As a teenager in the fifties, it was my good fortune to drive a 1951 Mercury. I was driving that car when I started dating the love of my life and life partner, and continued driving it for a decade as we started our family.
Now in later life I am doubly fortunate to again be driving a 1951 Mercury. It's not the same car, but you'd never know that by looking at it.
Here's the story.
Some years ago I began writing family-oriented memoirs, and in one segment described the Mercury of my youth in some detail (including black and white photos), and in rather glowing terms. As it happens one of our daughters is married to a “car guy” who has done a number of restorations. From my writing he became interested in that car.
We did not talk very much about that car, but on a few occasions he sent me links to similar cars he had seen for sale on-line. I was interested to see them and learn how rare it is to find one as it looked back then, but didn't seriously consider taking it further. Nor did I guess that he would, but without telling me, he eventually acquired a 1951 Mercury and began an ambitious restoration project.
The restoration car was unimproved but in as good a condition as one might hope for in a car over 60 years old. It was a coupe, just as I had driven years ago. It was drivable if not reliable, with some body damage and rust. And the interior definitely showed its age.
His restoration left no stone unturned. The engine was pulled and numerous parts replaced. Mechanically, brakes were completely redone, wiring harness (6v) replaced, and radiator and gas tank replaced. The body was disassembled, stripped to bare metal, and damage and rust were repaired. Every chrome piece was redone and the stainless polished. Then a beautiful clear-coat paint job made the exterior look like new. The interior was also completely restored -- a batch of original fabric was located and was used to exactly reproduce the original interior. And five new (wide) white wall tires were also part of the project, matching the Kelly-Springfield tires I remembered so fondly.
The acquisition and all the restoration work was completed without our having any knowledge of it. Then without warning, our daughter and son-in-law arrived at our house with the finished car and presented it to my wife and I as a gift! Our initial encounter with it was mind boggling! The car was at once perfectly familiar yet totally out of place. We both still had clear memories of our original car, and the restored car was a perfect match with all those memories. But it was astonishing to have it back in front of us all these years later.
Every detail I had mentioned in the writing about my first Mercury was meticulously followed in the restoration. The 1951 Mercury color codes were used to provide an exact match to the colors of the car we drove in the fifties. The dual exhaust and rear fender skirts I had back then were added in the restoration, and the same rear lowering blocks were installed. The flathead V8 sounded just as mellow as I remembered, and even the Studebaker hubcaps that I had found so neat back in the day were there. The Merc is a wondrous sight that draws us into a time warp each time we look at it.
Our amazement at this gift will never subside -- words are not enough to express our heartfelt appreciation for this incredible gift.