An amazing combination of the coolest lead sled style with modern resto-mod performance, this 1950 Mercury M72B is the definition of a cool car find.
1949 Mercury Woody Wagon – carsforsale.com | Shop Mercury M72B on Carsforsale.com
With World War II in the rearview, Americans were a happy bunch with money to burn and an eye toward the latest sweet rides from Detroit. Over the prior decade, automotive design was defined by a whole lot of sameness. But, as the 1940s wrapped up, Ford’s mid-pack brand – Mercury – would change that in dramatic fashion.
Founded in 1938, Mercury was positioned as an in-between vehicle brand, bookended by mainstream Ford and luxury Lincoln. However, with the release of their 1949 lineup, Mercury would take the limelight and deliver a car that arguably defined hot-rodding culture.
Back then, vehicle brands generally consisted of a single car offered in a wide variety of body styles. For Mercury in 1949, that car was the Mercury Eight. Ditching the bulbous fender and running board look of most cars at the time, this new Mercury arrived with a “pontoon” appearance and low-slung lines that were an instant hit.
Between 1949 and 1951, Mercury offered their Eight in six different body styles including a station wagon, convertible, sedan, and Club Coupe, the latter of which was internally known as the M72B. Today’s Cool Car Find, a 1950 Mercury M72B, is a heavily modified example of this iconic ride.
Mercury’s icon status began when legendary Hollywood car customizers Sam and George Barris built the first “lead sled” from a 1949 Mercury Eight. They would take this lead sled style – typically defined by a chopped, channeled, frenched, and shaved body – to a whole new level with their Hirohata Merc, a benchmark in classic car customization to this day.
Around the same time, James Dean burned the third-gen Mercury into the dreams of young hot rodders nationwide with the modified ’49 Club Coupe featured in his film Rebel Without a Cause. All of this celebrity attention combined with Ford’s well-loved Flathead V8 came together to create an all-time automotive great.
In the 1950 Mercury lineup, the Flathead V8 displaced 255 cubic inches with output ratings of 110 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. It was paired with a 3-speed manual transmission to spin the rear wheels and the option for a “Touch-O-Matic” overdrive engaged by an under-dash lever.
Considering some 900,000 of these Flatheads were produced in a short 3-year span, it’s perhaps unsurprising that this motor would effectively create the automotive performance aftermarket as we know it today. With so much inventory, budding customizers could experiment to their heart’s content, and did so for decades to come.
Highlights of the 1950 Mercury include its status as the official pace car at the Indy 500 and the introduction of the high-end Monterey coupe trim. By 1953, this fanciest of Mercurys would go on to become a standalone nameplate and a future cool car in its own right as we look at here.
Fast forward nearly 75 years and these classic Mercs are STILL turning heads as evidenced by the custom 1950 Mercury M72B for sale here. This black-on-black beauty manages to be both a killer lead sled and full-blown restomod thanks to a high level of customization.
These third-gen Mercurys are the quintessential lead sled, an automotive artform that results in a dramatically revised body. In the case of today’s car, that means the top has been chopped four inches up front and five inches out back, the headlights have been frenched, custom bumpers have been fitted, and the door handles, trunk lid, and body trim are shaved.
For those unfamiliar with the term “restomod”, we go into detail on this approach to customization here, but the general idea is to preserve the feel of a classic car while adding modern performance, comfort, and safety during the restoration. Much of this work involves the search for a just-right vintage piece, a process we discuss here. Between the 300+ photos, in-depth video, and a laundry list of work performed in the creation of this 1950 Mercury M72B resto-sled, it clearly checks all those boxes.
Sitting in a glistening engine bay is a 5.7L LS1 V8 and 4L60E 4-speed automatic transmission lifted from a 1999 Chevy Corvette donor car. Rated for an ample 345 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque in stock form, the motor has been cosmetically improved with a custom valve cover paint job and a host of polished components.
Jet Hot coated headers feed a 2 ½-inch stainless steel dual exhaust system with Magnaflow mufflers, while an Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft runs back to a Ford 9-inch Posi-Traction rear end with 3.5:1 gears. As the seller notes, this setup was aimed at highway cruising with the engine spinning at less than 2,000 RPMs at 65-70 mph.
A 1950 Mercury M72B powered by a C3 Corvette is pretty fantastic all by itself, but the mechanical resto-modding continues with four-corner power disc brakes, stainless steel brakes lines, coil-over suspension, and a Mustang II-type Fat Man front clip.
Inside, this 1950 Merc has been equipped with power steering and windows, power-adjustable front buckets from a 2002 Ford Thunderbird, Vintage AC equipment, Dakota Digital gauges, and an Ididit steering column. There is also a custom center console with JVC audio components, Painless Performance wiring throughout, and a shifter out of a 2005 Ford Mustang.
1950 Mercury M72B – carsforsale.con | Shop Mercury M72B on Carsforsale.com
Considering the level of time, money, and obvious enthusiasm spent creating this custom 1950 Mercury M72B, it is no surprise that the car has won multiple Best of Show awards since it was completed in 2008.
For those in the business of collecting cars, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect showcase vehicle than this third-gen custom Mercury. Blending old-school lead sledding with new-age restomodding – to exquisite effect – it is a car that is sure to fire up the excitement of any enthusiast.