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Old 10-19-2005, 11:00 AM   #1
Rikster
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Default MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

This first gold green edition of the Bettancourt Mercury is seldom seen in magazines. Three photo’s of it appeared in the ’52 Restyle your Car, the April ‘53 Issue of Popular Mechanics and it was featured on the cover and inside of the ’52 Motorama catalog.
Becuase it was never in the magazines a lot it appears not many people know to much about this version of the car. In issue 29 Of the Rodders Journal Pat Ganahl wrote in the Sam Barris mercury story that "the Bettancourt Mercury went to Barris to get final finish an paint (and crest, of coars), so Sam Barris Merc was finished first." Well I believe that Ayala did finish the Bettancourt mercury. The credit in the "'52 Restyle your car" was given to Gil Ayala. (Gil Ayala built this fine example of a Simple-Conservative custom Merc).





Extreme clean appearance. The fadeaway line looks extremely well in combination with teh chopped top, angled b pillars and rounded hood and trunk corners



The ayala brothers performed all of the customizing on the first edition of the Bettancourt Mercury. The ayala’s where together with Sam Barris and Jerry Quesnel the first to chop a 49 Mercury. Ayala chopped the top and created a very smooth flowing roofline and just as Sam did on his personal ’49 Mercury Ayala also created full fade away fenders. Not sure if these two builders had contact with each other or had seen each others work, or that is was just a case of two genious craftsman with the same idear at the same time.

All corners including both on top and botom of the trunk where rounded with a larger that "ussual" radious




Ayala createdvery craceful taillights out of round rod and sheet metals and hand formed the lenses from red Lucite.




A second grille shell was turned upside down and molded in the front gravel pan to create an extremely smooth and rounded opening in which a ’51 Kaiser floating grille bar was mounted. The hood corners where rounded with a large radious on the front which flows perfectly with the frenshed headlight and at the back of the hood the ends where cut of with a large radius and the remaining piece was molded to the cowl and front fender. The flowing line gently sweeps into the chopped windshield frame. The trunk corners where rounded in a similar fashion.
What is really exceptional on this version of the car is that it has nearly no chrome accents on the outside. No side trim and even the side window trim was removed. Only a few accents chrome accents where added, the grille bar and a set of 112 appleton spots. The bumpers where stock 49 Mercury items. Most likely the interior could not be redone in time for a show and remained all stock. The body was painted a “Scintillating green gold” and the gauges clusters on the dash where chrome plated.



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Last edited by Rikster; 05-10-2010 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 10-19-2005, 11:02 AM   #2
Rikster
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

The Barris Version of the Bettancourt Mercury.

In late ’52 or early 53 Louie wanted to update his custom Merc and brought it to Barris. The second version of the Bettancourt Merc is one of the few second version that is as good and perhaps even in improvement over the original version. Ussual second versions get overdone and are just to get ahead of the changes in the scene, but not so with the Barris version of the Bettancourt Mercury. The modifications done by Barris to Ayala’s original custom work where subtile, stylish and with respect for its original look. The original car had the feel of a 40’s custom with its all shaved body. Barris must have realized a bit more sparkling and lines/directions (side trim) where needed to make this custom flow just a bit better.

Below the Bettancourt Merc can be seen at the Barris shop.The body has been sanded and prepped and looks to be ready for it new paint.







Al the wonderful Ayala bodywork was left alone, that was perfect already. A ’49 Cadillac side trim was added to the side, mounted lower than the stock Merc position and actually covering the top of the wheel opening, thus visual lowering the car.





A extremely beautifull grille was fabricated (arguably one of Barris best grilles) using several ‘52 grilles for the horizontal part and 51 Ford grille end tips. The teeth inside came from a 52 Mercury.




The stock Mercury bumpers where replaced with ’53 Pontiac Deluxe items with those wonderful end extentions. The rear bumper was made from a narrowed and recontoured front bumper. Both front and rear where fitted with ’52 Kaiser guards. And at the rear the exhaust was routed thru the guard bullets. The rear end extentions of the bumper work absolutely wonderful with the frenched headlights Ayala did a few years ago.






