Wally Welch's 1950 Mercury
1950 Mercury owned by Wally Welch of Burbank, California. Wally bought the Merc brand nee in 1950. Wally drove it for a while, untill he brought it over to the Ayala Brothers for a makeover. The top was chopped 3 inches in front and 7 inches in the rear. To give it a clean appearance, the rain gutters were removed. The steering wheel column was shortened 2.5 inches due to the low sealing. The hood was rounded, molded shaved and peaked. The headlights, were extended and frenched. The taillights and grille shell were frenched. The car was the first Mercury to use 1951 DeSoto grille teeth. Door and trunk handles were removed, and the doors and trunk were operated by solenoids. In order to give the car a sleak appearance, it was lowered 8 inches in the rear and 4.5 in front by reversing the front spindles and cutting the coil springs. The frame was C'd in order to increase the clearance. Dual Appleton spotlights, wide whites with Cadillac Sombreros and fender skirts were added. Once the body was completed, it was painted metallic lime green. Wally's Merc was one of the first 1949-1951 Mercuries that hit the streets with a chopped top. It got lot of attention and was featured in several magazines. At the 1951 Motorama it was awarded as the Best Custom.
In late 1951, Wally handed it over to Barris Kustoms for an update. Barris added two extra teeths, and painted it deep-purple. It was known by then as the Purple Rage. A photo of the Purple Rage version was published in Trend Book 105 Restyle Your Car in 1952. Wally sold the Merc in 1954 or 1955 to Joe Contrero of East Los Angeles. The stock Flathead was swapped for a newer Y-block Ford. Joe kept it for two years until he left to join the army in 1957. The car remained stored in 30 years, and was found in 1985 when Joe Eddy purchased it. A neighbor kid kept telling Joe that an old 50's custom was sitting beneath an advocado three in East Los Angeles. Joe finally went to investigate the car. The Merc was pretty rough after sitting outside the past 30 years, but all was there. The roof had been painted in white household paint to protect it from mother nature. Joe bought the car the same day. Unaware of the Merc's history, the restoring process began. joe did not know that this was one of the first chopped mercuries, but he was able to tell it was a 1950's custom. All the chrome were replaced and the running gear was updated with a Chevrolet 350 engine with a Turbo-Hydra transmisson which was connected to a 9 inch Ford rear end. Joe installed power steering from a half ton 1976 Ford pickup. Inside the car was upholstered with gray fabric clothing. Joe also installed air-condition and a stereo. During the restoration progress, Joe found a copy of Hop Up April 1952 and realized what he had. It was to late to restore it as it was over 30 years ago.
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