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Projects A Speedster Comes Out of the Weeds—Build Thread

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ClarkH, Dec 25, 2015.

  1. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,162


    This is a long-overdue build thread on my speedster. This project is my first attempt at something of this scale, and I owe the HAMB and everyone here an enormous debt of gratitude—over the years, the insights and guidance posted on this forum have been invaluable.

    The story begins five years ago with me finding this car totally overgrown in the backyard of a nearby rental house.


    I didn’t know what it was, except that it looked cool. I tracked down the property owner, who put me in touch the car owner (his brother), who gave me its history.

    The car was built in the early 1950s by a kid who worked at a local machine shop. That was the era of the Mechanix Illustrated speedsters, and this car was created along those lines—sort of a cross between a miniature Auburn and a European sports car. It was driven hard for about 10 years, at which point it was worn out. The owner acquired it in the late ‘60s, with the intention of rebuilding.

    The owner put the car in an outbuilding in his parents’ yard. Over time the building collapsed and was hauled away. The car sat exposed for more than 40 years, becoming a garden trellis for weeds. Nevertheless, we all know how it goes: he planned to fix it up someday, so not for sale.

    Undeterred, I stayed in contact. I called him every few weeks to talk about the car, why he’d originally bought it, what his plans were then, what they were now. Finally I convinced him I was the guy to take over his dream. A deal was struck and the car was mine.

    I know how much everyone likes “find” pictures, so I’ll end this first post with pictures of the car being extracted from its weedy resting place.




  2. Now that is way Kool. I sure hope this is going to be a Before and After story.
    The Wizzard
  3. dutchrod
    Joined: Feb 5, 2009
    Posts: 403


    Nice project , gotta love speedsters
  4. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,937


    Really cool, get going on it! Gary:)

  5. mlake01
    Joined: Mar 24, 2015
    Posts: 42


    Awesome! Watching with riveted attention...

    Sent from my fart smone using crapatalk
  6. Very nice, I cant beleive the tires hold air. Will be watching progress.
  7. I'm hooked, now for famous Hamber quote....
    "Waiting patiently" :D
  8. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,162


    Thank you all for the enthusiastic responses! Yes, there's plenty more coming--I've got a couple year's worth of progress to report, and a couple days off work in which to do it.

    Going back to the day I brought the car home, first order of business was to mock it up and start figuring out what it was. It came with a bunch of extra parts that had been stored in a garage with a leaking roof. It was very traditional in the sense that it was a real mishmash: big touring car chassis (badly butchered), motorcycle/trike fenders, homemade splash guards, homemade windshield frame, Guide bullet headlights, Chevy bumpers, and a very long and cool 10-panel hood off a 1932 LaSalle.


    The body was a total mystery, however. The PO insisted it was homemade, but I didn’t think so. It was too well constructed, and there was a serial number stamped into the remains of the firewall. It had been something—the question is, what?

    I realize now if I’d posted it to the HAMB I probably would have had an ID in about an hour. :) As it was, it took me six months to figure out exactly what I had.

    Turns out, my car is a Mercury Speedster, produced by the Mercury Body Corporation of St. Louis. The firm constructed custom bodies for use on Ford and Chevrolet chassis from 1920 to 1926. My car is one of about 1,600 made.


    The deck lid is what finally enabled me to get a positive ID. Believe it or not, it was still in there, leaded into the tail section. Here’s some pictures from when I used a butane torch to get it out. This oval deck lid is a distinctive Mercury feature, jokingly referred to by some as the “toilet seat.”


    Last edited: Dec 29, 2015
  9. peter schmidt
    Joined: Aug 26, 2007
    Posts: 660

    peter schmidt
    from maryland

    So cool. Nice find/save
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  10. Love the toilet seat, one of 1600 made, this is even better than I first thought.
    Carry on Sir. :)
  11. hasty
    Joined: Jul 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,410


    Good find and start - I'm along for the ride. Please keep us posted. First two year build thread bonus start sounds good....
  12. mrquickwhip
    Joined: Oct 15, 2009
    Posts: 555

