Rod & Custom Feature Car
Ray Richard
Port Arthur, Texas
1951 Mercury

The original Mercury chassis is still serving duty, though it now wears a fresh front clip from Street Rod Engineering, based on Mustang II components, all powdercoated black. A Master Power Brakes booster and master cylinder bring the Merc to a stop, coupled with Ford discs at the front and drums out back. The frame was modified in the rear with a C-notch for axle clearance and a four-link locating the 1995 Ford truck 9-inch, which contains Moser axles. Air suspension at each corner gives Ray the ride height he wants, which necessitated chassis mods at the rear, while the X-member was modified to clear the transmission, along with a new crossmember.

It may be a FoMoCo product and use Ford suspension and axles, but Ray turned to GM for a motor and transmission, settling on a crate 350 dressed with an Edelbrock carburetor and intake manifold, polished stainless Speedway Motors headers feeding into Flowmaster mufflers, Parr Automotive valve covers and a '52 Caddy air cleaner. Under the handmade shroud lives the radiator from a 1985 Dodge van. Fellow Texans, Phoenix Transmissions, supplied the heavy-duty 700-R4 and Torque Max converter.

Wheels & Tires
Nothing fancy was needed when it came to rims, Ray opting for a set of four stock 15-inch steelies from an '85 Ford, as the fronts are hidden behind 'caps and the rears are out of view behind the skirts. With each wrapped in 215/70R15 Coker whitewalls, the Merc needs nothing more.

Body & Paint
The Merc's bodywork was all tackled at home, including the roof chop which incorporates '50 back glass and slanted B-pillars, as well as the rounded hood and trunk corners, the custom hood scoops, and molded skirts. Ray removed the rear corners of the hood and welded them to the cowl and fenders, frenched the headlights using a Hagen kit, and added those neat '77 Cordoba park lights on either side of the '52 DeSoto grille. With the prep work completed, the Merc went to Gonzo's Custom Paint in Groves, Texas, for the PPG Brandywine.

Dakota Digital gauges live in a modified Ford dash, with a painted Flaming River tilt column and custom center console and door tops carrying the body color front to rear. A LeCarra steering wheel covered by Shawn Cook in the same tan Alante material as the '97 Lincoln MkVIII seats, side panels, and headliner offer a great contrast, with the Vintage Air controls occupying space in the console along with a Pioneer head unit for the JL Audio system.