1-of-1: 1947 Mercury Series 79M Marmon-Herrington 4×4 Woodie Wagon

There are times here at Barn Finds when a vehicle will appear on our desks with a claim of being 1-of-1, and it is easy to be cynical. However, when a classic like this 1947 Mercury Series 79M Woodie pops out of the, er, woodwork, that claim takes on a whole new meaning. Mercury built 3,558 examples of the 79M Woodie in 1947, but this is the only known vehicle that received a 4×4 conversion by Marmon-Herrington. It has just been treated to a full restoration, and the owner has decided that the time is right to part with it. The Mercury is listed here at Worldwide Auctioneers and is set to go to auction in Auburn, Indiana, on Saturday, January 23rd, with No Reserve.

Apart from the fact that it looks like it’s wearing stilts, there is little to differentiate this Woodie from any of its siblings. That is unless you start to consider how beautifully it presents. This is no accident because the vehicle is coming off the back of a meticulous restoration that left no stone unturned. The Mercury was stripped down to the last nut-and-bolt, and the panels were massaged before a fresh coat of Parrot Green paint was applied. This has been buffed and polished to a magnificent shine and has a mirror-like appearance when viewed up close. Of course, it goes without saying that there isn’t a spot of rust to be found anywhere on the Wagon. All of the woodwork was restored or replaced, with the combination of maple and mahogany now looking stunning. Every piece of chrome and trim was sent out to the platers, and it is in as-new condition. To maintain authenticity, the owner searched for the correct side glass for the vehicle, and all of the glass wears the Ford brand.

Lifting the hood of the Mercury doesn’t reveal anything out of the ordinary. What we find is a 239ci flathead V8, which should be producing 100hp. The flathead was rebuilt as part of the restoration process and finished with all of the correct parts to maintain a factory-fresh appearance. The only non-genuine component here is the battery, although the Woodie still retains its original 6-volt electrical system.

It is this badge on the hood that tells the story of this Mercury. Marmon-Herrington had been performing 4-wheel-drive conversions on Ford trucks since the early 1930s, but the wagon was a new venture for them. The process was an involved one and included removing the body and drivetrain from the chassis. The chassis was then strengthened, and a 4-speed manual transmission and a heavy-duty transfer case were bolted behind the original V8. A new front end with a differential was bolted into place before the body was reattached to the frame. The company’s records have long since vanished, and while it isn’t clear how many wagons received the treatment, it is believed that only six of these vehicles exist today. Of those, three are Mercurys, but this is the only ’47 model. The demand for an all-wheel-drive wagon wasn’t quite the same in the 1940s as would become the case decades later, and this is one reason for the low build totals. The other was the price. The conversion process was a labor-intensive one, and by the time this particular vehicle hit the showroom floor, its price would have been twice that of a standard Series 79M Woodie.

It should be no surprise to find that the Mercury’s interior presents flawlessly because as much care and attention was lavished here as on the rest of the vehicle. The original 3-speed column shifter is a distant memory because the drivetrain upgrades required a new shifter to poke through the floor. This does potentially limit front seat capacity, but it is still conceivable to place three people across the front bench. However, versatility isn’t compromised because this Mercury comes with the factory 3rd-row seating. That makes the Woodie a true 8-seater that can literally take the entire family anywhere. The seats have been upholstered in supple leather, with timber trims on the doors. An air of practicality is introduced with a rubber mat on the floors, while a factory heater will help to warm those cold bodies. The dash is as flawless as the rest of the interior and features its original AM radio and clock. The wheel looks beautiful, and all of the chrome shines as well as you might expect when you consider that it has all just returned from the platers.

One of my favorite features of these Woodie wagons is the timber that is fitted inside the vehicle. Once again, we find maple and mahogany to match the exterior, and it shines warmly and richly. If I were a passenger in this wagon, I would struggle to look at the passing scenery. Most of my attention would be focused on the wood because it has been finished so beautifully.

This 1947 Mercury Series 79M Woodie is a stunning vehicle, and its uniqueness makes it close to impossible to place a value on it. If this were an unmolested original Mercury in this sort of condition, I would expect it to threaten a six-figure sale price easily. The record sales price for a standard ’47 Woodie was set way back in 2009, and the hammer fell on that one at $159,500. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Mercury manages to eclipse that figure, but regardless of what that final bid is, this is a classic that is being sold with No Reserve. That means that if bidder activity is low, someone could potentially score themselves a bargain. Is that thought enough to tempt you to pursue this beauty further?

