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  Mermaid Project - Bringn'er back!

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.


The 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


Once 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.

Here you can see what the tonneau cover looks like after paint and bodywork.



The Mercury "M" was carefully scripted to the fin just as on the orginal '57 Mermaid.



These pictures show the snug fit of the exhaust headers in the engine compartment.



I had Bob Coggeshall at Performance Stainless in Appleton, WI weld up the headers from Stainless Steel. They are gorgeous works of art that are faithful to the style and fit of the originals.


At this point the car is nearly finished. Once everything had been assembled, the suspension could be tweaked to achieve the proper ride height. It's amazing how much lighter a car weighs after removing it's roof, interior, glass, etc.

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