Open Roads, February | Lot 260
1951 Mercury Eight Coupe Custom
North American Offering
$175,000 - $225,000 USD
| Westlake Village, California
19 - 28 February 2021
- A tastefully executed Mercury “lead sled” custom
- Dual-carbureted V-8 with Offenhauser heads; three-speed manual transmission
- Black over a white interior with a deep red dashboard and accents,
- Shaved door handles and fuel filler door; lowered stance
- Fitted with dual Appleton spotlights, Cadillac hubcaps
The Mercury Eight received an all-new design for 1949, and with its streamlined fenders and wide, sleek stance, it was a dramatic departure from the pre-WWII styling it replaced. It also represented the ideal canvas for customizers; to emphasize the Eight’s already attractive lines, these vehicular artisans lowered the car even further, selectively removed badges and smoothed over protrusions like door handles, and sometimes chopped their tops dramatically. A burgeoning aftermarket for speed equipment, meanwhile, made it easy for hot-rodders to hop up the model’s 255-cubic inch flathead V-8.
The resulting creations—the so-called “lead sleds”—were instant icons of American automotive culture, and this 1951 Mercury Eight Coupe is an attractive example of the style. While it wears Barris Kustoms badges on its fenders, its early history, and which shops may have had a hand in the build, remains unknown at the present.
It is, however, a well-balanced and carefully executed custom with a wonderful period-correct feel. To start, the car’s door handles have been shaved, and the fuel filler relocated to the inside of the trunk for a cleaner look. Adjustable rear shocks help give the car the perfect stance, while dual Appleton spotlights, white whitewall tires, and 1957 Cadillac hub caps complete the traditional exterior appearance.
The car’s black exterior is nicely contrasted by a white interior with deep red accents. Under the hood, the Mercury flathead V-8, paired with a three-speed manual transmission, has been fitted with Offenhauser heads and a dual-carburetor intake. A chromed generator, air filters, oil filter canister, and breather cap dress up the engine compartment, while electric fans help provide adequate cooling.
Ever since they first emerged on the scene, lead sleds have always projected an aura of timeless, effortless cool. Carefully maintained under the ownership of the consignor, and accompanied by receipts and maintenance files from 2015-2018, this 1951 Mercury Eight Coupe Custom is an appealing chance to experience the phenomenon for yourself.