Frank Maratta's 1940 Mercury Coupe - The Pink Beast
1940 Mercury owned and built by Frank Maratta of Hartford, Connecticut. Frank was operating a custom shop named New England Auto Body, and to show his abilities and get more customers, he decided to make a wild custom that would gather as much attention as possible.
The Pink Beast
The build started on a 1940 Mercury 4-door convertible sedan, and in the end, less than 25 percent of the original body was left. 2000 hours of metal shaping and leading were spent after work hours constructing the promotion custom. It featured endless of modifications, such as the hand-shaped tapered fins sloping down to a set of 1952 Mercury taillights. The front, dash, doors, and trunk were hand shaped and modified. The upholstery was custom-built. Seats, door panels, and dash padding were all 2-tone Naugahyde white and pink to match the exterior.
"Connecticut's Classiest Custom"
In August of 1957, Maratta's Mercury graced the cover of Rod & Custom magazine. With a tongue-in-cheek flair, the editor, Spence Murray, presented the car as “Connecticut's Classiest Custom,” a title as ironic as it was infamous. Baptized the “Pink Beast,” it was whispered that the Merc’s cover appearance might've been more jest than jubilation, a playful poke at the extremes of custom culture. This wasn't just any custom job—it was polarizing. To some, it represented the daring innovation of the East Coast; to others, it was an over-the-top oddity that had enthusiasts across New England cringing. They feared the Californian reaction, apprehensive that this pink spectacle could be misconstrued as the East Coast's customizing benchmark.
Cut Into Pieces
In 2019, John Bozio told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama about the fate of the Mercury. Bozio was a friend of Maratta, and he told Kustomrama that in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Frank was spending a lot of time lobbying state of Connecticut lawmakers to get the laws changed so he could own and build his own NHRA dragstrip; "During that time the Mystery Car sat in the corner of his shop collecting dust and dirt. He had lost interest in it. Frank's interest changed to street rods and drag cars. The Mystery Car was Frank's signature trademark, and he didn't want anyone else to get their hands on it. He also didn't want to watch it turn into a pile of junk in the corner, so one late Friday night, Frank got out the cutting torch and put the Mystery to rest. The word around town was that that Saturday morning, when Frank came to himself and went to the body shop, there was a 300lb pile of pink melted lead on the shop floor. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it," Bozio chuckled. Bozio recounts this with a knowing smile, aware that the Merc’s demise was as enigmatic as its existence. And there, in the ashes of what was once hailed as "Connecticut's Classiest Custom," lies a testament to the whimsical and wild heart of custom culture.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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