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The 2009 Sacramento Autorama - Mercury Heaven

I spent a day at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama on February 7 - a show, now in its 59th year, and one less than the Grand National Roadster Show held in Los Angeles.

The main attraction of this year’s event was the Mercury gathering put together at very short notice by Alex Idzardi of The Shifters Car Club & his wife Celeste.

There was a whole room at the Expo Center dedicated to custom Mercurys and as you walked in the door you were  greeted by this amazing sight!  As you can see, it looked like something from a show in the 1950s. 


After standing there for a few moments playing spot the famous Merc, I headed down to the main floor to check out the cars.

Two of the most historic Mercury’s were in attendance, The Sam Barris car and the Hirohata car. Sam’s car (below) is just stunning, and reputed to be the very first Mercury ever chopped.  The work was done when the car was just a few weeks old! 


The Hirohata car (below) owned by Jim McNiels is stunning in the flesh.  Jim found the car in a garage in LA & restored it over a period of about 10 years. Sam Barris and Frank Sonzogni did most of the work on the car - Sam did the driver’s side and Frank the passenger side.



Harry Westergard and Less Crane built this red 1940 Mercury in the 40's for Butler Rugard 


Derby Ahlstone brought the first Coachcraft built custom 1939 Mercury to the show.  It’s an amazing car that was found in a river bed & then stored for 20 years before a total restoration. 


The Wally Welch Mercury (below) owned by Justin Mozart, and built by The Ayalla Brothers. 


The last Dick Dean chopped 50 Mercury owned by Jeff Neppl was on display in satin red. 


Greg Back brought his old Philip Sauers 1951 Mercury, this was HEMI powered, and the car just begs to be left alone & driven as is. 


Paul Bragg's 1951 Mercury - a former Harry Bradley Design award winner.  It was stunning and the finish & panel gaps were amazing.


Some of the newer cars on display were equally stunning. Oz Kustoms brought along their 'Bad Apple' which has been around for over 20 years, as well as their recently finished and flawless gold ’40 Mercury dubbed  'Slither' built for Brian Everett.  


James Hetfield’s latest ride is this incredible ’36 Ford, the color is a deep burgundy candy, and the headlamp lenses are a work of art. 


There was so much really cool stuff at the show, it would be almost impossible to cover it in one story; the Mercury room alone was worth the 2 hour drive each way.

Here’s a few favorites from the rest of the show.

Kirk Jones had his Gambino built “May Cause Dangerous” Starliner there, it was the first time I’d seen the car in person, despite it being built less than 5 miles from my house.


John D’Agastino had his freshly finished ’58 Olds “The Egyptian” on display.


We ran across this super sweet little modified outside, it was powered by an injected Ford Zetec 4-cylinder from a Ford Focus! 


Inside the Suede Pavilion, there was the usual collection of cool stuff; Jason from Bear Metal Kustoms was literally still painting this cool little roadster on the Wednesday night before the show.


And the award for the car most likely to get you a ticket goes to…. 

Story & Photos: Dave Molloy

Pro Photo Photography ®

Campbell, California 95008 

Pop Browns