Harold Ohanesian's 1940 Mercury

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An early photo of Harold's Merc as it looked when it was featured in Hot Rod Magazine August 1948.
Harold's Merc outside Bertolucci Body & Fender Shop. Notice the taillights mounted to the rear bumper guards.
The Ohanesian Mercury at Bonneville in 1951. In this photo the exhaust has not yet been routed through the rear bumper. Photo from the Tim Rochlitzer collection.[1]
Photo from the Mario Baffico collection.[1]
The Merc as it looked after the headlights were frenched.
The Ohanesian Merc on the cover of the souvenir program for he 1975 Sacramento Autorama.
The restored version of the Ohanesian Merc entering the 2009 Sacramento Autorama. Photo by Rik Hoving
The Ohanesian Merc at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama. Photo by Rik Hoving
Photo by Rik Hoving
Photo by Rik Hoving
The Merc on display in the showroom of Sacramento Vintage Ford Parts. The stock 1940 Mercury Convertible Sedan next to the Ohanesian Merc is also owned by Ed Hagerty. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Vintage Ford Parts.

1940 Mercury Convertible Sedan originally restyled by Harry Westergard and Less Crane for Harold Ohanesian of Sacramento, California. Harold "Buddy" Ohanesian bought the car right after returning from the service in 1945. He handed it over to Harry and Less who chopped the top, cut the decklid down, extended the hood, and fit the car with a 1946 Chevrolet grille that was reshaped into an oval.[2] This version of the car can be seen in Hot Rod Magazine August 1948. In the photo, the car has been fit with the 1946 Chevrolet grille, and it features ripple bumpers, stock chromed headlight rims and a tarp over the back seat. The photo is also taken before Harold added Cadillac Sombreros to the car. The photo caption in the magazine says that the car is owned by Sacramento's Ed Ohanesian. When the photo was taken the car was powered by a 1946 Mercury engine fit with an Offenhauser manifold, Edelbrock heads, and a Harman & Collins cam.[3] According to Dick Bertolucci, the car was later fit with a padded Hall Top.[2]

In 1949 Buddy took the Merc to Dick Bertolucci of Bertolucci's Body & Fender Shop in order to fit it with a removable steel top. Dick, who was at 18 years old at the time, went to a wrecking yard and bought the front half of a 1946 Chrysler top, the back half of a 1941 Buick, and an Oldsmobile rear window. He brought the parts back to his shop and started to put the top together. In order to make the new top, he needed to change the angle on the deck lid so the car would end up looking like a narrow sedan. In addition to the top, Dick also replaced the stock bumpers for a pair of 1946 Chevrolet bumpers and recessed the license plate. The headlights were frenched and all chrome trim was shaved. Doors and the rear deck were push-button operated. The doors were operated from electric switches located in the running boards. In September of 2021, Garry Odbert told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama that his dad Johnny Odbert made the stainless steel window trim on the car. "Buddy O lived next door to my mom," he told Kustomrama.[4] Inside the car was fitted with a 1947 Cadillac center dash, instruments and steering wheel which was mounted in a lower position. The new upholstery was formed from red and white antique leatherette. All of the window frames where chrome plated.[5] When the bodywork was complete the car was painted in Maroon with Venus Martin No. 9 gold powder added. The paint was later known as "Sacramento Maroon" or "Bertolucci Maroon" because Dick painted so many cars in that color.[2] Berolucci once told Dick Page that the color was made from 1941 Chevrolet Ruby Maroon with the black left out and with gold powder added for the metallic.[6] Dual spotlights, white sidewall tires and Cadillac Sombreros were also added in order to enhance the attractive and balanced design.[5] Motorcycle-type taillights were attached to the rear-bumper guards. This version of the car was completed around 1950,[6] and can be seen in photo from the 1951 Bonneville Nationals. Sometime after this, the exhaust tips were routed through the rear bumper and the car was fit with 1946 Ford taillights that were molded to the fenders. Fenders and front and rear splash pans were molded in. Dick lowered the car considerably by installing a 4 inch dropped axle and by C'ing the frame in the rear. He also raised the crossmember and mounted a steel plate under the gas tank in order to protect it from highway bumps.[5]

Harold used the car as his daily driver for several years. He also used it to tow his 1934 Ford 3 Window Coupe to Bonneville. After that the car was stored away until the early 1970s when it was acquired and partially refurbished by Louie Martin and Dennis Nash of Sacramento, California. Around 1973-1974 Ron Lago of Sacramento, California upholstered the car for Louie and Dennis.[7] Dennis repainted the car, while Howard Yamamoto pinstriped it. In 1975 the Merc was entered by Louie and Dennis in the "Nostalgia Division" class at the Sacramento Autorama. Ed Hegarty bought the car around 1975, and had a more thorough restoration performed in time for an exhibit of historic hot rods and customs at the Oakland Museum in 1996. [8]

Magazine Features

Hot Rod Magazine August 1948
Motor Life January 1954
Trend Book 143 Restyle Your Car
Rod Action September 1975





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