Better-than-Stock – Brian Metcalf’s ’39 Mercury Coupe
Restoration purists like to warn hot rodders that when you customize a car, you can decrease its value and potential pool of buyers. Of course, that depends on the car and the modifications. There are many cars and trucks that can actually be more attractive to more buyers – and attract more money – when customized correctly.
Brian Metcalf’s chopped ’39 Mercury is one of those cars. Its modifications are done in a classic custom style that has enduring appeal among enthusiasts. It’s those modifications that attracted Brian when he bought the completed custom a year and a half ago. “I wanted a taildragger with the West Coast sort of look,” he said. That’s exactly what he got.
Though the Merc was in Southern California when Brian found it in an online ad, it was built more than a decade ago in Florida by previous owner Larry Pyzik. Larry started with a clean original Mercury coupe and enlisted his friend Len Monigold to help administer the definitive top chop – a 4-inch slice that also eliminated the B-pillars. Other more subtle modifications included a shaved and peaked hood, shaved handles and deck lid, smooth running boards, and rear fender skirts. A pair of ’41 Mercury taillights also found its way on the rear. Charles Crenshaw gets credit for the custom-mixed midnight blue metallic paint.
The modifications went beyond cosmetics. The original Mercury frame was boxed, and a Fatman Mustang II-style independent suspension was installed up front. A Ford 8-inch rearend was installed on parallel leaf springs in back, with disc brakes both front and rear. The chassis rolls on Diamond Back Classic wide whitewalls wrapped around steel wheels with ’57 Cadillac hubcaps.
It’s nice to see a vintage engine in an old-style custom, and the Merc delivers with a mid-’60s 401c.i. Buick Nailhead V8. It’s fed by a single four barrel on an aluminum intake, backed by a TH400 automatic transmission, and dressed up with finned valve covers and a Cadillac-style air cleaner. A Walker radiator keeps things cool.
The interior was treated to period-style white vinyl upholstery with blue tuck ’n roll inserts. The Merc dash was updated with white-face VDO gauges and a ’59 Impala wheel on top of a tilt steering column, while a Vintage Air system was added to keep things comfortable.
Brian says he’s happy with the purchase and has been enjoying the Merc the past couple of seasons. Not only does it have a classic custom look, but it’s a great driver, too. “The cruise works, the air’s great, it’s got a great Bluetooth system,” Brian says. Try getting any of those features in a stock ’39 Mercury!
Photos by John Jackson & Damon Lee