    Member it
  13. Sporty45
    Joined: Jun 1, 2015
    Posts: 1,021

    from NH Boonies

    Nice find. Looking forward to the progress pics!
    volvobrynk likes this.
  14. How about those Kool taillights? Do you have lenses for them? If not a couple close up photos right here may be the helping hand you need to come up with them.
    The Wizzard
  15. 55willys
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 1,672


    Very cool, can't wait to see your progress to date.
  16. ROADSTER1927
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 2,937


    This is FANTASTIC:cool:, do it up right:)! Gary
  17. Yeah ? Yeah ? So then what happens ??? Looks bitchin' !!
  18. steinauge
    Joined: Feb 28, 2014
    Posts: 1,507

    from 1960

    Great stuff! Keep on posting.
  19. Floorboardinit
    Joined: Dec 2, 2004
    Posts: 771


    Awesome, I had noticed the picture of the car in your avatar and that you were a pnw guy but hadnt heard much else about it. I assume youve talked to Jarvis, hes pretty much the foremost expert on mercury body cars. Keep us updated, super neat car and im amazed its survived as well as it has considering how it was stored. JohnnyA
    Spooky, Stogy and ClarkH like this.
  20. I just googled these cars.
    There's a good amount of pics.
    I'll bet there were plenty of hardcase remarks made about that rear end.:D
  21. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,544


    Oh man, every Model T guy dreams of finding one of these! They did make bodies that were a bit longer for the Chevrolet chassis as well. If I had to give you free advice I'd say find a T chassis, and build a T Speedster. Bob AFTER Hersher 2015 1043.jpg
  22. What a classic find!More......
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  23. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,162


    Sadly, those taillights had rotted to paper-thin and disintegrated when I tried to remove them. But I found some really cool replacements at the Puyallup swap meet.

    Oh yes, I've talked to Jarvis--he tracked me down a while ago. He's been by to check it out, and just last week I was over at his place taking measurements. In fact, getting a thumbs up on my project from an expert like Jarvis is what finally convinced me to do this thread.

    Hi Bob, I was hoping you'd find this thread. Don't know if you remember, but I've bought a few things from you over the last couple years and promised you a thread someday...and here it is! This car is actually one of the Chevrolet bodies you're talking about, according to the serial number. Choice of chassis was quite the conundrum--I'll get to that soon.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
    Stogy, kidcampbell71 and volvobrynk like this.
  24. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,544


    It's always good to read build threads, lots of times it motivates us to work on our own projects. There are a few Mercury Speedster guys here on the HAMB that can help with things I'm sure. Do you think your body had two doors when it was new? I never knew the bodies had serial numbers. Bob
  25. 33sporttruck
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 532


    kiwijeff likes this.
  26. Cool to see this finally! Funny enough I ran into a guy in a 1925 t coupe down by Greenlake the other day that knows you and was telling me about your car.
    kidcampbell71 and ClarkH like this.
  27. volvobrynk
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,587

    from Denmark

    Please don't take this in the wrong way, but they was build for Model T, and a small number was build to put it on a chevy frame.
    I would say that if he got a chevy body on a chevy frame. I would fix that body, and put it back on the/a chevy frame or one just like it?

    And since the chevy frame is better then a Model T frame, regarding stiffness, and are born to take Chevy AD axels with brakes, even a Nissan hard body rear axle fits. If you want some options.
    And further more the Chevy AD series are one of the most well backed trucks in the aftermarked world only equaled by 1932-34 Ford pick up, so I see no reason to look for a Model T frame.

    There is a sh1t load of suspension/brakes/dropped front axles avalible, and you can get all your parts at almost any parts store, near you when on the go.

    I would also state that the body is pretty rare, and should be fixed accordingly! But the frame parts are dime'a'dusin, and hence this being the HAMB, hot rod that frame and drivetrain to your liking and with out mercy, be threat the body with respect!

    Just my 2cents.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
  28. m.kozlowski
    Joined: Nov 2, 2011
    Posts: 140


    Very cool find! I don't dig that toilet seat trunk opening though :)
    It amazes me that You guys over there in USA can find junk like that in bushes near your house and turn that into jewels... :)
    yruhot, ClarkH, 55willys and 3 others like this.

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