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Sunday, June 6, 2010

1953 Mercury Monterey Custom 350/350 - Hot Rod For Sale


The coolest customs are the ones where you can''t quite tell what was modified and what remains untouched. This 1953 Mercury is an excellent example especially since the ''53 Mercurys were already pretty cool-looking cars with a lot of interesting features that were just waiting for a customizer to come along and tweak them. Just finished a few weeks ago this super clean Mercury coupe was built to drive and show not to sit in some collection gathering dust. A lot of traditional tricks have been employed explained by terms like frenched and molded and nosed and decked. The original Mercury shape is still there and 90% of the original trim too leaving anyone but a real expert wondering how much is factory styling and how much is the customizer''s art-I like that. The body and paint are excellent worthy of a custom like this. Obviously the headlights have been frenched into the fenders and out back a power antenna pokes up through its own hole carved into the rear deck for a traditional custom touch. The roof is at the original height no chopping here and the flanks are sculpted exactly the way Mercury stylists wanted them in 1953. Check out the way the rear fenders bulge subtly! The body panels line up nicely and gaps are even all hallmarks of the hot rodder''s art. The paint is a dark purple that looks black at night but really comes alive in the daylight and it will remain timeless since it isn''t adorned with any cool for the moment graphics that will look dated in a few years-this is a custom you can enjoy for decades without feeling like you''re wearing bell bottoms and a headband. The paint was expertly applied and rubbed out to a glossy finish that is bereft of any orange peel and I''m guessing that it is mostly Henry steel underneath since there are no replacement or patch panels available for these cars-original stuff is all there is. Up front it looks awfully unique but if you compare this car to a stock ''53 Merc you''ll see that the only changes are that the teeth and bullets were removed from the grille and the lower half of the front bumper was painted body color instead of chromed. The hood scoop lost its chrome trim and was made functional feeding cool air into the engine compartment but otherwise matches the factory look. The trim on the sides was also removed and the mounting holes filled but I like the scalloped stainless trim that was retained on the C-pillar as well as the stainless that runs along the window sills. Out back yes that''s the original rear bumper and taillights which look like they''ve been modified but have merely been restored to original condition. The trick to a great custom is knowing what to remove and what to keep and the builders on this car chose well. Powering this purple cruiser is a proven 350 cubic inch FB385 GM crate motor generating 435 horsepower. It''s topped by an Edelbrock 800 CFM 4-barrel carburetor and lights the fires using a GM HEI distributor. The iron block was bathed in matching purple paint while the aluminum heads and intake proudly remain raw aluminum to show them off. Polished valve covers and a ball-milled aluminum air cleaner provide some dress-up as do the ceramic coated headers. Speaking of purple paint it was liberally applied to many of the underhood components beyond the engine block including the radiator tanks electric cooling fan alternator and even the battery! The result is a clean functional powerful engine that looks as good as it runs. Backing up the engine is a TH350 3-speed automatic transmission feeding a 9-inch Ford rear with 3.50 gears for easy cruising and great acceleration. The suspension is by Air Ride and features a Fatman Fabrications front subframe and tubular A-arms in front and a 4-link out back (each corner is individually controlled by switches under the dash). Braking is compliments of late model discs up front and drums out back for a reliable easy-to-service package. The frame and floors have been finished to near show levels but you won''t be afraid to drive this car which is the builder''s intent. Drive it enjoy it shine it up if you want but don''t be afraid to hammer down the road when the urge grips you. The interior is a spectacular mixture of custom and original and again the original stuff is so cool you can''t quite tell where the customizer worked his magic. The dash pod and gauges are believe it or not 100% factory. The only addition is an AutoMeter tach in its own purple-painted pod to the left of the original speedometer cluster. The switch gear has been upgraded with billet pieces and the original radio lives in the dashboard for show. The glove box has been welded up and smoothed but you would never know it and the original clock still ticks in the dash. Those two gauges and four switches under the dash are the controls for the air suspension and if you look closely you''ll see that each gauge has two needles one for each side of the car. The stereo is mounted in the trunk and is operated via a remote that uses an infrared repeater attached to the air suspension gauge cluster. How cool is that? The seats and door panels are original reupholstered in gray leather and vinyl for a traditional look and modern comfort. The original window cranks and handles are gone replaced by billet pieces but the rest of the original trim is still present. The steering wheel is a matching leather-wrapped LeCarra piece and a stand-alone Lokar shifter handles gear selections. The cut pile carpet is well installed and overhead the headliner is taut and blemish-free.And speaking of the trunk it has been completely upholstered to match the interior with carpet on the sides and vinyl over the center section which is removable to access the fuel cell. Access panels put the entertainment system and Air Ride system within easy reach. Receipts? We got ''em just like we do with all the best custom rods we get at Best of Show. We also have construction photos so you can see how this beautiful car came together. The crate motor itself comes with a thick folder full of helpful information for service modification and operation. I really like this car-deceptively simple with well-chosen and expertly applied modifications to take it in a fresh direction. It''s rock-solid reliable with a proven powertrain and has been done to a very high standard that will get attention from judges and fans alike. It''s nice but not so nice you''re afraid to drive it and has been built and equipped for the road. Pop in a few CDs grab your coolest shades and climb behind the wheel with your arm hanging out the window just like the old school guys used to do it. Just be prepared for all the people swerving closer to get a better look at your killer car. For sheer cool points this Merc is hard to beat.


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  1. Greetings. Very first I wish to say that I actually like your blog, just observed it the past week but I’ve been following it constantly since then.

  2. Wonderful article about the Mercury. These old cars have something that you don't see in modern cars.

  3. A classic with a great air ride suspension. The combination of which amazes me.