The Petersen Automotive Museum Auction | Lot 170
1940 Mercury Coupe Custom by Rudy Rodriguez
$125,000 - $175,000 USD
| Los Angeles, California
8 December 2018
- A quintessential Southern California Mercury custom
- Built at Fullerton Fabrication by Rudy Rodriguez
- Four-year build; immaculate attention to detail
- Flathead power with Columbia two-speed rear end
Mercurys are the traditional car of choice for many customizers. Some are done well, others done beautifully, but this car is widely considered to have been built to perfection. Starting with a 50,000-mile, clean original 1940 Mercury coupe, custom car builder extraordinaire Rudy Rodriguez created this traditionally styled custom at his shop, Fullerton Fabrication. Never meant to look like just another traditional custom car, it is an impossibly smooth and elegant shape that looks like it could have been a factory prototype designed by Ford in 1940. Almost every panel on the car was modified or reworked to achieve the desired look, the goal being to achieve a pinnacle of elegance and style usually reserved for European coachbuilders.
Rodriguez chopped the top roughly nine inches in the rear and five inches in the front. In order to prevent the quarter windows from becoming too small after the radical chop, the side window openings, including the rain gutters, were extended further back into the roof. Two sets of stock Mercury stainless steel quarter window frames were used to make one set for the car. Each window frame, jewel molding, and exterior trim piece was custom made to fit the new openings. The result of this tedious process was window frames that look factory built.
The grille appears stock, but is handmade, chromed with each of the fins hand-painted flat silver. The hood latch was hand-made, and the bull nose was reworked to fit the hood perfectly. The hood was further shaved of emblems, and the stock headlights were replaced by ones modified from a 1939 Mercury. The interior is Bottle Green leather, matched with German square weave carpet with leather piping, which was also used in the trunk of the car. Black vintage Mercedes-Benz wool was used for the headliner. The interior finishes are as fine as any European thoroughbred of the period.
This is truly an exceptional custom Mercury, a fully realized and evolved vision of the Southern California custom car craft.