Pick of the Day: 1974 Mercury Capri

The Capri was made by Ford of Germany and sold in the U.S. as a Mercury
The Capri was made by Ford of Germany and sold in the U.S. as a Mercury

The Mercury Capri coupe of 1970-77 is pretty much a forgotten classic that nonetheless was quite popular in its day. The captive import built by Ford in Cologne, Germany, and sold in the U.S. by Mercury dealers, was favored by those who appreciated its European styling and sporty handling. But these days, they are rarely seen anyplace.

The Pick of the Day is a 1974 Mercury Capri described by its private seller as a “rare, exceptional vehicle.” These were fun cars to drive when powered by the 105-horsepower 2.8-liter V6, as this one is, and four-speed manual transmission. Continue reading

Vintage racers, fans swarm to Monterey for Rolex Reunion

1964 Mercury Comet Caliente | Bonhams photos
1964 Mercury Comet Caliente | Bonhams photos

Rolo Malschafsky has always enjoyed the sport of racing – “I’ve done it all my life,” he said, “work permitting.” This year, Malschafsky, local to the Monterey area, plans to take on the legendary Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 17-20, behind the wheel of his 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente hardtop coupe.

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Pick of the Day: 1950 Mercury custom show car

Ultra Modern Merc's styling is somewhat polarizing
Ultra Modern Merc took nine years for its builder to complete

The story of the Ultra Modern Merc is one of the most fascinating tales of custom-car building during the 1950s. It tells of how a young, obsessed novice in Southern California enlisted the help of the legendary George and Sam Barris –- who taught him welding, metal shaping and show-car promotion -– and secured backing from the Ford Motor Co. to build his dream car over the course of nine years.

The young builder was Leo Lyons, who was 20 when his endeavor started in 1950. His creation was completed in 1959, and it went on to become a well-regarded show winner and magazine cover car.

Leo Lyons learned to shape metal ti build  his Merc
Leo Lyons learned to shape metal to build his Merc

Considered to be the last of the great 1950s Mercury builds, the Ultra Modern Merc is the Pick of the Day, advertising on ClassicCars.com simply as a 1950 Mercury custom. Offered by a dealer in Sarasota, Florida, the remarkable automobile is also one of the most interesting classic car “barn finds.”

After falling into obscurity for decades, it was rescued in 2013 by Geoffrey Hacker, an author and automotive historian who has dedicated his life to finding and rescuing hand-built custom cars of the post-war era as head of his Forgotten Fiberglass project. Hacker reunited the Merc with Lyons in 2014, shortly before the builder’s passing.

Since Hacker and other like-minded enthusiasts restored the Merc, it has appeared at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in a class for custom Mercurys, and at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours in a class of unique private-build prototypes that was organized by Hacker.

The styling is evocative but polarizing
The styling is evocative but polarizing

“This car is the most radically customized ’49-51 Ccstom Mercury built in-period, and has been recognized as the last significant custom Mercury built in the ’50s,” the seller notes in the ad description.

Lyons originally intended the Merc to be the prototype of a run of identical specials built in period. But by the time the car was finished, interest in producing any more of them had waned.

Other than the chassis, there’s very little Mercury remaining in the Ultra Modern Merc, limited pretty much to small sections of bodywork, the windshield, wipers and exterior door handles.

Most of the body was hand-formed by Lyons, with the hood, doors and roof made by the famed fabricators at California Metal Shaping. The 322cid V8 engine, Dynaflow transmission, headlight rims and Dagmar bumpers came from Buick; hubcaps from Studebaker; and rear trim from Pontiac.

The interior was entirely handmade with extensive rolled-and-pleated seats, dash and panels, and Studebaker gauges and steering-wheel parts from Ford – the steering-wheel center displays the Ford emblem.

The bright interior is uniquely detailed
The bright interior is uniquely detailed

The unique piece of Southern California custom-car history looks in the photos to be in restored condition, although there is no mention in the ad of whether it runs or its roadworthiness. Not that you’d be likely to go joy riding in this Merc; it belongs on the show field or in a museum.

