Jackie Blue – Mitch Gustafson’s ’51 Merc
As one of four kids growing up with a single mom, Mitch Gustafson says he learned at an early age how to uses his hands. He also learned how to dream. When he was younger, he’d stop by a local body shop and stare in at an in-progress ’51 Mercury custom project. Little did he know that 20-plus years later, he would own the shop – and the ’51 Merc!
Now known as Hollywood Auto Body, the shop is also where Mitch learned the auto body trade, plus custom bodywork and paint. His skills are on display on this low-slung custom, which he finished with help from J.R. Rollin and Isai Mendoza. It features a 4-inch top chop, lift-off Carson-style top, frenched lights, flush-fit skirts, a ’51 DeSoto grille and bumpers, and ’54 Merc taillights, among other mods. The House of Kolor Burple paint is lit up with seaweed-style flames in PPG Whisper Blue.
The custom body is channeled over a ’85 Caprice frame with air springs, 18-inch Sage wheels, and whitewall tires. Power comes from a Blueprint Engines 350c.i. Chevy small block with triple carbs, MSD ignition, and a 700R4 overdrive transmission making for easy freeway cruisin’.
Cruising on custom blue-and-white synthetic leather stitched by Al’s Auto Upholstery over Thunderbird seats, Mitch is understandably proud of how far both he and the car have come. “Dreams do come true,” he says.
Photos by Damon Lee & Steven Bunker