him again. We stayed there for a couple of hours, talking the good old time, and about the cars of course. I told him I was still building cars, and really never stopped doing that, he could not believe it. I asked him if he had any photos of his ’55 Mercury. He went to the back and came back a little later with these three photos, “you can keep them” he said. “Wow, thank you Richard“. I told him I would use them for the CCC stories and show the people about this other Ayala car… I now had the proof.

CCC-richard-aguiree-memo-ortegaMemo Ortega on the right with his old friend Richard “Kayo” Aquirre who he had not seen in a long time.
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It shows that not all Customs the big shops did back then were full customs. The Ayala’s did a lot of these smaller job cars. It kept the money flowing, and the bills paid for Gil and Al Ayala.

CCC-ayala-richard-aguiree-vagabondsVagabonds of La Verne club plaque.
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Memo Ortega Stories Part 26

 

MEMO’S 51 MERCURY FINISHED

 

Memo Has been working on his personal 51 Mercury for many years. In the last couple of weeks Memo was finally able to get all the loose ends taken care of and apart from having a complete clean up and polish session… Memo’s 1951 Mercury can now be called Finished.

 
[box_light]Memo Ortega is a well known name in the SoCal Custom Car and LowRider Scene, but perhaps not as well known as it should be. Memo has been working on custom cars and Low Riders since the early 1950’s. He became good friends with Custom Car Icon Gil Ayala, and in the late 1950’s he even bought Gil’s famous 1942-46 Ford Coupe as a persona driver. Today, in 2015, 80 years young, Memo is still chopping tops, and any other custom car work you can think of from, his garage work-shop. Check out more of the Memo Ortega Stories in the Memo Ortega Files on the CCC[/box_light]
 
 

In the Memo Ortega Stories 20 and 21 we have already shared the early stages of Memo’s personal 1951 Mercury project. The car has been almost finished for quite some time. But there were a few things that still needed to be done. The most important and the things that in the end made it to take a while to get done were; new chrome on a lot of the parts and a new rear window. The chrome was a matter of saving money and get the parts done over a period of time Rafael H. Chrome from the Best Polishing and Chrome Shop in Pomona did an really great job on all of the Chrome parts on Memo’s Mercury. Memo has been using Rafael on several projects with great success. Each time when the new chrome came in Memo took his time to instal it on the car. In the meantime memo was keeping busy with other projects for his friends and clients.

 

CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-01Freshly plated rear bumper back from Rafael H. Chrome, looking good.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-02Installing the freshly plated rear bumper.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-03After installing the windshield and stainless it was time to get the Spotlights on. Memo had saved a set of real Appleton Spotlights for his Mercury. Feels good to have the rear thing on this Merc.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-04After struggling with the rear window for a long time, getting new glass, new rubber twice, Memo and a glass guy finally were able to get it to fit. Almost done now.
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When the car had been painted and Memo started to put the car back together is came out really nice… and one thing Memo did not like was the way the old 1951 Mercury rear window glass looked. Over time it had been scratched a lot, and during the build process this was not really that noticeable. But it just looked so much out of place on the finished high gloss painted car. So Memo decided to find a replacement rear window. It took him some time to find one and to get it installed right. After many attempts the rear window was finally in place and after that it was really a matter of finishing all the small details. This article shows the first snapshot Memo and his nephew Will took of the finished Mercury parked on the front lawn…. enjoy.

 
Memo would like to thank his first born grandson Will. Without his help he could not have gotten the merc to this final stage. It was their work collaboration that made the Mercury to what it is today.
 

CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-afin-05Modifying a set of Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps to fit the Merc’s wheels.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-01Saturday November 21, 2015, first time outside as a nearly completed car. All that is left are some final cleaning and a good polish job. Congratulations Memo.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-02Memo kept the stock 1951 Mercury taillights and even the chrome plated “louvered” panels on the rear quarters, and the both look so great on Memo’s Mercury. Notice how smooth the flush fitted skirts look.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-03The car looks already amazing… but will look even better after a good polishing. reflections show that all the hard work prepping the body really payed off.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-04Memo and Will Ortega with the Mercury on the front lawn.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-07One of those things that are still on the “to-do-but-can-wait-for-now-list” is to have the dash insert all cleaned up and send out to be replated. But for now its just perfect…. And Memo just wants to have this one on the road and start cruising it. 
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-08Interior in dark blue and white traditional style tuck & roll fits the deep dark blue painted body really well.
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CCC-memo-ortega-51-merc-fin-09The new scratch free tinted rear window looks really great on the car, and so does the upholstered package shelf.
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Go to Part 27 of the Memo Ortega stories.
Go back to Part 25.
 
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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… 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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Mercs that will appear at Pebble Beach

 

PEBBLE BEACH MERCURYS

 

Ken Gross has officially announced the 7 1949-1951 Mercurys that will be part of the Mercury display at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours.

 
August 16 is getting closer, and the team at the Pebble Beach Concours in charge of the 1949-1951 Classic Custom Mercury Gathering has announced the 7 Mercury’s that will be part of this special event. These 7 Historical Customs will look at their very best on the Pebble Beach lawn. Some have been completely restored some time ago, others are being freshened up, an one is currently being finished by a team who is working 7 days a week to get the car finished it time. The restoration team assured they will make the deadline of the show.

 

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The 7 Custom Mercury’s that will appear at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance:

  1. 1950 Mercury Coupe Wally Welch (Justin Mozart)
  2. 1949 Mercury Coupe Sam Barris (John Mumford)
  3. 1951 Mercury “Hardtop” Bob Hirohata (Jim McNiel)
  4. 1950 Mercury Convertible Ralph Testa (Bill Worden)
  5. 1949 Mercury Coupe James Dean (National Automotive Collection: Rebel Without a Cause)
  6. 1951 Mercury Convertible Fred Rowe (Sam Pack)
  7. 1950 Mercury Coupe Leo Lyons (Geoff Hacker and Rick D’Louhy)

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1. Wally Welch 1950 Mercury

Considered to be one of the first original chopped 1949-51 Mercury coupes restyled by Gil and Al Ayala. Conservative in styling with perfect proportions on the relatively mild chop. The angled forward front fenders with the DeSoto grille teeth give the car instant motion. First finished in lime gold by the Ayala brothers, later in 1953 redone by the Barris Kustom Shop for the original owner Wally Welch. Found and restored/modified by Joe Edie in the 1980, the car is now owned by Justin Mozart who had the car completely restored to the highest standard following the second version created by the Barris Kustom Shop. The Wally Welch Mercury was on the cover of the April 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. More on the Wally Welch Mercury can be read HERE.
 
CCC-wally-welch-mercury-pb-01Justin Mozart will bring the Wally Welch Ayala/Barris built 1950 Mercury.
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2. Sam Barris personal 1949 Mercury

Customized in late 1950, early 1951 by Car Customizer Sam Barris, on of the two Barris brothers of the famous Barris Kustoms Shop. Sam built this Mercury in his spare time after work hours, as his own personal driver. The Sam Barris Mercury is listed as one of the very first 1949-1951 Mercury coupe bodies to be chopped. (You can read more about the original chopped Mercury’s in this CCC-Article.) Sam chopped the top with straight pillars, original length rear quarter windows and shaved drip-rails. He removed the door dogleg on the doors creating a wonderful full fadeaway. He smoothed the whole body until the desired overall appearance was achieved.  The car was featured on the cover of December 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine and has played an very important role in how custom Mercs looks from then on. Sam did not enjoy the car for a very long period. Not to long after completion he sold the car, the car changed hands a few times, was updated with rounded hood corners, and door handle scoops amongst other things, and finally ended up at east coast of the US. Tommy Lee owned the car for a long time, before letting it go to the current caretaker John Mumford.  John Mumford had the Brizio Shop perform the flawless restoration.
 