The Caddy Sombrero hubcaps where replaced with ’53 Studebaker units with fake knockoff’s and fitted with Barris crest. (imho the one thing that was overdone on this version). Two Barris Crest where also added to the frontfenders just in front of the doors. Barris painted the Bettancourt Merc in a mile deep Tingia maroon. Glen Houser of the Carson Top Shop created a fantastic interior using an egg-white tuck & roll with wine colored fabric which was butten tuffed.







In '56 Bettancourt sold his merc to Johnny Zupan and he had Barris made a third version of it. This time however all Barris did was just to much and I lost intrest in the car.





Much later the car was owned by Dean Jeffries and the car had undergone some more ugly modifications including quad headlights!!! The custom was stoledn of his property and never seen again. Although some believe it still ecits somewhere, nobody seams to really know where. I hope however thatone day this car will become in the hands of a tru custom car enthusiast and be turned into its first or second edition. This one is a true milestone custom that should be around for us to enjoy.
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Last edited by Rikster; 05-10-2010 at 02:12 AM.
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Old 10-19-2005, 11:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Excellent compilation as usual Rikster


Thanks
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Old 10-19-2005, 11:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Another great post by teh Rikster!

I love those Mercs with the fenderline straightened on the door.
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Old 10-19-2005, 11:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Your timing is perfect. I was reading the article in RJ (again) about Sam's Merc. When they mentioned the Bettancourt's Merc. I started digg'n through my mags to find pictures so I could compare the two.

I really appreciate your post.

Happy Trails,

Mick
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Old 10-19-2005, 04:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Keep 'em coming, Rik ! Your the main man here !

Best
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Old 10-19-2005, 04:46 PM   #7
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Talking Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

I just love the rear lamps on this car, great post as always
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Old 10-19-2005, 04:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

WOW. That second version is really doing it for me, at all angles.









Thank you for sharing, Rikster.
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Old 10-19-2005, 05:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotgas
WOW. That second version is really doing it for me, at all angles.









Thank you for sharing, Rikster.
I wonder why the first version had a 50 Merc rear bumperguard on it and not a 49.
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Old 10-19-2005, 06:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

That is my all time favorite Merc...Nice job as usual holmes!
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Old 10-20-2005, 02:29 AM   #11
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Quote:
Originally Posted by 00 MACK
I wonder why the first version had a 50 Merc rear bumperguard on it and not a 49.
00MACK, Perhaps those guards where accessorie items in late 49? Sam Barris and Jerry Quesnel used them on thiere 49 Merc's as well. Also the rear window on the Bettancourt Merc is a one piece unit. so most likely the car was a late '49 Merc when thie where outfitted with single piece rear windows. Or perhaps Ayala replaced them with a '50 rear window. (Jerry Quesnel's merc aslo had the singel piece rear window while Sam Barris still used the three piece early '49 Merc rear window glass)
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Old 10-20-2005, 07:40 AM   #12
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Thanks for sharing! Good pics...........OLDBEET
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:18 AM   #13
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Hindsight is 20/20, but how many here think that the Kaiser bumperguard on the front end is unneccessary and doesn't fit the lines? And why were 2 holes left in the center of the bumper?

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Old 10-20-2005, 08:26 AM   #14
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Bumperguards usually adds a more heavy and luxury appearance. The
crossbar and style is probably to follow up the rear version. I guess the two
holes are for the license plate bracket...
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:43 AM   #15
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Thanks!! That's just what I needed to get my day started. I lik ethe first Barris incarnation the best . The grille is fantastic and the side spears add some flash to the rather sanitay horizontal lines.

As I was reading I was wondering if you were going to reference that R&C article asit has stuck with me all these years. The Bettancourt Merc is one of my all time favorites.

