Ok, don’t send us hate mail, we know the Hirohata Mercury is a ’51 model, but there’s no denying that the ’49 through ‘51 Mercury is one of the most recognizable cars in the world. It ranks right up there, along with a 1932 Ford and a 1957 Chevy.
For our history lesson on this icon, in 1949 there were four basic body styles produced: a four-door sedan, a two-door sedan (and often referred to as a sport coupe), the convertible and a wood and metal bodied station wagon. To make all of us yearn for the good old days, prices began at $1,979 for the two-door sedan, and rose to $2,716 for the wagon. Don’t you wish you could find one for that price today? If you did, what you’d likely get would be what was left after it had been at the bottom of a lake for 50 or so years. Which would probably be not much.
A total of 301,302 Mercury’s were produced for the 1949 model year. Of that, only 8,044 (according to the Classic Car Database) were station wagons. That fact alone makes them quite rare. However, the wagon featured here was not one of those 8,044 produced by Mercury, believe it or not, this one actually rolled of the assembly line as a sport coupe, and we’ll have more on that in a minute.
Fortunately, Dave had owned several other Mercury’s before he tackled this one, so he knew the inner workings of the model. This Mercury is not a kit car, it was built the old fashioned way –scouring the junk yards for parts and putting them together by hand in a pleasing way.
Adding The Sheetmetal
First he needed a newer chassis for all the metal he was going to add. The built chassis consists of a ’79 Monte Carlo clip with 2.5-inch dropped spindles, air bags, a 1.25-inch sway bar, and Wilwood disc brakes. Around back, a nine-inch Ford with wagon drum brakes was used. A GM crate engine of 355 cubic-inches and a 700 R-4 automatic transmission was set on the mounts after an Olds faux valve covers and a ’53 Cadillac air cleaner were added.
Braces were added to support the length of the top and the ’56 Ford wagon side windows were chopped 4.5-inches to match the new angled front pillars. The Merc then needed new quarters in order to match up to the Ford side windows so Dave hand-built the quarters and added ’52 Mercury taillights to them.
Dave hand built the rear interior quarter panels out of aluminum and had them covered in a tuck n’ roll pattern using the same Kalfskin leather. Larry Cummings of Countryside Upholstery in Humboldt, Nebraska did the headliner, carpeting and the interior. The stainless “rub strips” on the interior floor are courtesy of the ’56 Ford wagon and add a finished look to the rear of the Mercury.
One thing is certain. The 1949, 1950 and 1951 Mercurys were hot when they were new, and remain a must have for any serious collection, no matter which model is desired.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Roger Jetter.