CCC-sam-barris-49-mercury-pb-01The Sam Barris 1949 Mercury will be shown by current caretaker John Mumford.
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3. Bob Hirohata 1951 Mercury

Bob Hirohata worked part time at the Barris Kustoms Shop when he took his near new 1951 Mercury to the shop. He the Barris team to turn his Mercury into a wild award winning Custom Mercury. And that is what he got. The car was built in a record time of just two month to make a show deadline. George and Sam Barris went all out on the design of the Hirohata Mercury, the side window frames to make a semi hard-top where “borrowed” from the Nick Matranga 1940 Mercury. Theshape of the chopped top, and the new shape of the fender line all match the 1952 Buick boomerang side spear. The scoop on the rear quarters flows with these lines as well. At the front two 1951 Ford grilles were used,and at the back a set of 1952 Lincoln taillights was installed. Once the car was done it was painted sea-foam-green and dark organic green below the trim. The interior was handled by the Carson Top Shop and Bill Gaylords top, to make the show deadline. Bob used the car as daily transportation for quite some time, he even drove it from Los Angeles to the Indianapolis in 1953. After the car had appeared in the movie Running Wild the car shanged hands an started to have a bit of a rough life.

Current caretaker JimMcNiel found the car in the early 1960’s and has kept it ever since. He made it drivable to take him to high school and in the early 1990’s he was encouraged by his friend to finally start the full restoration of the Mercury. The car has been restored as much as possible as it came from the Barris shop. Junior Conway did the paint-job matched form original 1952 paint found on the car. The Hirohata Mercury is without doubt the most famous Custom and influential Custom Mercury of all time. If you want to read more about the Bob Hirohata Mercury, click HERE.

CCC-hirohata-merc-jim-sue-2011-01The Bob Hirohata Mercury owned by Jim and Sue McNiel. Here both are posing with the Mercury shortly before the car was entered for the Customs Then & Now exhibit at the 2011 GNRS in Pomona, Ca.
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4. Ralph Testa 1950 Mercury

Originally customized in the early 1950’s at the Barris Custom Shop for owner Ralph Testa. The Mercury’s windshield was chopped 3 inches and the Carson Top Shop created the perfectly shaped Padded. An 1951 Henry J grille, modified grille opening, 1949 Buick taillights, Buick side trim and deep purple paint make this a very classic custom. Ralph did not own the car very long and about a year after its completion the car could be seen cruising in Washington State. In the early 1990’s the car was completely restored by Bill Worden and his team of craftsman. Bill will install a set of authentic wide white wall tires especially for the Pebble BEach event. The tires will replace the white wall radials Bill initial installed so that he could enjoy the car on the road as much as he wants, but he feels like the car needs to look just like is used to do back in 1952, and the wide white wall bias-ply tires are part of that. If you want to read more about the Barris-built Ralph Testa Mercury click HERE.

CCC-ralph-testa-barris-merc-2011-01Bill Worden will bring his Barris Kustoms built Ralph Testa 1950 Mercury convertible.
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5. Rebel Without a Cause 1949 Mercury

The 1949 Mercury was mildly customized for its star turn in the movie Rebel Without a Cause, which premiered at New York’s Aster Theatre in October 1955, just a month after James Dean’s death. Both Dean’s influential performance and his hopped-up Mercury became legendary symbols of the disaffected youth culture of the era, and the car has become one of the most famous movie cars in history.
 
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CCC-james-dean-mercury-pb-01The James Dean Rebel Without a Cause 1949 Mercury will be on load from the National Automotive Collection.
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6. Fred Rowe 1951 Mercury

Fred Rowe of Los Angeles, California took his 1951 Mercury convertible to the Barris shop to have them restyle the car for him. The Barris shop chopped the windshield, shaved all the emblems and handles, modified the front of the hood, rounded the hood corners, frenshed the headlights and made a custom grill bar to fit the stock 1951 Mercury grille ends. At the back they installed 1950 Chrysler taillights low on the rear fenders. The Carson Top Shop created the nice flowing padded top and did the upholster in white and light gray.Barris painted the car in a stunning burgundy grape color. The car used fake wire wheel hubcaps for this version which where later replaced with real wire wheels. The car was finished in 1953 and featured on the cover of the August 1953 issue of Rod & Custom magazine. Later in 1954 the car was updated with a 1953 Buick boomerang side trim and a set of small scoops in the rear quarters, just in front of the side trim curve. This version of the Fred Rowe Mercury appeared in the movie Running Wild, the same movie that the Hirohata Mercury was also used for. The movie came out on December 1, 1955, and is available on DVD.

