255 cubic inch GB V8
3-speed manual transmission
Less that 200 miles on the restoration
When it comes to ‘50s cruisers, Chevrolet definitely isn’t the only shop in town. While the hallowed Bel Air might be the best known car of all time, the graceful Mercury Eight often provides more substance, more style and more exclusivity. From chopped flame-throwers to classy museum fodder, lead sled Mercs offer something for every set of priorities. And every once in a while a solid, unmolested classic, like this jaw dropping convertible, hits our RK Motors Charlotte showroom and renews our focus on culture and sophistication. With a storied flathead, 3-speed manual transmission and clean restoration that’s seen less than 200 miles of road time, this car is more than just eye candy. And if you’re the kind of buyer who’s searching for a stunning, all-steel hot rod, we can’t think of anything that offers more style for the money!
The beneficiary of a detailed, frame-off restoration, this slick sled was completely disassembled, carefully finessed and expertly rebuilt to the absolute highest standards. As you can tell from our photos, the car retains all of its original proportions, resulting in a balanced profile that’s exclusive to unaltered Detroit steel. Take a close look at that profile and you’ll find buttery surfaces that maintained a solid façade for close to 64 years. That façade created a super clean fuselage that’s been laboriously block-sanded and covered in a stunning coat of Jet Black paint. That glossy pigment stays vibrant thanks to a tough layer of clear that’s been carefully buffed to a crowd pleasing shine. And today, this Mercury rolls as one excellent classic with no filler, no bulges, no questionable seams and nothing that would otherwise demerit its exhaustive restoration.
Initially released in 1949, the styling of the Eight was successful in both ending the monotony of warmed-over pre-war designs and differentiating the brand from its comparable Ford cousin: a trick that spelled instant sales success. Those newfound sales made the car immensely popular with customizers, and the first lead sled, built by Sam Barris, pioneered what would become hot rodding’s definitive early ‘50s kustom. At the front of this drop-top, a heavy bumper props large chrome bullets in front of a convex, wraparound grille, clear parking lamps and chrome-trimmed halogen headlights. At the sides of that grille, straight, “MERCURY” branded trim spears parallel dent-free rocker moldings and optional fender skirts. Above those spears, a topped and crested hood flows to framed glass that’s flanked by small mirrors, standard stainless wipers and traditional chrome door handles. And at the back of the car, a power cloth roof folds behind a second Mercury crest, ‘blue dot’ tail lights and a second bulleted bumper that’s aligned with textured rock guards.
If Henry Ford perfected one aspect of his automobiles, it was the Ford V8. Introduced in 1932 as a durable, torque-rich competitor to more expensive and labor-intensive 8-cylinders, the ‘flatty’ has established an unmatched reputation as the go-to mill for classic and kustom car enthusiasts. And, in keeping with tradition, this stellar Merc is powered by a correct, 255 cubic inch BG block. Spinning smooth 6.8 to 1 compression into 112 horsepower and 206 lb./ft. of torque, the throaty engine growls with the help of a roster of vintage parts. Air enters through a Satin Black oil bath cleaner and, juiced by a small carburetor, exits through correct, cast iron exhaust manifolds. Pliable belts turn a traditional generator while a beefy radiator cycles water through FoMoCo hoses and tight screw clamps. Aesthetically, the mill, which perches a Satin Black oil canister on 24-stud heads, has been painted a correct green hue. Cool details like an AC fuel pump, a 6-volt battery and correct horns add enough shine to sit at the show. And overall, this classic’s body-matched engine bay is a charming and 100% functional step back into a much simpler, and some would say better, period of American automotive history.
Take a look under this solid cruiser and you’ll find a fully sorted chassis that, despite its road-ready mechanicals, is exceptionally clean and displays very few signs of wear. While its body was off and being refinished, this Mercury’s factory bones were treated to an equally comprehensive makeover, and, given their railroad trestle level of engineering, are probably one of the main reasons the sled rides so smoothly. Satin Black floors make a suitable backdrop for a Satin Black frame and factory-accurate suspension. A correct, 3-speed manual transmission sends power to a familiar Ford axle. In front of that drivetrain, control arms and coil springs remain just as they looked back in 1951. And the same holds true behind that drivetrain, where leaf springs and the aforementioned pumpkin add integrity and grip. 4-wheel drum brakes are a welcome addition and big performance upgrade. There’s a quiet, single-pipe exhaust system. And everything rides on bright red wheels that spin fresh 215/75R15 Coker Classic whitewalls around slim trim rings and mirrored center caps.
Inside this exclusive Merc, a tasteful Black and Red interior appears much more upscale than its age would suggest. Broad leather seats, which are both soft and supportive, ride on pristine carpet that’s framed by attractive, “M” branded sills. In front of those seats, a glossy, “M” branded dash anchors clear gauges and a correct Hi Fidelity radio in stylish chrome trim. At the sides of that dash, coved door panels hang small power window switches above polished stainless trim and correct chrome handles. In front of the driver, an artful Mercury steering wheel spins a full horn ring around a long chrome shifter. And behind the passenger’s, a fully restored trunk features a full-size spare tire.
This exceptionally clean Mercury is one of the coolest cruisers on the planet! Unmolested and correct, it shines as a classy hot rod which sets itself apart from the sea of chopped, diced, smothered and covered sleds at your local Goodguys event. Solid, early ‘50s metal doesn’t come along too often, and given the attention it draws in our showroom, it certainly won’t last long!