The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

By KENNETH HALL – Motoring Tampa Bay correspondent
For 1949 and 1950, Mercury introduced a sleeker post-war look to its cars, although the body lines were similar to the Hudsons of the same era. Designed as a luxury interim brand between Ford and the high end Lincoln, the 1949 and 1950 Mercurys featured a flathead 255 cubic-inch V8 engine that gave the car a top speed of about 83 miles per hour. While that may not seem all that fast, the cars were built for comfort, not speed, and weighed in excess of 3,600 pounds.
The cars were hardly your typical hot rod material, but custom car legend George Barris and his brother Sam built the “Hirohata Merc,” for customer Bob Hirohata, from a 1949 Mercury. Their creation has been consistently hailed as one of the best custom cars ever, and it began a trend of custom builds using the 1949 and 1950 Mercurys.
Howard Mednicks “Pink Panther” 1950 Mercury is a prime example of the customizer art. Three and a half inches were chopped from the roof, and the body was lowered considerably, giving the car the low mean look popular with custom builders. However, a closer examination reveals that this stunning beauty is not exactly what it appears to be.
“We call it the Bride of Frankenstein because there is very little that is original Mercury, other than the body,” Mednick says.
During its six-year frame-off restoration, the Frankenstein monster rebuild includes a 1972 Chevy Nova frame and front suspension, a 1957 Chevy rear end with 3.80 ratio, a 1955 DeSoto grille, a 1976 Cadillac custom steering column with tilt and telescopic steering wheel, a 1949 Mercury dash board with a VDO gauge package, 1952 Ford Frenched headlights and 1957 Dodge wheel covers. The engine is a heavily-chromed Chevrolet 357 cubic-inch tri-power with three two-barrel Rochester carburetors and a TH350 automatic transmission.
Other custom features of the 1950 Mercury include power brakes, power steering, air conditioning, shaved door handles, dual exhaust, lake pipes, 3½-inch whitewall tires, a stainless steel gas tank, a 10 disc CD changer and a high-grade white vinyl interior with pink accents. The car is coated in four coats of sharp pink Ditzler paint topped with two coats of clear.
It was the striking pink color that first caught his attention, but Mednick is not alone in that regard. He says that no matter where it shows up, the 1950 Pink Panther Mercury draws curious onlookers, who are first attracted by its bright color and are then captivated by the custom details of the car.
“You cannot possibly imagine what an attention-getter the car is,” Mednick says. “If I had a dollar for every photo that has been taken of it, I had be a very wealthy person.”
Although he purchased the 1950 Mercury earlier this year, Mednick, who owns HM Classics in Dade City, says that in March 2016, the car won first prize for All Steel Street Rod at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d Elegance. Still, Mednick plans to further customize the car further by installing a polished mirror finish inside the hood and on the firewall, so that people can better see the engine. He is planning to install flamethrowers on the back exhaust pipes as well.
Mednick loves his 1950 Bride of Frankenstein Mercury and the attention it generates. “It is so solid and so thick with metal, it is unbelievable,” he says. “She is long; she is low and heavy as can be. It has some good speed for being so heavy. It is a very comfortable car and it drives beautifully.”

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