Fred owned the car till the early 1960’s, then the car changed hands a few times till it ended up in the hands of Bill Layman, from Pensilvania, many years later. Bill set out to restore the car as closely as possible to the Barris version used in the movie Running Wild. The car was painted black when Bill got the car, but he was able to find the original Barris color on one of the fender skirts, and the original base and top colors were matched from this. The car’s restoration was completed in 1989. A few years after completion Bill sold the car and the car became part of the Milhouse collection. In 2012 the Fred Rowe was sold to its current caretaker, who will show it at the Pebble Beach Concours.
 
CCC-fred-row-51-mercury-pb-01The Barris Kustoms built Fred Rowe 1951 Mercury convertible will be brought by the cars new owner Sam Pack.
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07 Leo Lyons 1950 Mercury 

The Leo Lyons 1950 Mercury was build over a period of several years. Leo found a way to get some support from the Ford Motor Company who enabled Leo to use a Mercury frame, and body panels. Leo also had the help of Custom Builders George and Sam Barris and had panels shaped for his “Ultra Modern Merc” by the famous California Metal Shaping company. The Mercury appeared on the cover of the February 1960 issue of Custom Cars magazine and its unique styling features was used in numerous other magazine in the 1960’s. Geoffrey Hacker bought the car in rather sad condition in 2013. Together with friend Rick D’Louhy, Geoff decided o restore the Mercury to its former 1960 cover appearance. A team of fine crafts man is now working around the clock to have the restoration finished in time for the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours.
 
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Geoff Hacker and Rick D’Louhy will bring the Leo Lyons 1950 Mercury. The restoration team is currently hard at work to get the car ready in time for the Pebble Beach event.
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These are the 7 1949-51 Mercury’s that will make up the Mercury gathering at the Pebble Beach Concours. However Ken is still on the lookout for other historic Mercurys. If you have any suggestions, or know more about the current whereabouts of an historic custom Mercury that would fit this event, then please contact us.
 
More info on the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance can be found on the Pebble Beach Concours site.

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2015 Pebble Beach Mercurys

 

2015 PEBBLE BEACH MERCURYS

 

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance creates a class of historic 1949-51 Mercury Customs for Sunday, August 16, 2015

 
 
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Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Once each year in August about 200 of the most prized collector cars and motorcycles in the world roll onto the fairway of what is often called the best finishing hole in golf — the famed eighteenth at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Tire meets turf and transformation occurs: the stage is set for one of the most competitive events in the automotive world. The occasion is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Originally a small social event paired with a road race through the pine and cypress forests of Pebble Beach, the Pebble Beach Concours has grown into the top-ranking collector car competition in the world. People from all over the globe come to compete in or simply witness and enjoy the Concours here at Pebble Beach.

The Concours is not a contest of speed, but of elegance. Automobiles and motorcycles are judged for their historical accuracy, their technical merit and their style—and the best garner reward and recognition.

The 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will feature the following following marques and special classes:

• Ferrari
• duPont
• Pope
• Designs by Carrozzeria Touring
• Postwar Cunninghams
• Mercury Customs
• British Prewar Sports Cars
• Japanese Motorcycles

 

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As in several years before Ken Gross, renowned automotive journalist, has been in charge of the organization of the bi-annual Hot Rod and Custom Car special theme events at the Pebble beach Concours d’Elegance. For 2015 the theme is 1949 – 1951 Mercury Customs. Historic Mercury Customs, built before 1960, that had major magazine coverage, back in the day. In addition to the Historic Mercury Class, they are planning a seminar about Mercury Customs at Pebble Beach for Thursday, August 13th at 3 PM. For this Seminar Ken invited Pat Ganahl, George Barris, Larry Erickson and Rik Hoving to be panelists. Ken Gross will be the moderator at this seminar.

