Most car guys have a story about a car or truck fire sale but fewer actually close the deal.


Instead they file the experience under “should have bought it” and move on in life.   


‘Some guys act on the opportunity and bring home a trophy ride because they were smart enough to seize the moment and buy the classic piece of iron.’




Clark Haase pulled the trigger on his deal twenty years ago when his friend’s ’53 Mercury pickup came up for sale. Clark’s buddy ran into some financial whitewater so the toys like this truck became expendable. Clark’s a hardcore Ford Motor Company guy so this Merc truck was a good fit.




Clark’s a mechanic so he wasn’t intimidated by anything the Merc could throw at him so he scooped up the truck and brought it home. He was unimpressed with the truck’s condition at the time because he described the 302 as “butchered in” but he drove it that way for five years.




Clark is an extremely busy guy because he runs his own business and time is clearly a precious commodity but after five years he wanted to take his ’53 Mercury pickup to another level. He dismissed the idea of anything but Ford power in this truck because of his deep connection to the Blue Oval. Instead he went to the tried and true hot rod build default position—he found a donor engine.




The engine came from a large and in charge 1976 Mercury Marquis and it was a 460 big block so Clark went one step further by making his truck an Merc in Merc combination.  He owned the big Marquis for “quite a few years but it was parked and got kind of rusty”. He knew the engine had a lot of potential  but he admitted “it’s the cheapest way to go but guys gave me a hard time because the 460 is pretty heavy”. He solved some of the weight issues via aluminum heads but the big block Ford is still a monster in the engine compartment.




Clark did most of the work himself so he did the motor and transmission, added rack and pinion steering and added disc brakes to make this old truck more civilized in 2016 traffic.





He’s basically very happy with the results and he’s impressed with the only thing he didn’t do—the ‘Champagne Plum’ paint. He remembered how one old timer thought his automatic transmission floor shifter looked so close to stock he’d “added a removable clutch pedal as an anti-theft device”.   




The only drawback to the driving experience in the old Merc is the noise. Clark explained how “it’s screaming at 70 miles per hour so it’s pretty noisy”. He wants to add an overdrive system because the noise is so overwhelming “you don’t drive it as much because you get tired of the noise” so he makes relatively short trips in his ’53 Merc truck. Clark also wants to completely re-do the exhaust system as part of his improve the driving experience game plan.




‘Despite the setbacks there’s a reason why Clark still owns this Merc after twenty years—he loves this truck because this one fell into his hands at the right time. ‘


Jerry Sutherland


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