When you say “’40 Merc” to someone, a half dozen or so images probably pop into their head. Maybe Gil Ayala’s car appears, or Nick Matranga’s, or Ron Martinez’s, or even John D’Agostino’s Stardust or Brian Everett’s contemporary examples come to mind.
It’s hard to break new ground when working with such an iconic profile, but the guys at TED’s Rod Shop in Riverside, California, were able to do just that. They combined a hot rod attitude (and drivetrain) with classic custom lines with just enough unique touches to set this 1940 Mercury coupe apart from anything else parked alongside it. And when you’re talking about '40 Mercs, that’s a real accomplishment!
Tod Saylor and Eric Newman make up the “T” and “E” in the TED’s name (their buddy Dave is the “D”, but not part of the business), and the project started when Tod bought the car after seeing it at the first West Coast Kustoms car show in Santa Maria in 2008.
Though it looks pretty straightforward,...
Though it looks pretty straightforward, there’s a lot going on inside the Merc. The custom split-back bench seat is from Wanda Wells of Wanda’s Upholstery and was done in a wide diamond pattern with Ox Blood and white vinyl. The dash was modified by Mike Grandaw, who molded in the drop for the chrome ididit steering column. Julia Owen not only restored the gauges but updated them by painting the gauge edge copper to continue the theme found throughout the car. An iPod-only stereo system from Audio Shoppe in Riverside includes Arc Audio speakers and gear. Inside the glovebox are the controls for the RideTech, Old Air Products A/C system, and the iPod Nano.
The car had been chopped and a Mustang II front suspension added, but it wasn’t until TED’s blasted the paint off the body that they could see what was underneath, and it wasn’t pretty! Both the front and rear suspension sections were welded in a few inches forward of where they should have been, and the chop job wasn’t up to TED’s standards, so they started over from the ground up.
Since the car was basically shop-owned, the guys couldn’t really work on it during business hours (as those are reserved for customer’s cars) but, to add to the mix, the TV show Chop, Cut, Rebuild was knocking on their door wanting to film the entire process for their upcoming sixth season. TED’s said “yes” and it was off to the races!
TED’s wanted to build the Merc with classic custom styling, but also wanted to detail every aspect of the car as they went along (not really the norm in the custom world), so underneath this car looks as good as the exterior does. The chassis was addressed with a new Mustang II–type front suspension from Jim Weimer Rod Garage, which utilizes an air ride system from RideTech and a set of 11-inch disc brakes.
Out back a Currie 9-inch rear with an aluminum carrier and a Detroit Locker differential and a set of 4.11:1 gears went together with a stainless steel four-bar system from RideTech installed by TED’s. Currie Enterprises also supplied the Ford Explorer disc brake conversion for the 9-inch, and ECI delivered one of their clutch and brake pedal assemblies.
One of the more imaginative design aspects of the car is with the 15x6 steel wheels from Wheel Smith, which are copper plated, that provide a polished penny appearance at the outer edge of the wheel as they’re mostly hidden by the Dodge hubcaps and custom bullets. The rollers are wrapped in Firestone 670-15 wide whites.
Steel plate was cut and shaped...
Steel plate was cut and shaped to create a buck to fabricate the window trim pieces, and more than 50 hours of blocking the copper was needed before the chrome could go on.
Besides the chassis detailing, another non-traditional approach with the car was taken with the drivetrain, which centers on a Ford Racing 347 that is prepped with Edelbrock performance and dress-up parts. The crank, rods, and pistons are all forged, and an Edelbrock roller camshaft was used. Up top a pair of Edelbrock thunder AVS 500-cfm carbs feed the beast, which is fitted with headers and stainless steel exhaust by Doug Thorley and an ignition system from MSD. A Be Cool aluminum radiator works in tandem with the mechanical fan, and a chrome 100-amp alternator supplies the juice to the motor.
Under the car a polished aluminum driveshaft from Inland Empire Driveline matches the polished bellhousing for the Tremec TKO five-speed box. The pressure plate and clutch disc came from CenterForce, and the pedals, shifter, and cables arrived from Lokar.
One of the many surprises...
One of the many surprises with this car is under the hood. An Edelbrock 347 Ford crate motor looks sharp and delivers more than 400 hp on Edelbrock’s dyno (when’s the last time you saw that kind of performance number in a custom cruiser?). Forged rods, pistons, and crank are central to the Ford Racing engine, to which Edelbrock added their RPM (PN 2281) roller cam, an EnduraShine water pump, a set of Performer RPM heads, finned Edelbrock valve covers, a RPM dual Air-Gap manifold, and a pair of Thunder Series AVS 500-cfm carbs. The engine backs up to a Tremec TKO five-speed equipped with a clutch disc and pressure plate from Centerforce.