Ken Gross has already invited several Mercury Custom owners to bring their Historic Custom Mercury’s to the event. At this point some of these on the list have been approved while others have not given their final ok. But over all is looking really good and the Mercury Class will be filled with some high quality Historic Custom Mercury’s that will be shown at this prestigious event.

 

Here is the list of confirmed entrants:

  • 1950 Mercury coupe Wally Welch (Justin Mozart)
  • 1949 Mercury coupe Sam Barris (John Mumford)
  • 1951 Mercury “Hardtop” Bob Hirohata (Jim McNiel)
  • 1950 Mercury convertible Ralph Testa (Bill Worden)
  • 1949 Mercury coupe James Dean (National Automotive Collection: Rebel Without a Cause)
  • 1951 Mercury convertible Fred Rowe (Sam Pack)
  • 1950 Mercury coupe Leo Lyons (Geoff Hacker and Rick D’Louhy)

All the historic Mercury’s have to be approved by the Pebble Beach Selection Committee which meets in March.
 
CCC-james-dean-mercury-pb-01The National Automotive Collection is sending the James Dean Rebel Without a Cause 1949 Mercury which will be used as “stock” reference to compare the historic customs to.
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CCC-sam-barris-mercury-pb-01John Mumford will bring the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury.
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CCC-wally-welch-mercury-pb-01Justin Mozart will bring the Wally Welch Ayala/Barris built 1950 Mercury.
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CCC-ralph-testa-mercury-pb-01Bill Worden will bring his Barris Kustoms built Ralph Testa 1950 Mercury convertible.
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CCC-leo-lyons-mercury-pb-01Geoff Hacker and Rick D’Louhy will bring the Leo Lyons 1950 Mercury which is currently being restored in Florida.
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CCC-bob-hirohata-mercury-pb-01The Bob Hirohata Mercury owned by Jim McNiel.
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CCC-fred-rowe-mercury-pb-01The Barris Kustoms built Fred Rowe 1951 Mercury convertible.
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Ken is still looking for some other historic Mercurys and would be really interested in finding out more on the old Louis Bettancourt, Johnny Zupan 1949 Mercury, the Jerry Quesnel 1949 Mercury, or…. If you have any suggestions, or know more about the current whereabouts of these or historic custom Mercury that would fit this event, then please contact us.
 
More info on the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance can be found on the Pebble Beach Concours site.

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We will keep the Custom Car Chronicle readers updated about this event. And report back when the list of Historic Custom Mercury’s is final, or when other news comes available that is worth to report. This will be a very special event with some of the most historic Custom Mercury’s on the perfect lawns of Pebble Beach with the ocean as back drop.
Last update June 9, 2015

 
 

 

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Wally Welch 1951 Pan Pacific winner

 

WALLY WELCH TAKES BEST CUSTOM WITH HIS AYALA 1950 MERCURY

 

The second Petersens Motorama show was held in November 1951. The show was open to the public from November 7 till the 11nd. Just like the previous year the show was held in the Architectural Icon: the Pan Pacific Auditorium.

 
(Original article from July-09-2013, updated June-08-2915)
Wally Welch entered his freshly finished 1950 Mercury in the second Petersen’s Motorama show. After enjoying his Ayala built 1941 Ford for several years, he brought a near new 1950 Mercury to the Ayala brothers to built a radical, yet subtile, custom for him. The car was chopped relatively mild, had its front fenders extended with frenshed headlights. Reshaped grille opening with 5 partly covered 1951 DeSoto grille teeth added. Gil Ayala painted Wally’s merc an brilliant lime green with gold powder added for extra sparkle.
 

