Sam Barris' 1949 Mercury

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1949 Mercury owned and built by Sam Barris of Barris Kustoms around 1950/1951. Sam bought the car brand new late in 1948, and in order to afford it he had to sell his kustomized 1940 Mercury. Sam drove the car around as a stocker for a few months, figuring out how to chop it. Sam's Mercury is one of the first, if not the first, chopped 1949 - 1950 Mercury, and it was built in the newer Barris shop on Atlantic. According to The Rodders Journal 29 the car was not the first chopped 1949 Mercury, since the Ayala Brothers were chopping Louie Bettancourt's 1949 Mercury at the same time, but Sam's Mercury was finished before Louie Bettancourt's Mercury.[1]

Sam gave his Merc Fadeaway Fenders by removing the hump out of the doors and the downturn out of the rear fenders. This treatment gave the car a smoother body line. Coincidentally the same Fadeaway Fenders treatment was also done by Gil Ayala on Louie Bettancourt's 1949 Mercury that was done about the same time. The front fenders on the car was molded to the grille surround. Two grille surround pieces were used to create a symmetrical grille opening from the bottom to top. Two 1951 Ford grille bars were used to make the grille. The headlights on the car were frenched using the stock rims. The taillights were also kustom made by Sam. Before Sam started the chop, he shaved the door handles, filled the grille shell seams and nosed and decked the car. The car was also modified with side trim from a 1948 Buick. The fender skirts on the car were also built from scratch by Sam. According to George Barris the car was chopped 4 inches. Sam left the b-pillars straight, but he removed the drip rails and rounded the door corners. In order to fit in the car, after the top was chopped, and the head room reduced, Sam cut off the seat tracks and hardware before he welded the seat frame directly to the floor. Once completed, the body was painted dark green metallic.

The Mercury was entered at the 2nd Oakland Roadster Show, held February 20 - 25, 1951, where it won 2nd prize in the full custom class. Looking at photos from the show, it looks like the interior wasn't done when the car was entered at the show. The interior was redone by Gaylord, and it was finished in white Fabrilite with green piping. A Monterrey steering wheel was installed in the car as well. Later on in 1951 Sam sold the car to Bobby Orr of Muscatine, Iowa. Right before Sam sold the car it was featured on the cover of Motor Trend December 1951. After Bobby Orr bought the car, the car was never seen at any show or in any magazine.

April 1st 1957 the Sam Barris Mercury was sold to Tommy Lee of Ringwood, New Jersey. When Tommy got the car, the stock engine had been replaced by an Oldsmobile engine. In 1958 Tommy rebuilt the driveline and equipped the car with a 1956 Buick Nailhead engine and a 1937 LaSalle transmission. Tommy Lee also rounded the hood and deck lid corners on the car. Tommy owned the car until 2004 when John Mumford acquired it. Tommy Lee helped John Mumford to undo the corners he had rounded on the roof and deck lid decades earlier. John Mumford thereafter sent the car to Roy Brizio Street Rods for a full restoration. The paint was done by Darryl Hollenbeck of Vintage Color Studio in Concord, California.[1]

Magazine Features

Motor Trend December 1951
Trend Book 105 Restyle Your Car
The Rodders Journal 29



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