Cool Mercs are nothing new to Charlie Edwards. He started off in high school with a '54 Mercury Monterey and eventually courted his wife, Ruth Anne, in the same vehicle. They shared many good times in that car until they got married in 1962 and it was replaced with something newer. After a few years, he built himself a chopped '51 Mercury and then proceeded to drive the wheels off of it for the next 20 years, but then it too had to be sold.
After a 10-year Mercury dry spell, Charlie started over again when he happened upon a forlorn '52 Mercury hardtop with a take-home price of only $200. Soon after that discovery, he chanced upon a dilapidated '54 Merc convertible that was sadly rusted way beyond repair, but it could give up just enough parts to transform his hardtop into an open-air model. With both cars in his shop and a big stack of hacksaw blades at the ready Charlie proceeded to make the metal shavings fly. After the two Mercs were properly introduced and mated, Charlie's attention shifted to the chassis.
Since Charlie really likes to drive his cars (his '29 Model A roadster has logged over 330,000 cross-country miles), the underpinnings of his Merc would need to be both easy to maintain and virtually bulletproof. For motivation he wanted reliable and powerful, and a late-model GM LS1 fills both of those needs. The reliable theme was carried over to the chassis with a rebuilt and lowered '81 Chevy Monte Carlo front clip mated to the original chassis. Out back a '95 Chevy 10-bolt rearend was hung on a fresh pair of parallel leaf springs.
With the chassis work out of the way, Charlie returned his attentions to the body. The key to any successful custom is to take away just the right amount of pieces and adding only what is necessary without going overboard. Charlie nailed it with his mild custom body mods that are so tasty you don't immediately know why it looks so much better than stock.
Charlie could not stop there. He continued his work inside the car, customizing the dash and the seating. At this point Charlie was finally ready to let someone other than himself work on the project, so he dropped the Merc off at GT Customs for the rich red leather stitch job. Charlie wrapped up the build with an American Autowire harness, a Custom Autosound audio system, and climate control from Hot Rod Air. Having now come around full-circle, Charlie and Ruth Anne relive their high school memories and make great new ones cruising in the car that has never stopped running through its owners' minds.
Charlie and Ruth Anne Edwards
1954 Mercury Convertible
Charlie's rides see a lot of highway use so reliability is essential. For that reason a factory assembled 2000 Chevrolet LS1 backed with a GM six-speed was obtained and dressed with pieces from Street & Performance, including a chrome-plated intake, exhaust headers, and a complete wiring harness.
Intended as a serious driver, Charlie updated the chassis by mating an '81 Monte Carlo front clip to the original Mercury frame. The stance was dialed in with a set of Belltech 2-inch dropped spindles and 2-inch dropped coils. In the rear Charlie mounted a '95 GM 10-bolt rearend on a pair of de-arched leaf springs. A stock pedal connected to an '80 Ford Granada master cylinder and booster activates the disc/drum brake combo supplied by the new pieces.
Wheels & Tires
Sticking with the early custom theme, a set of 15x7 steelies were shod with 205/70R15 Black Diamond radial wide whites finished off with a set of repop Dodge Lancer caps.
Body & Paint
The subtle alterations begin up front with frenched headlights, a nosed hood with a reworked scoop, and a floating grille bar. Charlie continued the modifications by clipping 2 1/2 inches off the transplanted '54 Merc convertible top and windshield, and eliminating the exterior door handles. The custom work continued in the rear with the smoothing of the decklid and the removal of the backup lights. Once the body was properly prepped, Charlie broke out his paint gun and sprayed the many coats of creamy smooth DuPont Wimbledon White.
Charlie let the custom work flow inside and reworked the dash by removing the clock, relocating the vent controls, and cleaning up the gauge cluster. Charlie added a Flaming River steering column and topped it with a '64 Valiant steering wheel with a modified horn ring. For long-legged cruising comfort, an '84 Impala seat was fitted up front and disguised by adding the original Mercury seat skirts. The supple red leather roll 'n' pleat interior by GT Customs (Nicholasville, KY) was the only element farmed out on the whole car.