While this car is scarcely recognizable from the last time it was featured by a media outlet, some of you may recognize it as the custom touring 1950 Mercury that was left by Rod and Custom magazine as part one to a series of articles that would never see a part two. In what would seem to be a twist of fate and the intertwining of this car’s story and the story of Rod and Custom magazine, they both stalled at the same time. The progress on the car stopped, and it was left incomplete while Rod and Custom printed their last issue in October of 2014.
This '50 Merc' is all around one gorgeous car. The team at GMP Cars did an amazing job putting it together.
The car sat dormant for some time before the folks at GMP Cars out of Novato, California, got their hands on it and breathed new life into the build, and story, of this beautiful 1950 Mercury custom. It was ground breaking at its inception, and today, it still pushes the bounds of what it means to be a custom touring rod.
We talked to Rob Trites and Troy Budde over at GMP cars to get the inside scoop on the build, get some details about what stalled the project, and find out how it ended up reaching completion. “The long and short of it: basically, I knew the owner of the car from where it started,” Rob said. “He told me he pulled the car out of there, we kind of went back and forth and talked about the car and how much I’d like to finish it. That’s how it came to us to finish, because of my relationship with the previous owner.”
Because of the lighting, this picture almost gives a glimpse of what the car would look like in the sun. The light hits the rear pan and the lower half of the side enough to bring out some of the red.
They had done some bodywork to the car, but it was basically the same – Rob Trites
The car now belongs to GMP cars, and is a project that they are finishing. It was important for them to get the car done and on the road. When GMP Cars ended up with it, the car had changed very little from where the Rod and Custom article left off. “They had done some bodywork to the car, but it was basically the same,” Rob explained. For them, this is just too cool a car to let it fade into obscurity.
Those HRE one-off wheels fit the car nicely and look stunning.
Previously, the build was going to feature a flathead Ford V8 that would be a nod to the classic hot rod style that the ’50 Mercury was going to emulate and modernize. The team at GMP Cars, however, decided that the outdated flathead style was not going to cut it. “We decided to go with a Rousch racing 302 crate engine,” Rob said. “That will give us about 400-horsepower and plenty of muscle to move the car around. It’ll do everything that needs to be done and still be pretty reliable.”
The build sits on top of a spec-built Art Morrison chassis with RideTech Shock Wave air bag suspension, Art Morrison tubular front and rear suspension components, rack-and-pinion steering, and one-off HRE three-piece wheels over Wilwood disc brakes all the way around. The 302 cubic-inch Roush engine is fueled by a Holley Terminator EFI system, and is coupled to a GM 200R4 automatic transmission. The drivetrain is completed with a narrowed Ford 9-inch rearend with 4.11 gearing.
A lot of work went into perfecting this build, and they did an outstanding job.
The team has worked really hard to keep the classic custom-touring style, but still modernize the build for updated looks and reliable high performance power. They’ve really done a good job of continuing where the build left off, but still made this Mercury into a product of their own design.
The hydro-dipped bumpers and grill look amazing. It's a really cool touch that is only subtly different than the chrome would be, but it makes a big difference in the look of the finished car.
They’ve kept the 3-inch chopped roof with slanted b-pillars along with the general design aesthetic. The custom-touring look really fits the Mercury’s body style well. “They were originally going to do a metallic black, but we’ve gone with a slightly different color,” Rob said, “It’s a custom color done at our body shop by our painter. He’s named it Black Cherry. In the shade, the car looks black, but you let the sun hit it and it just pops. It’s like a really deep burgundy color.”
It keeps the bare, polished steel look – Rob Trites
That dark burgundy in the sun and black in the shade is a great color for this car, especially when placed alongside the hydro-dipped bumpers, LED taillight housings, and grill that are made to look like bare metal. It’s a high-contrast sort of build that we just love. “It keeps the bare, polished steel look,” Rob said.
Although the interior is still in progress, it’s going to be a sandalwood color with burgundy piping that’ll match the design aesthetic of the rest of the build. “Obviously, it’s going to be all custom as well,” Rob explained. They are using a custom Momo steering wheel, along with a set of Dakota Digital gauges. It’ll really look just as nice inside as it does outside.
“The fact is that the car never got finished and the end of the article says, to be continued, we wanted to fill in that place where the dot dot dot came in and bring the car back to life,” explained Troy, “It deserves to be driven, but it really deserves to be in the possession of someone that is going to enjoy it. Rob and his crew have poured their heart and soul into it.”
In the end, the car has turned out absolutely beautiful. You’ve seen the pictures and you’ve got to read about the drivetrain, so how do you think it lives up to the original build? We think the team at GMP Cars did an amazing job reviving the build and completing the car along with original intent. If you remember this from Rod and Custom, or from one of its bare-metal appearances at SEMA, let us know what you think in the comments below.