1950 Mercury convertible owned by Ron House
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
As soon as the 1949-51 Mercurys hit the showrooms, customizers saw their ample bodies and flathead V-8 engines as starting points for sleeker and more powerful creations that often ended up on the covers of hot rod magazines. But the real notoriety came in 1955 with the release of “Rebel Without a Cause,” a feature film that starred a modded ’49 Mercury sedan driven by teen heartthrob James Dean. Dean died in a car crash that year at age 24, but the Mercs are still riding high 62 years later and still serve as blank canvases for the customizer’s art. House’s convertible, painted in “British Racing Green,” has been restored and modified twice over the years. “I love these ’49-’51 Mercurys,” he says. “I had a ’51 Mercury in the same color in high school in 1958, so I have a connection.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it from the original owner, a friend’s father-in-law from Brooklyn, New York. “He came to my wedding in 1966 and sold me the car in 1969,” House says.
“It’s a mild custom,” he says. “I built it as a road car. It was an original-owner car with 37,000 miles and it was in good, solid condition. But it needed paint, needed an interior and needed some motor work. I restored it in 1979 and ran it all over the country for 30 years” before a second restoration was performed. Both times, a host of changes were made to its appearance and mechanical bits, including parts that are recognizable from Cadillac and Lincoln, as well as modern advancements, such as disc brakes, electronic ignition and radial tires.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Have a lot of ‘Ben Franklins,’” he advises. “It takes a lot of money to get a car to this caliber. You’re talking six figures. Don’t tell my wife.”
House estimates the Mercury is worth $100,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“When I get behind the wheel, it’s my time machine,” he says. “When I get in the car and drive out east to wine country (on Long Island, New York) at six in the morning,” it’s like 1958 all over again.”