Adrienne Hooper's 1956 Mercury

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The first version of Adrienne's Mercury at an outdoor car show. Photo courtesy of Fester Hegedus.
The Wild One version of Adrienne's mercury was featured on the cover of Custom Cars April 1960.
The featured story on the Wild One from Custom Cars April 1960.
The paint on Adrienne's Mercury was inspired by the radical scallop paint job that Bob Heinrichs gave Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane in 1958. Armed with a magazine featuring Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane, known as the Maze, Jim told Jerry Drake, aka Spider the Crazy Painter "This is how I want the Mercury to look like. The first paint job wasn't wild enough." That comment also generated the new name of the car the "Wild One".
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This photo, showing the cavemen and the "Wild One" lettering Jerry Drake painted on the bottom of the grille pan, was published in Rodding and Re-styling August 1960. Photo courtesy of Rodding and Re-styling Magazine.
OUCH! A photo of Adrienne's Mercury dated December 1959. Earlier the same year, Jerry "Spider the Crazy Painter " Drake gave Adrienne's Mercury a scallop paint job similar to the one found on Jerry DeVito's Maze. Just as the original Maze, the Wild One version of Adrienne’s Mercury was short lived. By December of 1959, it had been driven into a telephone pole, wacking up the front end. Jerry learned this several years later, and he had no idea what happened to the car after that. That was until Adrienne got in touch with us. She could tell us that the crash was not the end of the Wild One; "The car was restored. Actually, my younger sister was driving the car and she turned a corner and hit a tree. She should not have been driving such a nice custom car," Adrienne told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama. Photo from The Jerry Drake Photo Collection.

1956 Mercury convertible owned by Jim and Adrienne Hooper of Saginaw, Michigan. Adrienne's Mercury, known as the "Wild One", was restyled by Larry Cooper of Cooper Body Shop in Lansing, Michigan. The first version of the Merc featured canted quad headlights and a tube grille mounted in a rolled pan. Larry gave the car a black base paint, while Jerry Drake, aka Spider the Crazy Painter, taped up scallops. Larry painted the scallops gold, while Jerry pinstriped the lines in red. On the bottom of the grille pan Jerry painted a whole scene of cavemen dragging women by the hair and fighting amongst themselves. Hence, the Wild Ones[1]


After a while the car went back to Cooper Body Shop for further modifications. Armed with a magazine featuring Jerry DeVito's 1957 Ford Fairlane, known as the Maze, Jim told Jerry Drake, aka Spider the Crazy Painter "This is how I want the Mercury to look like. The first paint job wasn't wild enough." The shop was instructed by Adrienne, and the Mercury was fitted with 1956 Packard taillights installed in extended fenders. The rear bumper was removed, and replaced with a rolled rear pan. A straight center grille bar fitted with 1957 Chevrolet Corvette trim teeth replaced the tube grille. The body was shaved for handles and trim before it received a scallop paint job. A black and white Naugahyde interior was made to match the white lacquered finish. Power came from a 1957 Ford Thunderbird mill. The hood was louvered.[2] Jerry laid out the Maze design, Larry Cooper shot the scallops, and Jerry put on the finishing striping. The body was painted white with bronze and silver scallops. In 2015 Jerry told Kustomrama about the weekend the car was painted; "Larry and I started on Friday night, right after Cooper Body Shop had closed for the weekend. I started laying out the design Friday night into Saturday morning. back to the shop early Saturday morning to finish the papering. Larry shot it late Saturday afternoon. It was late into Saturday when we removed the tape. Early Sunday morning we started knocking down the paint edges. I started striping the design Sunday afternoon. I finished it late Sunday. We had to get the car out of there for the shop to open Monday. But I wasn't done yet. Monday night, on the bottom of the grille pan I lettered "The Wild One", and then painted a scene of Beatniks, which were in vogue at the time. Jim and Adrienne picked the car up Tuesday. They both were "blown away" when they saw the car."[1] This version of the Wild One was painted in September of 1959, and it was featured on the cover of Custom Cars April 1960.[1]


Driven Into a Tree

Unfortunately, the second version of the "Wild One" was driven into a tree late in 1959.[1] In 2018 Adrienne Hooper told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that her younger sister was driving the car. She turned a corner and hit the tree; "She should not have been driving such a nice custom car," Adrienne told Kustomrama.[3]


Magazine Features

Custom Cars April 1960
Rodding and Re-styling August 1960


References



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