The 1951 Mercury has always been a favorite in the custom car culture.
‘They were given the ‘Lead Sled’ handle when they were chopped and slammed into one of the most iconic custom rides in the history of the car hobby.’
Lead was a popular component in the old school world of custom bodywork and the ’51 Merc received generous amounts of this malleable metal in the re-sculpting process.
The most famous ’51 Merc lead sled was a co-star in ‘American Graffiti’ and was driven by the punks in this famous movie.
A 1951 Mercury is a cool-looking car in stock form and we encountered one at a summer show. Owner Richard Schlosser rescued the Merc from a field where it had been a “mouse house” for many years.
Mice are always a problem for abandoned old cars in rural areas but Richard’s car was “full of mice”, in his words. The rodents had taken control of the old Merc and Richard decided to wrestle the car back from the destructive pests.
Richard’s battle to restore the car took him about 10 to 12 years because the Merc required some major repairs. The car had also been shot and required a new windshield and speedometer because both had sustained bullet holes.
Mice and the passage of time combined to ravage the wiring on the Merc, so Richard came up with a novel plan to replace the old electrical system with a similar style of cloth-covered wiring donated by an old city bus.
The body on the old Merc was a pleasant surprise, given the fact it had sat on the ground for many years. The rockers were shot and there was a small hole around the gas pedal that required attention. There was also a little body damage on the driver side rear quarter.
The hood was beaten up and distorted to a point where Richard needed to find another one. Richard gave credit to his body man buddy Bob who was heavily involved in the restoration process on the Merc.
One of the issues with the car was the fit on the Merc’s rear suicide doors. Bob described them as a “nightmare to line up” because they have one large hinge on each door. The hinges have no adjustment tolerances and forced them to bend them to properly align the doors.
The Merc still has its factory flathead V-8 that has been a reliable performer in the car for the past 66 years. Richard mentioned the Mercury’s engine was bigger than the Ford flattie and provided 110 horsepower.
The car is comfortable at 60 mph (100 km/h) on the highway and Richard does not believe in the trailer queen philosophy. “You drive ‘em and enjoy ‘em”, in his words.
He also said his Merc runs at normal temperatures on the highway and Richard attributes the cooler temperatures to his clean engine policy. “You gotta keep a clean engine”, according to Richard.
The Merc is essentially stock, although some astute MSCC readers may notice Richard has 1952 Mercury hub caps on his car. He also added an electric fuel pump to assist his mechanical pump with the flip of a switch when Richard encounters vapor lock.
The Merc has been on the road for a couple of years and Richard likes to take it to local shows.
‘He has done an amazing restoration on a car that was once a giant hotel for mice.’
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