This 1954 Mercury Monterey Gasser isn't a car for just anyone, but the guys who were there know that it represents a special time in hot rod history that we'll never see again. Nostalgia being what it is, this cool hardtop fairly accurately re-creates the early '60s drag race experience in a slightly more user-friendly form that you can actually drive and enjoy on the street today.
With a frame-off built and more than $40,000 in receipts, this wasn't a half-hearted project but rather a labor of love. If you were there, you will instantly recognize the look and while you don't see many Mercury Gassers, it certainly looks good dressed for combat. The body was smoothed and straightened, with many of the details being removed, including the door handles, side trim, and hood scoop/ornament. Nevertheless, it's still easy to spot its Mercury DNA, from the faired-in headlights to the distinctive shape of the rear fender and quarter panels, to the taillights, which are some of the most beautiful of the era. The paint has a good shine, almost too good to be a race car, but that's kind of the point with this car. There's not much chrome, and even the rear bumper has been painted to give it an industrial-strength look. Really, the only thing missing is some door art and a few larger sponsor decals, and suddenly it's 1962 all over again.
At first glance, you'd think this is race car throughout, but then you notice just how beautifully crafted the interior really is. Sure, there are race-grade bucket seats with 5-point harnesses and a roll cage, but there's also a beautifully stitched headliner, gorgeous door panels that look straight out of the '50s, and a bright red dashboard with plenty of chrome trim. A custom billet aluminum insert hoses a full array of gauges and there's a monster tach up top where it'll do the most good. As a nod to civility, there's also a center console with cup holders and an AM/FM/CD stereo system with remote control. The windows are Lexan and can be completely removed and the trick shifter manages a PowerGlide 2-speed automatic transmission, which has long been the transmission of choice for drag racers. The trunk isn't for storage any longer, now housing a custom fuel cell and a pair of auxiliary jerry cans, just in case.
The original Y-block just wouldn't hold up to the stresses of the track, so there's a more familiar 283 cubic inch Chevy V8 in its place. With an .030 overbore, 9:1 compression, high output heads, and an Edelbrock intake and 4-barrel carburetor, it's plenty potent but also docile enough to be friendly on the street. It runs on pump gas and definitely has a race-ready look with heavy-duty ignition wires and chrome open-element air cleaner. Red paint on the block is a nod to its FoMoCo history, but that's the only thing Blue Oval under the hood. The aforementioned PowerGlide feeds what might be the original 3.59-geared rear end, which hangs on leaf springs augmented with traction bars. Speedway Motors supplied the straight axle kit and there's a Vega steering box which works well. Disc brakes, custom fender well headers and side pipes, and modern shocks add up to a car that's traditional but still usable. Weld skinnies and fat Torque Thrusts have that old-school look and carry suitable big-n-little radials to complete the look.
This car isn't for everyone, we know that. But if you were there and respect the era, this car will take you back without forcing you to go full race. Call today!