The Wally Welch Mercury (Ayala Bros. version)

The Wally Welch Mercury (Ayala Bros. version)

There are so many iconic 49-51 Mercs built in the early 50s, but Wally’s car has always stood out to me as one of the best. Maybe it was the April 1952 Hop Up cover image with the wild metallic lime green paint, but this custom really strikes the perfect balance of trim, proportions and stance in my book. It all started 61 years ago when Wally Welch took his brand new 1950 Mercury to Gil and Al Ayala for it’s radical transformation. The headlights were brought forward 3″ and frenched with no rings (a look later copied on many shoebox Fords and Mercs), while the hood corners were rounded and gravel shield was molded into the fenders. The toothy grille was made up of brand new 1951 DeSoto pieces, for the first time on a custom Merc. Of course the car was shaved of handles and ornaments, it was nosed and decked, and lower significantly, by way of a C notched frame. The chop is one of the best chops of the era, which entailed 4 inches removed in the front, 5 more in the rear, and drip rails shaved clean off. The rounded door corners just add that extra elegance, with door poppers hidden in the side trim (also copied on later customs). Keep in mind that many these Mercury customizing techniques were being figured out as they went, and yet this car still holds up so very well all these years later. Talk about getting it right the first time. (Barris later modified it a bit further and resprayed the car deep purple, but this original incarnation by the Ayala Brothers has the right restraint)

Update: If your in the Bay Area, this car will be at the Palo Alto Concours on Sunday! http://www.paconcours.com/

(thanks to Rik Hoving for images)

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