San Jose, California
Naturally, when many think of a custom Merc, visions of '39-40s and '49-51s come to mind. Obviously, the Second World War caused a gap in manufacturing between the two year groups, but even still, Ford's Mercury division did make models pre– and post–World War II, which begs the question, why aren't they as notable custom-wise? Well, in my opinion, it's fairly simple: they're nowhere near as attractive.
Well, opinions—including my own—can often be swayed. And in the case of postwar/pre-'49 Mercs, mine has indeed changed after seeing Goran Lassell's full-custom '48 coupe. I wouldn't go as far as saying my infatuation with the Hirohata and Matranga hardtops is in any jeopardy, however, I do have a new respect for what I normally considered an ugly duckling. Goran, a hair pomade manufacturer and car exporter, is now on his third go 'round with his '48: first rendition, a low-buck cruiser; second, an update with green suede; and now its current finished state, chopped and tastefully resplendent metallic gold, courtesy of Sacramento Kustoms.
When asked to bring us up to speed, here's what Goran had to say: "I bought the '48 in San Jose, California, in 2008 as an empty shell with a Mustang II already set up. I had an SBC 383 stroker and Turbo 350 automatic installed together with a new air-ride system and new electrical wiring, then drove it as a low-budget rod with almost no interior for about nine months before I met Jesse Miller at Sacramento Kustoms. I had been looking around for someone to do the chop on it. Everybody said it would be very costly and hard work with the style I wanted, but when I met Jesse, I knew he was the guy for the job—he totally got the point about the stretched quarter windows, and even took my thoughts about the car further ('46 Buick grille, '53 Buick headlights, and so on). I wanted a long, sleek look, so we decided to not skirt the car to avoid the bulkiness, but welded the rear fenders on and bobbed the trunk, making the opening follow the body line. We kept the original rear bumper but fitted it with a '52 Kaiser overrider customized with the taillights in the bumperettes. The front bumper was changed to a '50 Mercury, fitted and equipped with a '55 Chrysler bumper guard. Then the car was painted in a semigloss green pearl, and the dash/window garnish in '36 Ford yellow. Inside the Merc we put a custom-fitted '50 Ford dash with a '40 Lincoln steering wheel on a LimeWorks column. We used a Thunderbird-based interior that we had Paccos in Roseville do in pearl white vinyl together with an incredible custom-made headliner.
"We debuted the car at the Grand National Roadster Show in 2010 in the Suede Palace, after which I started driving it around … took it to Viva Las Vegas the following April, and then down to the Lonestar Round Up in Austin, Texas, a round trip of about 4,000 miles (in sandstorms, with tumbleweeds as big as Fiat 500s, and a snow blizzard around Flagstaff, Arizona); always fun in a kustom without a heater, wipers, or side windows! I continued driving the car around until the fall of 2010 when the stroker motor didn't like my heavy driving style anymore and finally gave up.
"The Merc came out so much better than expected, so when the motor blew up I decided to give it the treatment it really needed: a new 383 stroker (about 400 hp) was installed and the air-ride got upgraded to an AccuAir e-Level system. It was then sent to paint; it was stripped to bare metal and bodywork redone, then coated in a Dodge color called SaddleBrown Pearl, while the dash and garnish were painted in a Ford dark brown pearl. The Merc was then sent back to Paccos to get a color-matching interior. The front T-bird buckets were changed to a '46 Ford bench and the rear was modified again and everything wrapped in a nice chocolate brown and pepper brown, including the custom headliner. The rims got painted dark brown and dressed with BFGoodrich wide whitewall bias-plies with '50 Plymouth hubcaps. After its third redo, the Merc went to some more shows, including the last Long Beach Motorama in 2012, where it won the top class, The Americas Kustom De'Elegance class."
Normally, I'd say third time's a charm—but according to Goran, each go 'round has been a charming experience.