Bob Tormey's 1941 Mercury

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Bob's Mercury at the Arlington Drag Strip in Arlington, Washington sometime around 1953-1954. Photo from the Tom Nielsen collection. Provided by Rik Hoving. [1]
Photo from the Tom Nielsen collection. Provided by Rik Hoving. [1]
Tormey's Merc at an indoor car show in the Tacoma Armory in Tacoma, Washington. Photo courtesy of Dick Page.
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1941 Mercury Business Coupe restyled by Barris Kustoms. The car was built from the ground and up around 1951, every item that went into the chassis and body was given a thorough customizing. The job began with a 1948 Mercury convertible frame, the front of the chassis was dropped by installing a special Tornado axle. The rear received a complete "c" and dropped spring treatment. The car clearance was only 4 inches. A pair of casters were installed to the center and rear of the frame to prevent scrapes with the pavement. A 1941 Mercury business coupe formed the basis for the body. The top was chopped 3 inches in the front and 4 in the rear. The body was lightly channeled, and a complete new floor, driveshaft tunnel, and trunk floor were installed. A 1946 Ford dashboard was installed and the doors were equipped with electric lifts. A new windshield and frame were made with a full V-shape, but without a center bar, the glass was cemented together at the center. The gas-filler door and fender moldings were removed. The side trim on the hood was shortened to a get more of kind of speed-boat stance. The hood was stripped, filled and given a sharp, well defined peak. Next, the headlights were frenched with the beam units set back in the headlight frames, this was followed by a moderate reworking of the taillights. The old lights were removed and the holes were filled, and the lights were reversed left for right and remounted 4 inches below the stock positions. The trunk lid had its corners rounded and air scoops were built into the leading edges of the rear fenders. The stock grille was retained but 1937 DeSoto ripple bumpers were used instead of the originals. The exhaust pipes were routed through the rear bumper. The car was powered by a full race 296 cuin Merc mill, complete with all the goodies. When Barris was finished with the mallet and dolly hammer, they began the paint stage. After suitable priming, they covered the body with 16 coats of hand-rubbed Titian red lacquer, hence its name "Titian". This was followed up with 4 layers with clear lacquer. A set of wide whites, dual spotlights and an antenna were added. When all the bodywork was done, it was handed over to Gaylord's Kustom Shop for the interior finish. White shag rugs, scuff pads and trunk liners were made for the car. All garnish and trim were chrome plated. Red Naugahyde was used on seats and doors. Foam rubber was used to make the complete set of pleats and rolls.[3]

Right after the car was completed, Bob Tormey of Yakima, Washington saw the car. It was love at first sight, and Bob bought the car and transported it to his home in Yakima. Bob was soon busy making changes to it. He pulled out the Merc engine and dropped in a 1951 Oldsmobile mill. A McBar adapter was used to make the switch. The heads were milled 0.70 and a 3/4 cam and reworked ignition were installed. Next thing Bob did was installing a 14" Emerson Tv set built into the trunk. Folding chairs were built just to fit into the trunk in case a picnic or he was at the beach, In such cases, Bob could open the trunk, lay out the chairs and turn on the TV. Bob kept the car for 5 years, until he met his wife.[3]

Magazine Features

Rod & Custom March 1956



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