The Corpus Christi Old Car Museum Auction

Lot 164
1951 Mercury Custom

Selling on Saturday

1951 Mercury Custom


• Awesome radical custom built by “The Leadslinger,” Bill Hines
• Paint and pinstriping by famed custom painter, Larry Watson
• Fabulous modern interpretation of the archetypal 1951 Mercury custom
• Modern running gear, beautifully trimmed interior, period custom touches

350 cid GM small-block V-8 engine, automatic transmission, independent front suspension and live rear axle, power-assisted four-wheel hydraulic brakes; wheelbase: 118"

Little did Ford Motor Company executives realize that the soon-to-be released 1949-51 Mercury models would almost instantly become a favorite of customizers everywhere. Californians, especially Sam Barris, first discovered how this Mercury’s ideal proportions and modern styling lent themselves so well to custom tweaks. James Dean later drove a black 1949 Mercury in “Rebel Without a Cause” that was nosed, decked, and lowered. Custom Mercs were quite common, but following the film, the “lost generation” of 1950s teenagers embraced the 1949-1951 Mercury models as a bold symbol of the times.

This stunning 1951 Mercury custom perfectly captures the feel of this quintessential American artform. It was built by renowned Long Beach, California customizer Bill Hines. Known as “The Leadslinger,” Hines was widely renowned as the master of his chosen craft, particularly in the almost lost art of leadwork. Later in his career, Hines also became known as “The Godfather of Hydraulics,” for his pioneering work in adapting adjustable-height suspension to custom cars and lowriders. This 1951 Mercury was completed during the mid-1990s while Mr. Hines was in his seventies, but he continued to ply his trade until eventually passing away aged 94 in 2016.

Virtually no surface of this fabulous radically customized ‘51 Mercury was left untouched by Hines, with the roof chopped, body smoothed, bumpers, grille and the head- and tail lights modified to visual perfection. Within the fully detailed engine compartment resides all modern running gear including a fully dressed small-block Chevy V-8 engine featuring chrome and polished aluminum goodies, including a 1950s Cadillac twin-inlet air cleaner featuring custom-painted images of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Supporting items include an automatic transmission, power steering, modern power-assisted dual-circuit brakes and a great-sounding dual exhaust system.

The striking paintwork was applied by none other than customizing legend Larry Watson, with this Mercury the 55th car he painted during 1995. The fully customized interior is an awesome blend of old and new, trimmed in two-tone pleated upholstery and equipped with a power-adjustable split front bench seat, tilt steering column, California Custom billet wheel, power windows, nostalgic marbled control knobs and air-conditioning with under-dash vents and late-model R134 compressor. Period style twin spot lights, full Cadillac “Sombrero” wheel covers, and wide whitewalls round out this awesome Mercury. Customized by “The Leadslinger” himself and painted by Larry Watson, it remains outstanding throughout and stands ready to celebrate its legendary builders.

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