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Comments

  1. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Stunning is an understatement for this one. Does anyone know what the jewelry box looking thing is that’s mounted of the transmission tunnel? A quick search online shows other 47 Merc Woodies have it, but not the 46 or 49. I did also find a 42 convertible with it. Maybe it’s storage, but storage wasn’t a priority on vehicles back then.

    Like 5
    • Charles Sawka

      Open the little doors and hot air comes out. Basic but effective !

      Like 7
      • Solosolo Member

        And in the case of the Chrysler Valiant in South Africa, the two large doors under the dash let in tons of fresh, cool air. Best A/C available at the time.

        Like 1
    • DeeBee

      I do believe that is the heater.

      Like 5
    • George

      Definitely is a heater. That is the type you got in the forties, not efficient at all, only recirculates the inside stale air. A heater was an option back then too!

      I grew up in W. Canada and no vehicle skipped that option, most had extra heaters installed.

      In the sixties I had a 1951 Dodge Panel that came with that type of under performing heater box. I went to the junkyard and got a “modern” fresh air type heater from a 1953 Meteor (Ford) and retrofitted it to my Dodge. It solved all the heat problems, especially the lack of defrost.

      Like 3
    • LEMAN

      bakyrdhero, that looks like an original arvin heater that was standard original equipment on ford & mercury cars.

      Like 2
    • George R Diggle

      It is the heater, defroster, the doors open for how much heat is needed, and a baffle to send heat up to the windshield. There is usually a shut off in the engine compartment to keep the car cooler in the summer, to stop the radiator coolant circulating in the car.

      Like 2
  2. Adam1966 Adam1966 Member

    I believe it is a heater.

    Like 1
    • George

      Definitely a heater, a recirculating (air) heater. Heaters were an option back then. I grew up in W. Canada and no car or truck missed that option, many vehicles sported add on heaters too.

      I had a 1951 Dodge panel back in the sixties and it had one of those heaters….really terrible on output, especially on defrost mode. I went to the junkyard and got a “modern” fresh air type heater from a 1953 Meteor (Ford) and retrofitted it to my Dodge….I was then in heaven afterwards.

      Like 3
    • George

      Definitely is a heater. That is the type you got in the forties, not efficient at all, only recirculates the inside stale air. A heater was an option back then too!

      I grew up in W. Canada and no vehicle skipped that option, most had extra heaters installed.

      In the sixties I had a 1951 Dodge Panel that came with that type of under performing heater box. I went to the junkyard and got a “modern” fresh air type heater from a 1953 Meteor (Ford) and retrofitted it to my Dodge. It solved all the heat problems, especially the lack of defrost.

      Like 1
    • John Stull

      The heater it is.

  3. Bob_in_TN Member

    Wow.

    I shudder to think of the cubic dollars spent to restore this. I will be eager to find out what it sells for.

    No issue with seeing yourself at Cars & Coffee.

    I hope the new owner brings it out for others to see (and to watch their jaws drop).

    Like 5
  4. russell Bounds

    Just flipping cool!

    Like 2
  5. Jv1935fixall Member

    The box is a heater quite a bit smaller than what we have to day. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Like 2
    • Franko

      Those heaters worked well. A very different kind of heat that goes to the bones like a wood stove. They also give off a dry heat smell that I love. The last word in woodies.

      Like 1
  6. local_sheriff

    Such a jem, however it’s also somewhat sad that it’ll never again get the opportunity to prove its full capabilities in a nearby bog – it’s way,way too nice to ever come near any trail. Some 1st owner obviously knew what he was looking for and I’d love to read the full story

    Like 5
  7. Wally

    Not one of one; production was MUCH higher…it’s one of six.

