Kip Cyprus & the Mercury

Kip Cyprus introduces us to the 1951 Mercury

“To me, stated Kip Cyprus “the ’49 to ’51 Mercurys – when you say ‘lead sled’- the Mercury is what we would consider a “lead sled”. As you can see, there are a lot of different kinds of cars.
This car, I’ve had for 25 years. It was my first custom. I went from being a muscle car guy to, ‘Hey, I want to have a custom,’ and I started looking at what was out there and what was cool and I decided, hey, I want a ’50 Merc, kind of a James Dean style.”

“James Dean style Mercs got their name because he had taken the Mercuries and really brought them to a higher level as far as publicity. What guys would do back then is, (a ’49 to ’51 Mercury, typical, the ultimate Mercury is probably a 1950. I prefer a ’51, and I’ll show you. It has a little bit different fins in the back than a ’50, a 1950. What the guys would do back then, is use cheap horsepower”, stated Kip Cyprus.

“Cheap horsepower came from a Chevrolet V8. So, it was very common. The guy would go up to the junkyard, (the time being 1960) he’s got this hand-me-down ’51 Merc from Dad, and he goes to the junkyard, finds himself a ’57 fully Corvette engine because that’s what you wanted to do. They put the ’57 Corvette motor inside of it.

And then, it was very common—the ’64 T-Bird and ’62 T-Birds had the interiors, and it was real common that the guys would go after the interior from the T-Bird and convert the rear back seats. A lot of them are chopped. This car is not chopped. I didn’t want to chop it because it was such a nice car to start with. But I kept the visor on it. It gives it that chop look without really having to chop the car.

As you can see, this car runs on bags, so it can sit all the way down and it has a little ride height drivability mode and then high mode for curbs.

The motor replicates a ’57 Fuelie motor. It’s been equipped with a modern fuel injection system on top of it. This is an older restoration custom build, maybe 25 years ago. The components we have today are better. If you’re doing one today, you could do it even more, but I really like to keep, when you’re customizing the cars, modifying them, I like to keep the originality—what would have been correct to the era.

Not so much just go to the store and buy whatever’s on the shelf at the hot rod shop. I like to really fabricate the parts so that either they are true correct real old speed parts, restored, or that we turn them to make them look old if we have to go with the newer part.

The 1951 Mercury normally would have had the push knobs up high, and then it would have a couple of holes in the grill. This grille has been modified, so it’s just all the teeth have been added. Additional teeth and then the buttons, the snubbers are shaved down. Another interesting part about the car running the Cadillac hubcaps was real common.

And then notice the curb. So when we metal did the car, we took the skirts and we flush-mounted the skirts. Typically, the skirts would be sitting on the outside of the body. We shaved them all down and shoved them in.

Neat little features, power windows. Kept the ’50s style upholstery. Didn’t keep it; we added it. It would have been more like a vinyl bench with no pleats, the back seats. This is really the trick on these cars, like a little love seat back there.

But if you come back here, what distinguishes a ’51 from the ’49 and ’50 is the tail. They have the little tail fins, which I preferred. So, I started with a ’51 rather than a ’50.

But I think if you ask America what’s the ultimate lead sled, they would say a 1950 Mercury. Also, another feature that must-have—you gotta fringe in the antenna, wrench it in. Same thing, bumpers, everything’s been tightened in. Little bumperettes shaved down and pushed in”, concluded Kip Cyprus.

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