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The car looked stunning in this color and it sets Wally’s Mercury apart from most other customs, which were painted with dark organic paints. It might very well be possible that the judges were very impressed with Gil’s brilliant color and his bold choice of painting a large, almost brand new car, with such a “In Your Face” kind of color. In any event Wally did win the Best Custom award at the 1951 Pan Pacific Petersen’s Autorama show. It is also told that the Ayala’s were trying to debut two Mercury’s at the show, and both were painted a shade of lime gold. The Wally Welch Merc was finished in time for the show, but the other one, the 1949 Mercury the shop was creating for Louis Bettancourt, had a lot more body work going on, and could not be finished in time for the show. It must have been a stunning experience to see two of these amazing smooth Custom Cars both painted and brilliant lime gold sitting side by side. Sadly that never happened. Louis 1949 Mercury was done for the 1952 Petersen Motorama Show.
 
CCC-gil-ayala-wally-welch-trophy-02Cropped section of the photo above shows the show card that was created for the show. Sadly it is not completely showing in the photo. One of the awards is being displayed on the coffee table that was used for display and where people could pic up an Gil’s Auto Body Workshop business card.
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_CCC-Wally_Welch_TrophiesWally’s daughter still has the original plaque which was part of the awards. Sorry for the poor photo which we took at the 2011 GNRS Customs Then & Now exhibit under very poor lighting conditions.
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CCC-gil-ayala-wally-welch-trophyGil Ayala posing with the Wally Welch 1950 Mercury for the photographers at the show.
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CCC_Motorama-1951-MovieThis rather fuzzy photo is a movie still from an 1951 movie made by Petersen Publishing/Trend Publishing about the 1951 Motorama. It shows the Wally Welch Mercury at the Pan Pacific Auditorium show, surrounded by the audience.
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CCC-gil-ayala-wally-welch-motorama-still-03Another still shows that there are two people standing next to the drivers side of the car on the inside of the roped section, talking to some people in the audience, could these be perhaps Gil and Al Ayala promoting Gil’s Auto Body works.
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CCC-gil-ayala-wally-welch-motorama-still-02This still from the movie was most likely taken before or after opening hours of the show.
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The complete Promo movie can be seen here, shared from Youtube.


 
 

Motorama_FloorPlanAbove we can see the locations were the Wally Welch Mercury was shown in the Pan Pacific building (the 1950 Mercury placed on the floor plan is not to scale). The House of Chrome, the accessory shop located in the small building on Gil Ayala’s Auto Body works had a booth at the show, No. 102.
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The Pan Pacific Auditorium was a landmark structure in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, California. It was located at 7600 West Beverly Boulevard, near the site of Gilmore Field, an early Los Angeles baseball venue predating the Dodger Stadium. The Auditorium stood within sight of both CBS Television City on the southeast corner of Beverly and Fairfax Avenue and the Farmers Market on the northeast corner of Third Street and Fairfax. For over 35 years it was the premiere location for indoor public events in Los Angeles. The facility was closed in 1972 and destroyed in a fire in 1989.

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Designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm Wurdeman and Becket – which later designed the Music Center and the space-age “Theme Building” at Los Angeles International Airport – the Pan Pacific Auditorium opened to a fanfare of Boy Scout bugles on May 18, 1935 for a 16-day model home exhibition. Noted as one of the finest examples of Streamline Moderne architecture in the United States, the green and white facade faced west, was 228 feet (69 m) long and had four stylized towers and flagpoles meant to evoke upswept aircraft fins. The widely known and much photographed facade belied a modest rectilinear wooden structure resembling an overgrown gymnasium inside and out. The auditorium sprawled across 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) and had seating for up to 6,000.(Source Wikipedia)

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Gil Ayala at the 1951 Roadster Show

 

GIL AYALA AT THE 1951 ROADSTER SHOW

 

Lynn Ayala recently share some really great historic Custom Car memorabilia from her dad. Gil Ayala entered the Ayala built 1940 Mercury at the 1951 National Roadster show in Oakland. Lynn’s mother went there with Gil and kept some souvenirs from that trip.



Gil Ayala’s Gil Auto Body Works at Olympic Blvd. in East Los Angeles has turned out a huge number of fantastic Custom Cars in the 1940’s and 1950’s and even long after that. Together with Harry Westergard, Jimmy Summers, Barris Kustoms and a few more they set the style in the early days of Customizing. Gil was never really much into promoting his work. His shop was relatively small, and he always had plenty of work. His advertising was the great work he did, and new customers would come in after seeing other clients Custom Cars. This is one of the reasons that there has not much been published about the Ayala Shop… at least not as much as for instance on the Barris Kustom Shop. It is also a reason why there are relatively few photos or other material left from the Ayala shop, or their cars.


