Narodził się jako Mercury w 1949, ale dziś swojego pierwowzoru absolutnie nie przypomina. Amerykanie mają najdłuższe tradycje w przebudowywaniu swoich samochodów i trzeba przyznać, że potrafią tchnąć w stare wozy zupełnie nową duszę. Jeżeli zaczniemy analizować projekt, znajdziemy w nim szereg elementów z przeróżnych okresów motoryzacji (np. grill z zębami Chevroleta ’53 czy zawieszenie z Oldsmobila ’77) lecz fascynujący jest fakt, że taki składak ma swój własny, tak wyrazisty charakter.
1949 Mercury Convertible Custom by Dick Dean
To be auctioned on Thursday, January 15, 2015
Sold for $71,500
$60,000 – $80,000
Chassis no. 9CM202772
Est. 300 bhp, 350 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, three-speed Hydra-Matic transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with air suspension, and front disc and rear drum power hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 117.5 in.
Cars such as this are often called “James Dean Mercurys,” due to the mildly customized 1949 Club Coupe that the late screen idol drove in the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause. This one, however, is better described as a “Dick Dean Mercury,” after the talented craftsman, who was known as the “Sultan of Chop.”
Richard Sawitskas, born in Wyandotte, Michigan, grew up around his father’s Nash dealership and began customizing local cars. He was one of the first people in the area to introduce the chopped top, which was already popular in California. George Barris, the “King of the Kustomizers,” was impressed by his work and enticed him to move to California, where he worked under the name Dick Dean. He later worked for Jack Ryan at Mattel Toys and also with Dean Jeffries on the Green Hornet TV car and the Monkee Mobile.
Dean built this Mercury at his own shop in Riverside, California, for Gary Niemie, of nearby Victorville, in the early 1990s. The car, featuring a mixture of old-school customizing and out-of-the-box thinking, is based on a club coupe body that was channeled over a 1977 Oldsmobile sedan chassis. The front suspension retains the stock Olds control arms with coil springs, while the rear suspension is a GM 10-bolt axle that rides on air springs. Under the hood is a small block Chevrolet 350 V-8 with an Edelbrock manifold and four-barrel carburetor, which sends its power to the rear wheels through a Turbo 350 Hydra-Matic transmission.
The car features a removable Carson-style top, “Frenched” headlights, a grille with 1953 Chevrolet “teeth,” and 1952 Kaiser bumper tips with custom taillight lenses. The rear “bridge” is from a 1955 Pontiac, while the wheel covers are unabashedly from a 1957 Cadillac. The completed body was finished in burgundy by Tom Rodriguez, of Cypress Auto Body, with the fuchsia pinstriping applied by the legendary Larry Watson. The tuck-and-roll interior was completed by Independent Upholstery in Bellflower, California, and faces a dashboard with Dean’s signature teardrop-style dashboard knobs.
Upon completion, Dean’s custom Mercury was featured in the fall 1992 issue of Custom Rodder magazine, with an accompanying article detailing its recently completed construction. After a decade in California ownership, it was sold to the present owner for his eclectic Pacific Northwest collection, in which it has been consistently well-maintained.
This ’49 Mercury is a rare exception to the current formula for resto-mod construction, as it features a clever combination of old-school customizing and early 1990s technology. Although Dick Dean died in 2008, this car continues his legacy as the “Sultan of Chop.”