Custom Styling of the early-50s: Pinkee's 1947 Mercury
Continuing DrivingLine’s monthly series on Customs, we’re moving on from the mild example of Fred’s 1935 Ford of the ‘40s to Pinkee’s wild 1947 Mercury - a fine example of early-1950s restyling. A well-executed custom takes a lot of thought, careful planning, design, and skilled metalwork. This example being heavily modified, it took a healthy dose of all of those components. Every panel has had some sort of work done to it, although it may not appear that way. As we explained in the last story, the untrained eye may not notice customizations right off the bat. Looking at the example below, you can see an original 1947 Mercury ad which should demonstrate some obvious examples – the chop and grill to start with. Slightly more nuanced are the fade-away fenders. Notice how the ad shows the fenders dropping off before the door, fade away fenders extend that body line all the way to the rear. One of the first production cars to feature production fade-away fenders was the 1942 Buick Roadmaster. Most cars of the time were fat fendered, and the continuous sloping line of the fade-away added a graceful, flowing appearance. One of the first known custom fade-away jobs is Butler Rugard’s 1940 Mercury that was restyled by Harry Westerguard right off the lot in 1940 (pictured above, right.) Nobody knows where Harry and Butler got the idea for the fade-away, but Westerguard was a pioneer of his time. In the ‘50s the fade-away was commonly done by the Barris brothers and is rising to the surface again in today’s custom trends. Along with the fade-aways, another major modification is the front grill. The stock Merc grill was an abomination in my opinion, so the choice to swap it for a period-correct 1948 Cadillac grill is a smart choice by Pinkee. While the grill looks to be a perfect fit now, it took a ton of sheetmetal work before it was right. The front end had to be reworked to flow correctly into the hood, and Pinkee pulled it off perfectly. Moving to the rear, the original bodylines in the fenders had to be pulled out and reworked while molding the fenders to the body. At the bottom, the car was tubed for a slightly lower stance and flared out edge – this helps create that floating appearance that’s so cool. Some of the little things that stand out to me are incorporating the taillights into the bumper guards and the molded splash aprons – it’s a combination of these smaller aspects that add to the polished end result. While Pinkee still has some work to do to complete this car, he’s out having fun with it already – one of the most important parts of owning a cool car, driving it. We can’t wait to see it in a fully-finished state, until then, check back next week for another chapter to DrivingLine’s series on custom styles.