The 1951 Hirohata Mercury is arguably the most famous custom car of the classic car era. It is named for the car's original owner, Bob Hirohata of Los Angeles, California and was built by Sam and George Barris’ legendary shop Kustoms of Los Angeles. It has a history of appearances in hot rod magazines of the 50s including Hot Rod Magazine and Hop Up Magazine in March1953 and Rod & Custom in October of the same year. It was Class Winner at the 1953 Petersen Motorama. The car stepped into the limelight in 1955 when it appeared in the film “Running Wild” starring Mamie Van Doren.
The Hirohata Mercury has been in the care of the McNiel family since 1959 when Jim McNiel purchased the car for $500 at the age of 16. In 1966 the car was restored to exact 1952 Motorama specifications. The process was detailed by Pat Ganahl in several issues of ROD & CUSTOM magazine. The distinctive 2-tone green colors were matched by spectrographing and the new paint was applied by Junior's House of Color using PPG materials. Upon its completion, the car was displayed at the "Hot Rods and Customs- The Men and Machines of California's Car Culture" exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California.
In 2015 the car was re-restored by its original builders, including Herschel “Junior” Conway and Frank Sonzongni, for a special display of Mercury hot rods at Pebble Beach. It won Best in Class honors.
This very special Mercury was added to the National Historical Vehicle Register in 2017, when it was displayed on the national mall in Washington, DC in recognition of its importance in American and automotive history.
The car will be on display before and after the seminar so don’t miss this opportunity to see this legendary hot rod and hear about its history from two of the hot rod world’s biggest fans and leading experts.