  8. Barry

    That’s a gas heater on floor board

    Like 1
  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    Well, you could certainly park this beast at my place. I’m a big fan of woodies and an even bigger fan of 4×4 conversions like this one. I find it interesting that ALL the converted vehicles, even the cars, were equipped with the T-9 crashbox 4 speed which howled like a banshee behind a Flathead V8. Put that transmission behind a six and it was almost quiet, except in the lowest gears. Get used to double-clutching because there ain’t no synchros in there. Just the same a Mercury was rather unusual to have a conversion like this one. A lot more Ford wagons were equipped with this one…

    Like 3
  10. Howard A Member

    While it certainly is an attractive vehicle, driving it with those army tires will be not unlike a freakin’ half track. We ooh and ahh about what an unusual vehicle it is, and it is, it just was not made for todays travel. Those “banjo” axles are what, geo, 5:83’s? Good for maybe 45 mph, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t go much faster, as equipped. This unit was made for taking people back to snow covered resorts and such, not for trips to Walmart in a blizzard. Regardless, a cold ride for back seat passengers. What do you do with it, I always ask? You have a 6 figure vehicle that won’t go on the highway, and certainly not a driver. I suppose, put it behind the velvet rope with all the other “must have but won’t ever drive” vehicles, the rusty Bronco, the chrome monkey bike and the VW window van.

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      What’s wrong with it living a life of leisure at this point? Face it, the vast majority of cars that turn up at local shows and much referenced favorite event on this site, “coffee and cars” aren’t driven any harder than how you describe this cars future use. The main difference between this and most others is the quality of the restoration and its uniqueness.

      Steve R

      Like 9
      • Howard A Member

        I don’t reference that show, or watch it for that matter, and the cars that show up at car shows today aren’t Model T’s or ’47 Mercury 4×4 wagons, they are cars with 900 hp that would make “The Professor” proud. To be honest, every car show entry today has to be this over the top restoration with something wild sticking out of the hood,, that I wouldn’t drive on the street anyway. I can count the “everyday classics” with maybe a rusty panel on one finger. The restoration is very nice, but $160 grand buys so many things, with most people here probably struggling with their everyday bills, I just can’t imagine someone having the money to spend on something they probably won’t use, like my other examples, merely for the reaction from their other millionaire buddies. I watch these auctions and I see who generally buys these things. It’s gray ( or no) hairs, with someone who clearly isn’t their wife, “let’s hit the auction this weekend”, and simply must have that COPO Camaro ( or whatever) is a life few here will ever entertain. For me, these 5 and 6 figure restorations for a mere automobile just bolsters how far out of whack this hobby is today.

        Like 1
    • Tom Bell

      Not meant for Walmart or Home Depot runs–its a collector vehicle. Should be used and enjoyed as such.

      Like 7
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I’m going to guess the axle ratios to be in the upper 3’s. My ‘47 is 3.7-something and it has no problem with 60 mph. Of course a woodie is no lightweight. You mention that this one would be cold in the back. I remember my dad making digs at those of us who love old woodies: “They were squeaky and drafty, leaked dust in everywhere; cold. I just can’t understand what the fuss is all about.”

      Like 2
  11. Jeff

    Beautiful car – I would use it as intended – take your time, enjoy the ride – the ones that are in a hurry, they can pass –

  12. Lee Powell

    I can only hope the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States (NATMUS) is able to buy and display this gem. The museum is in Auburn Indiana right behind the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum and living in a museum would allow many more people to enjoy this slice of history.

    Like 3
  13. Mountainwoodie

    Not to be a contrarian but there are quite a few Ford /Mercury Marmon Herringtons out here on the West Coast. At the yearly ( well used to be before the trumpvirus), the Wavecrest Woodie Show held every September on the third weekend in Encinitas, often has a number of them. About ten years ago maybe, Nick Alexander, a BMW dealer in LA sold off his collection of woodies, some of which he bought from people I know. Among them was a Marmon Herrington Ford. The sale of all those woodies depressed the market price for woodies and its been climbing back ever
    since.

    Heres the website for the club that puts it on

    https://sandiegowoodies.com/

    As for this one, its beautiful. It will be interesting to see what it brings.

    They aren’t making anymore of them, are they :)

    • Todd Zuercher

      I’m fairly certain this is one of Nick’s cars.

  14. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    Well I learn something new here on Barn Finds everyday. Thanks for educating me on on 1940’s automobile heaters. I will surely never forget.

    Like 1

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