In an odd twist, the day this story was written, the fate of one of the most iconic car brands in history, Mercury, was also being written. Started by Edsel Ford in 1939 as a midlevel line of vehicles between the Ford and Lincoln divisions, it was announced Mercury would cease automotive production due to dwindling sales. It's a sad commentary on today's car market, as the once-popular division of Ford has created some of the best-looking vehicles (the '39 and '49 coupe, the '54 Monterey, and even the Cougar) the country has ever seen.
Harry Hartkemeyer, from Cincinnati, is certainly a fan of the marque, as he owns this '47 Mercury convertible, but he also owned a '50 and '51 Merc back in the late '50s when he was a teenager. Over the years he's owned a handful of lookers, including a nice '53 Buick custom in the early '90s as well as a '48 Pontiac, which he still owns and drives today. But Mercurys have always had a place in his heart, so when he decided to go through a 1947 Merc convertible six years ago, he had a vision of what he wanted. And though at a quick glance his Merc may not appear to be anything more than a nice stocker, upon closer inspection you'll see there is a lot more to the story.
Doing all the work on the car except the paint, the 71-year-old started with a stock chassis, adding an independent suspension system from Total Cost Involved Engineering as a well as a set of 11-inch disc brakes. The rear suspension was dialed in around a Ford 9-inch (3.00:1) and a Posies spring, plus another set of 11-inch rotors. The red 15-inch Wheel Vintiques steelies, which are wrapped in Coker 205/75 and 215/75 rubber, are topped with a classic cap 'n' ring combo.
Extra body trim was one of the design differences between the Mercury and Ford line of vehicles, and Harry chose to keep all of the exterior pieces intact on his hot rod. PPG red paint (PN 1677) was applied to the outside by Mike Krummen of Cincinnati for a seminal hot rod appearance, and the convertible received a new tan top from McHenry Upholstery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
McHenry also covered the Lincoln Mark VIII bucket seats with tan Ultra Leather, which makes for a nice contrast to the red 'n' chrome used elsewhere in the interior. Large-face Classic Instruments gauges (speedo and clock) are found on both sides of the stock chrome speaker grille while four smaller gauges were installed to the left of the ididit column, which itself is topped with a two-tone Lecarra steering wheel. Other dash items include a Kenwood stereo system, Vintage Air controls, and a power window setup from Nu-Relics, all wired up using Ron Francis wiring components.
As subtle and nice as the exterior and interior of Harry's Merc is, the same can also be said of what's under the hood. Not a hopped-up Flathead, but rather an '01 4.6L Ford modular Police Interceptor V-8, with 360 available horses, was bolted in along with its stock overdrive transmission. Harry says the wiring for the electronic motor "was a chore" to figure out, but Street & Performance was able to help him out with his wiring harness. Simple additions, like the stainless steel exhaust, BBK valve covers, and a Griffin radiator were all made, and the air cleaner/cover was color matched to the car and then pinstriped by Tim McComas from Brush Works, Lines, and Lettering (also in Cincinnati).
Harry already has 10,000 miles rolled up on the car's odometer, and doesn't see any problems with recording a few thousand more. He says, "They're no good unless you drive 'em." We'd have to agree and, perhaps if Mercury still made cars that looked as great as Harry's 63-year-old convertible, the company might have survived.