The seller has put an asking price of $159,900 on this unusual find. Whether you favor or fault the innovative styling, this one-man’s-vision creation from the heyday of car customizing is deserving of respect and preservation.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Pick of the Day: 1970 Mercury Cougar

1970 Mercury Cougar was gift from Ford to civil rights leader Whitney J. Young Jr.
1970 Mercury Cougar was gift from Ford to civil rights leader Whitney J. Young Jr.

But this isn’t just any 1970 Mercury Cougar. It formerly was owned by civil rights leader Whitney J. Young Jr., a gift from the Ford Motor Company and owned by the Young family until sold five years ago at  Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1969 Mercury Cougar

The Cougar has been enhanced with performance upgrades
The Cougar has been enhanced with performance upgrades

Mercury Cougar was Ford Mustang’s higher-achieving but less-successful sibling. Basically, it was a decked-out Mustang with suitable luxury trim and signature features – including hideaway headlights and sequential rear turn signals – for the more-upscale Mercury customers.

Cougar never reached Mustang’s level of sales, nor its iconic image, not by a long shot, which makes it rarer than the ubiquitous Ford pony cars, although generally not as valuable nor as high profile. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1953 Mercury Monterey convertible

The Mercury convertible would make for a fine summer-evening cruiser
The Mercury convertible would make for a fine summer-evening cruiser

The Pick of the Day is the kind of stylish Mercury that comes to mind when you hear, “Crazy ‘bout a Mercury/Lord I’m crazy ‘bout a Mercury/I’m gonna buy me a Mercury/And cruise it up and down the road.”

The pale-yellow 1953 Mercury Monterey convertible advertised on ClassicCars.com is a “solid Southern California car” with a still-shiny older repaint, the Houston-based dealer says. The stylish ragtop comes complete with full wheel covers, fender skirts and wide-whitewall tires for a period look that still resonates today. Continue reading

Iconic California customs set for HVA displays in Washington

The McGee Roadster is the embodiment of early hot rod design | Historic Vehicle Association photos
The McGee Roadster is the pure embodiment of early hot rod design | Historic Vehicle Association photos

Three iconic pieces of California custom-car culture take center stage next month on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as the Historic Vehicle Association displays the latest vehicles to be commemorated and recorded in the HVA National Historic Vehicle Register and archived in the U.S. Library of Congress.

The privately owned cars will be shown at separate times during the month in the HVA glass case on the walkway between the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art for passersby to see and admire. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler

The Cyclone Spoiler was a homologation car to allow the model to compete in NASCAR
The Cyclone Spoiler was a homologation car to allow the model to compete in NASCAR

Continuing my NASCAR theme from last week, the Pick of the Day is a NASCAR homologation car, a 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler in Cale Yarborough colors.

The Cyclone Spoiler and the later long-nosed Spoiler II were cars that Ford Motor Company built in order to go racing. They were special-bodied cars with few options from the aero era of NASCAR. The Cyclone Spoiler II was constructed to compete with the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird, cars that were dominant in the series, especially on super speedways such as Daytona and Talladega. Continue reading

My Classic Car: ML’s historic 1970 Mercury Cougar

1970 Mercury Cougar originally owned by civil rights pioneer Whitney Young Jr.
1970 Mercury Cougar originally owned by civil rights pioneer Whitney Young Jr.

This historic vehicle was purchased at a Barrett-Jackson Auction, where it was the Hagerty Fantasy Car Bid of the Day. Prior to purchase it was a one-family car. given to Whitney J. Young, Jr., civil rights leader and adviser to several presidents by the Ford Motor Company. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7

The Mercury Cougar has been repainted in its original shade of dark metallic green
The Mercury Cougar has been repainted in its original shade of dark metallic green

At first glance, this great-looking 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 coupe seemed like the kind of low-mileage survivor that spent most of its life hanging out in the garage. A one-owner Southern California car, the Pick of the Day is actually testament to the power of good, persistent care and maintenance in keeping a vehicle like new.

As I read the lengthy description provided by the Santa Monica, California, dealer on ClassicCars.com, it seemed to follow the familiar route of collector cars that have been barely driven and as a result have remained in pristine condition. But I could feel my eyes bug out when I read what’s on the odometer: 221,980 miles! Continue reading