Deep Patina - 1939 Mercury Convertible

This shell of a car represents not only at least two milestones in American automotive history - the first Mercury and one of the earliest applications of the V8 engine, but also evokes the simplicity and innocence of pre-war America.

This Mercury has been sitting outside the body shop down the road from my house since late last summer. I kept thinking the owner would move it indoors before the snow started.

I drove past it many times, thinking I should stop and photograph it, but the car is parked on the North side of the building, and this time of year it was constantly in shadow.

Finally, the snows came. I was on my way over to Doc’s and drove by the Mercury.
I had mixed feelings about the Mercury not having been taken in. I felt badly for the car. But I knew it was time to make some pictures.

As I began looking at the car through the lens, my emotions continued to struggle. The car is in desperate shape, as you can see. The floorboards are practically gone. There’s nothing left of the seats save the springs. The once-painted dashboard deeply pitted with rust. I wondered if there was even enough left of this car to save.
Yet the aqua-colored glass that remains in the driver’s half of the windshield and the fragments of flamingo-colored plastic that cling to the steering wheel’s rim seemed jaunty and nautical. Looking across the interior with its art deco clock and out onto the long, tapering hood, the Mercury seemed almost like a boat, and I imagined a beautiful young girl behind the wheel with her Veronica Lake hair tossing in the wind, and a  smile on her coral-colored lips.
This is a rare car - 1939 or 1940 - either the first or second year of Edsel Ford’s new Mercury brand, and carries one of the earliest mass-produced V8 engines – the famous Ford Flathead. Cars like this one begat the earliest Hot Rods, and people just can’t seem to get enough of old Mercurys, which explains why this shell of a car has not been sent to the crusher.

Wonder where it will be when summer comes around next time.
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