Dick Page has owned the Summers Mercury for many years is now in the process of a full restoration of the car into the first 1946-47 maroon version. Over the years Dick has been able to gather a lot of information about the car, and in this series of articles has is sharing as much as he knows and the photos he has been found of the car.
The Jimmy Summers 1940 Mercury Convertible is one of the most beautiful custom cars ever designed and constructed. The car is so simple in its appearance, yet there is a lot of body work done to this car that makes it look so good. The proportions of the chopped windshield, the sectioned hood and raised fenders are all so well balanced. They give the car the much desired long and low look the car designers of the 1930's and 40's where after. The removal of the running boards and addition of the stainless rock shield on the rear fenders give this car the looks and feel of the coach built and European sports cars from the late 1930's and mid 1940's. Jimmy decided to remove the stainless side trim, since it would not fit over the rear fenders anymore and would not only interfere with the smooth looks. But he kept the art deco styled Mercury handles and locks on the doors. These give the car just the right amount of "bling"
Jimmy Summers built this car to be driven. Powered by a strong running merc V8 it was no sled and certainly not a lead sled as very little lead was used in its construction. Absolutely nothing was done to reduce ride, handling or drivability.
Doane Spencer and Jimmy used to take long distance trips in this car or joined by Spencer's 1932 Ford Roadster. They would stop at Ford dealerships when money got low, Jimmy would do body work and Doane mechanical for a week to raise some money and then it was on the road again.
The interior on this beautiful car was as special as the rest of the car. The top covered in tan Hartz fine grain canvas had a dark brown broadcloth headliner to match the dark brown carpet trimmed in light brown edging. The late Doane Spencer told me the leather interior was done by a Russian craftsman they called "laddie" (short for Vladamir I think) He said they would go to his place and the sinks would be filled with skins soaking for a project.
|This is the only photo that Dick has ever found that showed|
the interior a bit better. Nice large Roll's & Pleates, and a nice
arc on the door panel flowing nicely into the dashboard.
Located in Hollywood Laddie did the finest leather work on the best cars in the '40's according to Spencer. He upholsterd cars for movie stars, coach, custom and hot rod builders of the day. The pleats on the hand-made plywood seat bases were liberally stuffed for comfort, a extra-large roll under the knees and at the neck insured pleasure for all, even the six foot Summers. The setback of the seats provided good leg room for driver and front seat passenger. the thin front seat backs also made from plywood gave extra leg and knee room for the rear seat passengers.
As you would expect the door panels were very different from stock also. The top portion was flat leather, normal for the day but the center panel was stitched in un-padded pleats in a curving design that started above the window crank handle and dropped away to about 6 inches above the lower carpeted kick panel that fits to and makes a seal against the carpeted panel that covers the frame sides and reduces road noise and drafts.
The dash had light oak wood panels on the glove box door, center and far left dash end. All mouldings were chrome plated.
In the late 50's Tex Roberts had Jimmy remove the interior door handles and install those Hugh 6 volt GM starter solenoids. Tex had also installed a new black and white interior and did not retain inside door handles.
One fine day Tex and his wife Herta on the way to dinner, dressed in their Sunday best in the parking lot of the officers club when... you guessed it the relays or something went on strike... Well Tex could never fit through the chopped side windows, Herta could ...but not in a dress. so the rear zip-out back window flap of the Carson top was pressed into service. First Tex squeezed out then caught Herta as she slid down the trunk lid. She made sure he installed emergency pull- cables for door latches starting the very next day.
|This photo taken in 1946 shows the car sitting in front of Jimmy's|
home garage. The car is painted maroon and still using the
originalsmall moon hubcaps on the painted wheels.
Ground clearance of the car is good as the running gear is still at factory factory height from the road. The windshield is chopped 2 1/2 inches and the Carson top shop created a Carson Top which they covered it in tan to better harmonize with the maroon paint job.
The body is channeled six inches and the rear inner wheel tubs are widened to prevent tire rub on rough roads. All four fenders were raised on the body, the rears up to the edge of the trunk lid.
The hood was trimmed (not sectioned) taking 3 inches off the bottom edge and folded over with hammer 'n dolly for a finished edge, all metal finished no lead.
The front fenders were raised 2 3/4 inches to meet the hood.
Brackets with offset holes allowed the '46 Lincoln bumper to mount in the stock holes in the front fenders. The front fender wheel openings were enlarged 1 1/2 inches for tire clearance on sharp turns. All four wheel openings are edged inside with 3/4 inch tubing. In the front this tubing extends to the other side fender, crossing under the grill. This stiffens and adds support to the front fenders which are leaded to the re-shaped cowl.
|Jimmy showing the hand made center for the Lincoln bumper|
The shaped wire center pieces incorporate the license plate
as well as the 1941 Ford taillights placed next to the plate.
The fender skirts are '41 Buick not "tear drop" The Buick skirt follows the shape of the Mercury perfectly. Under the skirts the rear wheel openings are enlarged slightly to ease tire changes.
The rear bumper is also a Lincoln but with a custom made center which contains the licence plate flanked by '41 Ford tail lights.
The grill is all done by hand and made of 1inch wide, 1/4 inch thick steel strap, chrome plated.
|These two photos show the excellent work Jimmy Summers|
performed on his 1940 Mercury. The clean work on the
channeling of the body over the frame and the radiused
Over the years the car has undergone many small changes which help identify when various photos were taken. The early hubcaps were the true "baby moons" which are more pointed than today's. the second caps were the much flatter '40 Ford with the letters removed and the flipper bar added. And the third set of hubcaps where Lyon's aftermarket caps put on the car after Jimmy painted it green
|Here is another photo showing the car with black wall tires|
on the back. This photo was taken in 1947 after the car had
been painted green and the Lyon's hubcaps where added.
The radio antenna also made its appearance in '47, when the car was painted '47 Buick Sherwood Green.
The car under went more changes in '53 - including frenched headlights, set in license plate at the rear and molded hood center piece - and was painted Ruby Maroon for the second time.
Sadly the Tex Roberts scrap book is lost.
What a wonderful Custom Car!
|Last photo from the collection is this great rear 3/4 shot of|
the car when Rex owned it, taken in South America.