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Original Flathead Included: 1949 Mercury Eight

When you think of hot rods your recall could go in a lot of different directions and some of that will be based on the era when you grew up. For many, it’s a ’32 Ford like John Milner’s in American Grafitti. Others may think of a 1949 Mercury Eight such as our subject car. It got some silver screen cred in 1955’s Rebel Without A Cause and shows the amalgam of hot rodding and customization. Today’s specimen is a combination of originality coupled with a surprise too, so let’s examine it more closely. T.J. gets a nod and a wink for finding this Braceville, Ohio domiciled Merc. It’s available, here on craigslist for $6,400.

All new for ’49, the seller states that this Mercury Eight is “unrestored, unmodified” but that’s not exactly the case. It definitely looks unrestored, it was probably repainted somewhere in the past and the finish is now either peeling or has peeled off in places. The chrome plating has taken a hike too but the stainless trim looks like it’s all still in place. There’s a missing parking light lense and the gas tank hatch cover looks lost to the ages but a shiny new grille is at least included. The images aren’t super detailed in their display but there are no signs of serious rot or crash damage – a close, physical inspection is definitely recommended.

Modification one is the diamond tufted vinyl upholstery – now we are talkin’! It’s even in pretty fair shape and looks spiffy with its red piping. The seller does mention, however, “The seats and headliner are intact with no tears, but a couple seams are separating“. The steel dash looks worn but complete with no indication of instrument pod vacancies – there’s even a radio installed. The front floor appears to be matless but I guess that’s good as a prospective buyer can get an up-close and personal with the floor to determine its condition.

Astute observers will notice that the 110 HP, 255 CI flathead V8 is not in the engine room where it belongs. That’s because two objects can’t occupy the same real estate at the same time and there’s a Chevrolet 327 CI V8 that has taken up residency under the hood. It’s said to be a mid-’60s vintage non-runner but the flathead inclusion will allow the next owner to return this Mercury to true original status. No word if the flatty is deployable or can be rejuvenated.

The seller adds, “The car was appraised 5 years ago as worth $10,000 as is (but the appraiser was a chevy guy, so may be a little off)“. At this stage, an appraisal probably means little; what matters is the soundness of the subject and what can be done with it whether it’s a stock restore, a hot rod bender, or maybe something of a customized nature. It does seem like there’s an epidemic of Chevy engines muscling out original powerplants as this is the third example that I have encountered in the last week. It started with this ’74 Pinto and continued on to a 1934 Chrysler. Regardless, what’s your flavor, stock, hod-rod, or custom?


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    My Dad bout one of these new,in a dark Blue color.
    It was stock,but looked custom.One of the cars with some
    great lines!
    He told me that when it got around 60,000 miles on it
    he sold it,as he was afraid it was going to start breaking
    down on him.He then bought a ’53 Buick (brand new).

    Like 4
    • Gil Davis Tercenio

      Did your dad buy a ’53 Buick Special with the straight eight or a Super or Roadmaster with the new V8?

      Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    One of the cars on my favorite design list. Don’t know if this car is worth the money but it’s certainly the right body style to build something out of.

    Like 3
  3. Bob C.

    I hope the next owner puts the flatty back in. Otherwise, they’ll have a Mercvrolet.

    Like 8
    • Rick

      Let’s hope they put an authentic flatty back in it, ’cause the engine shown in the photo is a ’48 or older.

      Like 12
  4. RKS

    Someone’s put a 1950 backlight in it. This would make a cool period custom. I’d use the diamond tuft parts.

    Like 2
  5. Kenneth Carney

    I’d keep it all ford and go with a 302 V8 with either a C-4 or C-6 auto tranny
    and power steering so that my SIL or
    neice could enjoy driving it semi daily.
    I”d also wanna dress it up a bit with
    some trim from a ’50 Monterrey as well. Nice car that’s priced right.

    Like 4
  6. RoughDiamond Member

    Hard to beat the model year of that 2 door Merc. Man that new grille is something. The Seller says unrestored and unmodified. I guess he forgot about the Chevy 327 motor currently residing under the hood.

    Like 5
    • RKS

      I love that grill. My 1950 Canadian built Meteor has the same one, albeit brightly rechromed.

      Like 5
  7. Big C

    “An epidemic of Chevy engines…” I guess folks like their classic old cars leaking oil on their driveways and garage floors. Rule #1. Always. Put a Ford, in a Ford! :)

    Like 14
    • Bellingham Fred

      Hot Rodding 101, Rule #1 there are no rules. Rule #2 don’t let other people tell you what you can and cannot do.

      Like 19
      • Big C

        Rule #3: You won’t get my money.

        Like 6
  8. John P

    Great value for an iconic “big car”..

    Like 2
  9. John D Bellmore

    Not a 1949 Mercury or Ford engine. 1949 would have had 2 piece bellhousing, different cylinder heads, and upright distributor not crab style.

    Like 5
  10. T. Mann Member

    49 Mercury Rear Window Seal 3pc Glass

    Like 4
  11. T. Mann Member

    3pc Rear Window makes the 1949 so special…

    Like 3
  12. jim

    I love the deep exhaust sound of a flathead Ford/Merc my neighbor had one years ago and you could tell when he got close to our house before he went by

    Like 2
  13. Bill Hall

    My dad bought a 49 just like this new. He only kept it one year. Fortynine Ford products were junk from the factory. A year later he went back and and told the guy who sold it to what a pos. The guy talked into a 50. Kept this until went behind the service station and was cut up about ten years later

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