1948 Mercury Convertible Coupe
This 1948 Mercury convertible coupe is one of only 7586 built and offers a warmed over 1953 Mercury engine, which is widely regarded as the pinnacle of flathead development
There’s no question that the early post-war years were a seller’s market, but that didn’t stop Ford from improving their cars each year. The styling was similar, but by 1948, the engines were making more power, and legendary road test editor Tom McCahill at “Mechanix Illustrated” magazine lauded their performance. During one cross-country trip in a 1946 Ford, he wrote, “At times my speed had been reduced from 70 to as little as 15 mph, but it was still in high and kept going without a buck. Across Texas and through Arizona I had driven this new engine as much as 650 miles in a day, several times covering as much as 70 miles in a single hour, so I can say with assurance that if there is an engine around that will top the Mercury for high speed cruising, and I mean an engine that does it without strain or heating up, then I don't know about it.” Styling was crisp and not over-detailed, and retained some of the pre-war fat-fendered look that has become timeless today.
This 1948 Mercury convertible coupe is one of only 7586 built, and offers those same handsome good looks and combines them with a warmed over 1953 Mercury engine, which is widely regarded as the pinnacle of flathead development. Finished in Pheasant Red, a correct 1948 Mercury color, the paint has a soft shine that is entirely appropriate to the vintage, and devoid of metallic that instantly reveals an inauthentic finish. The bodywork was quite well done, and the car fits together well overall. The doors and trunk align nicely, and the hood fits snugly, although weak original springs on the hinges require some care to get the hood closed properly. Clearly restored to be driven and enjoyed, there are, of course, a few signs of use, but no signs of damage and judging by the condition of the floors, it has never been rusty. Correct welting was used on the fenders, and no liberties were taken with the trim, all of which remains in place and brightly polished. It appears that chrome details like the bumpers and front grilles have been restored, and it is fitted with accessories such as bumper tips and guards, which in the back house an auxiliary pair of turn signal indicators. The hood ornament is obviously not original, but we are currently searching for a correct replacement piece. All the stainless shows light patina, but no damage or other issues. Only the dual exhaust system with accessory V8 tips gives away this car’s otherwise stock appearance.
Restored and finished in matching maroon vinyl, the interior is a fantastic place to spend a few hours on a sunny afternoon. The seat cushions are plain and not exactly correct for 1948, but they are nicely finished and quite comfortable, thanks to fresh materials underneath. Black carpets contrast nicely and match the black canvas top overhead, and the door panels are beautifully finished with original woven fabric inserts. Seatbelts have been fitted for safety, along with a set of floor mats to protect the carpets. Original woodgrained moldings have been accurately restored, including those atop both doors and the dashboard. The gauges all appear to have been restored, with crisp faces and clear markings, but as the car has been converted to a 12-volt electrical system, they are sadly not functional. Auxiliary gauges for oil pressure, temperature, and voltage have been mounted below the center stack in a panel that has also been woodgrained to match the dash. The original AM radio remains in the dash, but a modern AM/FM/CD stereo head unit has been hidden in the glove box, along with a pair of powerful speakers hidden under the dash to deliver the sound. The original heater/defroster unit is fully functional, as is the power top, whose hydraulic cylinders were replaced in January 2011. The trunk is finished with a correct rubber mat, and includes a full-sized matching spare tire and wheel.
The engine is a late 1953 Mercury flathead, displacing 255 cubic inches and wearing a set of EAC cylinder heads. Widely regarded as the best of the flatheads, it has been dressed in green paint as original, and fitted with a few minor performance pieces such as headers and a high-lift camshaft. There is a two-barrel carburetor under the original oil bath air cleaner, and the alternator has been mounted in the correct location and painted satin black to help blend in. It shows some signs of having been driven over the past several years—after all, it was built to cruise—but overall it’s tidy and clean and fully functional. It starts quickly thanks to the 12-volt electrical system, and settles instantly into a lumpy idle, compliments of the performance cam inside. Throttle response is instant, and the car has a wonderful hot rod sound that’s a joy on the road. With light action from the 3-speed manual transmission and firm brakes, it is a pleasure to drive, and cruises easily at modern highway speeds. Underneath, it is solid and rust-free, including the original floors and trunk, and it tracks straight thanks to a set of recent 6.00-16 Firestone wide whites on a set of steel wheels with hubcaps and beauty rings.
This car also includes a set of original steel fender skirts which have been restored and painted to match, but are not currently installed.
This is a handsome, capable, and flat-out fun convertible for not a lot of money. It would be impossible to restore another car to this level for the price, and it needs nothing to be enjoyed immediately. The upgrades, including the entertainment system, make it a car that can be driven every day, and a dedicated hobbyist could easily remedy the last few details, such as getting the original gauges functional again. A true wolf in sheep’s clothing, it delivers period-perfect performance in an attractive, well-rounded package.