The Dave DiRico ’49 Merc

The Dave DiRico ’49 Merc

John Helmuth (Helmuthbrothers) is a lot like me. He has a passion for old cars as well as a love for obsolete film cameras that are irrationally worth almost as much as the cars we shoot with them. It’s absolutely stupid in every sense of the word, but neither of us care. It’s just another sickness.

On an almost weekly basis we talk through private messages on the HAMB about our latest camera acquisitions, films, and nerdy shit like that. A few weeks back, John sent over a few sample shots from his “new” Leica M5 and the idea finally struck me – “Dude, why aren’t you shooting for The Jalopy Journal?”

His first assignment was an easy one – Dave DiRico’s 1949 Mercury. I say “easy,” because I’ve always felt that’s the way a custom car should be. A good stance, some subtractions, maybe some subtle additions, and then… DONE.

Appropriately, Dave started with the stance. He used Fat Man dropped spindles and cut half a coil up front. Out back, he used Posies Super Slider springs and 4-inch blocks. Rolling stock is just that – stock wheels painted red (thanks for that) and 15×710 Goodyear tires with 4.5″ whitewalls. DONE.

As for the body, he nosed and decked the car of course… and then, he shaved the handles. The side trim is stock, but he used shortened quarter panel trim on the front fenders. Two things cap this all off. First, are the almost required ’51 Merc fender skirts and second, a pretty rare factory accessory splash pan that fits between grille and the front bumper. The paint was handled by a couple of legends. Richard and Brandon Glymph sprayed the car a perfect shade of Washington Blue. Again, DONE.

On the inside it’s more of the same restraint. The dash was painted Washington Blue (Thanks Tom Tommaro) and Bone to match seats stitched up (Thanks Norman Haug) in a classic tuck and roll. From there, the stock gauges were redone. The car was rewired. And… DONE.

But remember, I said something about subtle additions too… Right? David did those where it counts the most – the engine bay. The stock Merc trans with overdrive is powered by a hot little flathead Merc that was bored 30 over with Egge pistons, an Isky 77-B cam, Edelbrock heads, an Edelbrock intake, a pair of Stromberg 97’s, Red’s headers, and a shit ton of other speed parts. The result is a clean, but obviously used engine bay that fits the car’s personality perfectly.

Anyway, John took David and his Merc out to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for the shoot. With him, he also brought his new Leica M5 along with a Voigtlander 35mm f2.5, a Summicron 50mm f2 Type 5, and an early 60s Summicron 90mm f2. He shot four rolls – Cinestill 50, Kodak Ektar 100, and 2 rolls of Kodak Porta 400.

The results, speak for themselves. Enjoy them fellas:




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