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So each time we do find out more about the history of Gil and Al Ayala the Custom Car enthusiasts from all over the world get excited. The Ayala family has been sharing some great material with us and others over the past decade or so, and now Lynn Ayala is sharing more material. Lynn is actually working on something very special about the her father and the custom car world… It is not ready yet, but when the time comes it will be ready we sure will inform you about it here on the Custom Car Chronicle.


CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-mt-portretGil’s 1940 Mercury from the cover of the November 1950 Motor Trend magazine. The car was painted jet-black at this point. Inset photo is Gil Ayala.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-09I found this old postcard of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay bridge online.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-coversGil’s 1940 Mercury appeared twice on the Motor Trend magazine cover. First time as finished in yet-black on the November 1950 cover, and still unfinished and in primer on the October 1951 cover.
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The memorabilia Lynn shared this time are some scrapbook samples of the trip Gil Ayala and his wife  took to the National Roadster Show in 1951. Gil showed the 1940 Mercury that he had originally built for himself, but later sold to Richard J. Stickley from Hollywood, California. They showed the car at the Oakland Exposition Building show for the new owner. And they did very well, winning the Customs class with the car. After Gil had sold his 1940 Mercury he repainted the car in Devil Maroon for the Richard J. Stickley.


Note from Lynn

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Not only did my mom keep EVERYTHING from being alongside my dad & all his automotive adventures…..
she wrote down details as well.

Sometimes actually on the souvenirs lol.

These are from the Oakland Roadster Show in 1951 (now the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona) where he took 1st place!

I love how she writes that they were at Bob’s Big Boy from 1am-2am after landing at Burbank Airport. She’s still so proud of him & so am I.

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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-01Gil Ayala’s Parking pass. 
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-02Gil Ayala’s door pass for the National Roadster show.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-03This is the backside of the Door Pass where Gil’s wife wrote: Oakland Roadster show – Oakland Exposition Bldg. Gil won 1st place with his 1940 Mercury (Devil Maroon) No. 406 2/24/26/ ’51 door Pass.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-05 CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-04The Bob’s Big Boy match book where Gil and his wife had lunch after landing at the Burbank airport, on their way home.  1-am, February 26, 1951 after landing at Burbank Airport.
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CCC-oakland-exposition-building-01Photo from the Exposition Building where the National Roadster show was held. This photo is not from 1951 though.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-07From Ron Brook’s Collection comes this scan of the 1951 National Roadster show program showing Gil’s 1940 Mercury.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-06The short description on the 1940 Mercury on the show program mentions that the dash was painted purple with cream, but not that the car was now painted “Devil Maroon” as we can read it in the note on the door pass.
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CCC-national-roadster-show-1951-articleHot Rod Mechanics article on the 1951 Oakland Roadster show, a small photo of Gil’s 1940 Mercury appeared in the article.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-11The photo used in the Hot Rod Mechanics article is the only “good” photo we have been able to find of Gil’s 1940 Mercury at the 1951 Nations Roadster show.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-08In one other overview photo we can also spot the No. 406, 1940 Mercury at the show. Sadly the photo is a bit blurry and pretty dark.
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CCC-gil-ayala-40-merc-oakland-12One more photo of the 1951 National Roadster show that shows Gil’s 1940 Mercury is this one focusing on the Sam Barris 1949 Mercury. Parked behind Sam’s Mercury is Gil’s car.
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Sadly Gil’s, or actually Richard J. Stickley’s 1940 Mercury vanished after the 1951 National Roadster show. We have not been able to find any information about the car after it appeared in the 1951 show. If you know anything more about Gil’s old 1940 Mercury, what happened to it after 1951, or if it is still around today hiding away in a barn, or garage. Please let us know, Email Rik. We would love to find out what happened to the car.


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