Has it ever been found?
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:43 AM   #16
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4t64rd
Hindsight is 20/20, but how many here think that the Kaiser bumperguard on the front end is unneccessary and doesn't fit the lines? And why were 2 holes left in the center of the bumper?
Well I think best would have been to flatten the Kaiser guard so it would be totally horizontal when viewed from the front. And perhaps also lowered a bit so it would not interfere with the wonderful grille. I agree with JB and the guard add to the luxery feel of the car. And my guess for teh holes left int hte bumper are also for license plate mounting.
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:51 AM   #17
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotgas
WOW. That second version is really doing it for me, at all angles.
Well one reason why this all works together so extremely well is because everything is molded so georgious. The beltline trim is removed and the crease there was completely molded and rounded with a similar roundness as the fade away fender line, or any other parts that where molded. The top door corner was rounded with excactly the perfect radious to folow the inside radious perfectly. Also it appears to me that Ayala actually removed some material from the thickness of the door portion of the B-pillar which is slightly wider on a stock mercury (wider at the B-pillar section than at the top) If this is sthe case it must have been an enormous amount of work... (Wolf Christiansson made me aware of this).
So, to me the Bettancourt Merc has it all simply becasue it was very well designed. all molded elements where thought over and not just molded to make it look differnt. Same for the rounded corners, they where designed to make the car look almost liquid.
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Old 10-20-2005, 11:01 AM   #18
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rikster
Well I think best would have been to flatten the Kaiser guard so it would be totally horizontal when viewed from the front. And perhaps also lowered a bit so it would not interfere with the wonderful grille. I agree with JB and the guard add to the luxery feel of the car. And my guess for teh holes left int hte bumper are also for license plate mounting.
Yup, if it was flattened and shortened like the rear one, It would mimic the shape of the top grill lip and look right.
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Old 10-22-2005, 01:49 PM   #19
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

The Louis Bettancourt Mercury-the most streamlined Merc ever like Pat Ganahl once put it so right.Great car and great post !!! I knew this Milestone Custom would be next on your list since we lately talked about this Merc,I even could see your eyes gleaming in that certain e-mail.As we can see from Rikster's great pics the Ayala's were fully responsible for the "basic"- design of this Merc.Yes,everything's gently molded and it's one of those cars on which it really works.This Merc and Keith Weesner's Shoebox Ford make me appreciate the shaved driprail,and yes,the shaved belt line trim adds to the visual impact too,so does the fadeaway.Great car ! I also think the second version rules.Just remove those spinners,crests,maybe remove the front Kaiser bumperguard and make the quarter windows a little bit more pointy.It looks "too round" to me.Just my humble opinion.Other than that it's one hell of a car and it could be the best Merc ever.Here's one pic of "Luigi" standing next to the masterpiece.I know,I said it before but I like those pics on which somebody stands next to the car.This makes you appreciate the proportions.The pic is huge but I thought this way it will hit you like a hammer...



As a side note,the top was chopped 3".The front was lowered 4" and the rear 6".This information is supplied without liability as GeeBee mixed up some things in his otherwise great books ! For any tall guys out there who might be interested in how to get back in and sit in that chopped Merc,here's what has been done to the Bettancourt Merc.Seat was lowered and top of seats also were cut down and reslanted to make more room behind the white painted '49 Merc steering wheel...



The interior was done by the famous Carson Top Shop and it's too busy for me.I like interiors simple just like the outside of cars but that maybe could change if I'd see the car in person.So let's hope somebody may find the Louis Bettancourt Merc one day and bring it back to the glamorous 1953 Hollywood look...thanks Rik !!!
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Old 10-22-2005, 03:57 PM   #20
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Default Re: MILESTONE CUSTOM CARS: Louie Bettancourt 49 Merc

Hey Rikster,another great post.You may want to contact Terry Cook(Lead East show)his Hamb name is "Terrydactile".He may have some more info on this great custom.
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