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Flathead & Hardwood: 1948 Mercury Sportsman

1948 Mercury Woodie Station Wagon

Well it’s Wednesday and we all know what that means, it’s Wagon Wednesday! While hunting for interesting wagons, we realized it had been a while since we featured a real Woodie. So, when we came across this 1948 Mercury Sportsman Wagon it seemed like the perfect car for today. It was found on the second level of an old barn, where it had been parked for 30 or so years. The previous owner was an avid Mercury collector and had put the car in the barn to protect it from damage. In 2013, it was pulled from the barn and the process of getting it running was started. Now that everything has been gone through, it is running and driving. They have now decided to put it up for sale and have listed it here on eBay. The seller admits it is going to need some structural and cosmetic work, but is solid overall.

Mercury Interior

There is truly something special about many of the cars built in the late ’40s. They have an old world level of style and class with more modern features and comforts. All the little touches in this Mercury give it an art deco feel and reresent true craftsmanship. The layout of the dash for example, is unusual by today’s standards, but looks to be of such high quality that it could be mistaken for a piece of furniture. Now that doesn’t mean we would want this in front of us during an accident, but it is amazing to look at and study.

Mercury Speedometer

For having been stored in a barn, this car has aged very well. It was obviously protected from the elementsl, but it isn’t without issues. While it is usable in its current condition, it could benefit from a restoration. The exterior is in need of the most attention, as there is rust in the floors, on the fenders, and in the quarters. Overall the wood is in solid shape, but the seller admits there are several panels that need work or possibly replacing. Hopefully the wood can be repaired and preserved without disassembling the car, as it can get very costly to rebuild any Woodie. If all the mechanical systems have been properly gone through as the seller claims, it should help to keep costs down a bit. The 239 cui flathead V8 is believed to be the original unit and while 100 horsepower might not be all that much today, it should give this enough pep to keep things fun.

Mercury Woodie Wagon

Overall this Mercury looks like a great starting point for a rolling project. There weren’t many of these built, but most of the parts can be easily found. Woodie wagon values have skyrocketed in the past few years and we are sure someone would love to have it. We don’t know if it would be a project for us, but we would certainly love to see it once it’s finished! So would you like to have this Mercury or would you invest your money elsewhere?


  1. paul

    Nice this will be expensive to buy & even more expensive to restore & the restore part will have to come quick those floors & chassis need attention pronto as does everything else.

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  2. rancho bella

    Ever drive an old woodie?………..they are awful. Of course in their day I reckon it would have been considered smooth sailing. A guy down the street was dealing in woodies at one time and I would have the misfortune to get behind the wheel of many. I never learned.

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    • paul

      Wasn’t everything awful to drive back then, vast play in the steering, terrible brakes & handling was like guiding a ship.

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      • rancho bella

        Spot on Paul.

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      • Brad

        Which seems like the whole point, really. One could easily modernize this – add a couple hundred horses, a catalytic converter, 12v, discs, rack and pinion, bucket seats… soon you’d have the look like a ’48, but the overall driving experience of a 2014 car.

        That’s good for lots of old cars, we’re doing it with our ’54 Chrysler wagon – we want daily driver dependability and more safety. But with this thing, it seems the sloppy steering, sluggish performance, fussy carbs and other “cons” are part of what make up the biggest “pro”: nostalgia, via its authenticity. Partaking in something your dad (in my case grandpa) would’ve driven, including grumbling about the same issues, would be part of the fun of owning it, I think. Maybe my glasses are a bit too rosy, but it seems to me that on warm summer evenings, or a trip to load up the back at the local florist… it would be hard to beat a ride like this. This is the kind of “awful” I could live with.

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      • paul

        Absolutely I would leave it stock.

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  3. sunbeamdon

    I have a very warm feeling towards this era woody – my Uncle, for whom I was named, had a ’42(??) Ford woody wagon (war issue, right hand drive) which transported our families in the late forties. Good memories, bullet proof car, needs a loving home! Where’s my checkbook? Oh, I know, wife says I can’t buy another car ’til I sell one! Know anyone looking for a low-mile ’64 Merc Marauder 2dr HT?

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    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi sunbeamdon. I too like the ’42-’48 Fords and Mercurys, with my favorite being the ’42 Ford. I sure wouldn’t turn this down though. Trouble is, my better half might have something to say if I showed up with this car in tow.

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  4. Mark

    I think the name Sportsman was only used on the two door convertable version sold by Ford and Mercury.

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  5. Mark E

    Drive it as is? When the seller actually admits it needs ‘structural work?!? I think I’d want to check out the level of structural work needed before I’d want to drive it further than on and off a trailer…

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    • Horse Radish

      I don’t know if it finally sold, but a guy had a woody wagon on E-bay that had literally crumbled when it came off the trailer.
      I woodn’t (sorry, wouldn’t) know where to begin there….
      So, this here looks ‘good to go….

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  6. jim s

    the problem with wood it is going to need repaired again and agian. i rode in them ” back in the day ” and the interiors were not water or air tight. the body moved and made noise just driving down the rode. this would have to be a labor of love by someone who has a great deal of time/money. after that it would never be a daily driver, i think. still a great find for someone and very interesting bids on ebay.

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    • Horse Radish

      I really wonder, if this could be registered and driven in Germany.
      They pride themselves on their flawless technical Inspections and overall safe cars…..

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  7. Capt Doug

    The wood work is really not that difficult to maintain or even replace — I have Captained antique wooden boats for 40+ years, much more complicated structures and it only takes time and workmanship to keep the wood in great shape, mechanically these cars are fairly simple to work on as well, the driving experience is what it is – not going to be a daily driver these days anyway and with a very simple upholstery update it will be a show stopper – do the chrome when you have the time and money – but really if the wood scares you find a good wooden boat shop and let them have at it.

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  8. DT

    I havent had very good luck rebuilding condensers,or points

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  9. DT

    ever drive a 300sl gullwing, I thought I was in a horse and buggy. I havent had too good of luck rebuilding condensers and points

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  10. ConservativesDefeated

    Owner here of a ’47 Ford Woodie. While the Mercury was a higher trim line basically, I always found the grille too fussy.

    As we always say, buy the best you can afford. Personally don’t want a Woodie with chassis worm.

    This old girl is suffering from rust everywhere. Shouldnt be surprising as its in Wisconsin. Just off the top of my declinicng metal capacity it s going to need a wood kit..probably have it done correctly by any of the Woodie retorers for 10 to fifteen grand,

    Dont show the tailgate but I assume its toast, Its all wood. Looks like a fair amount of rust around the windshield. Engine missing the oil bath connector setup.unless I missed it.

    Lets put it in perspective. I had to spend 43,000.00 in 1999 dollars to replace a left fron fender, firewall, dash and drivers door after it was T boned by an idiot in an SUV.

    So,whatever it sells for, when you figure in the unknown I’d bet you’d have anywhere from 20 to 40 grand easily for the engine , tranny, paint and wood

    And theres no mention of a Columbia.an absolute necessity for freeway driving.

    But it is a Mercury

    And my ;47 was all square beforehand.

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  11. RickyM

    Love the Woodys to look at. You will need a deep wallet to restore this to 100%.

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