Recreating the 1957 Mercury Mermaid
race car began by finding the
right car to make the conversion. The origional Mercury Mermaid race car
was basically a modified 2 dr. Mercury Marauder, Mercury's full-sized
car at the time. I particularly looked around for a nice rust-free
car that was in fair shape mechaically and needed as little bodywork as
possible. I also wanted the car to be as complete as possible because
finding parts for these older Mercs can be downright challenging.
After a good deal of looking I finally found the "right" car.
The body was in excellent condition but the interior toast. But fortunately
that wouldn't matter for this project. I went right to work stripping
it down and was pleased to find it in good mechanical condition - especially
for an unrestored 57 Merc. Once the car was striped, the next step was
to surgically remove the roof and begin planning the canopy and fin section.
(Click on thumbnails for more detail)
In the picture to the left you can see the aluminum tonneau cover has
been completed. I had Beans and Bob Coggeshall at Performance Stainless
in Appleton, WI roll it out on an English Wheel. They did a terrific job.
Once the tonneau was formed and properly fitted, work on the fin could
begin. Beans did some very creative work recreating the shape of the fin
from old photos and 16mm film clips. A model was built from cardboard
to facilitate the task. It was important to get the size, proportions
and curvature to the base set beforehand. Then Beans used the cardboard
model as a guide to form a fin out of Aluminum sheet. A good deal of skillful
bending, hammering and welding was required to produce the right shape.
As you can see from the photos it turned out super. Finally, the newly
made fin, tonneau cover, along with the car were all taken to Kustom Touch
in Stevens Point, WI where John and Dave performed some additional tweaking
and prepped it for paint and bodywork.
fin turned out fantastic and the car is beginning to take shape! We could
have made it out of fiberglass, but I wanted to stick with original materials
the tonneau was completed, restoration the rest of the car could begin.
Here you see what it looked like before being sandblasted and stripped
to bare steel.
She's coming along! Work on the car itself was pretty straightforward.
First the frame, interior and underside was sandblasted and painted, then
the rest of the car completely striped. Fortunately, we found few surprises
along the way. The guys at Kustom Touch (Stevens Point, WI) did their
usual magic on the body and paint. Here you can see how she looked after
returning from the bodyshop. Notice the rollcage in the passenger's compartment.
The interior was very spartan on the original Mermaid to conserve weight.
I'll follow the same approach. As you can see, the roll cage is finished
and work on the gauge cluster is nearing completion.
you can see what the tonneau cover looks like after paint and bodywork.
Mercury "M" was carefully scripted to the fin just as on the
orginal '57 Mermaid.