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Rod or Restore? 1941 Mercury Eight Convertible

The person who buys this 1941 Mercury Eight Convertible will have some choices to make. It is a complete car that is structurally sound and comes with a significant collection of parts. It would make a wonderful restoration project, although it could serve equally well as the basis for a rod project. However, production totals for the new-for-1941 model were relatively low. That could sway potential buyers more in favor of the restoration than a custom build. Located in Seattle, Washington, you will find the Mercury listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner has set an asking price of $13,000 for this classic, and I have to say a big thank you to Barn Finder T.J. for utilizing a finely-honed radar to spot the Merc for us.

If this Mercury’s next owner is intent on a faithful restoration, there will be one early mystery to unravel. That revolves around its original paint color. I can spot at least three different shades in various locations, and none of these correspond with anything on Mercury’s 1941 Paint Charts. If a faithful restoration that maximizes potential value is the target, potential buyers must clarify that question. When we look beyond that issue, there’s plenty to like. The panels are straight for a project vehicle of this age, with no appreciable dents or visible accident damage. The seller notes that it is a solid classic, with only minor rust in the lower extremities. The poor photo quality makes it difficult to determine where this is, so an in-person inspection may be the best solution. Although a replacement soft-top may need to go onto the shopping list, the roof bows are present. I use the term “may” because the owner indicates a significant collection of new and NOS parts are included, but what these are is unclear. Once again, the buyer will need to sort through this before spending money. The trim looks restorable, although a few smaller pieces may be missing. The glass also looks pretty decent, and the first impression is that this Mercury should be a rewarding project build.

It is no surprise that Ford and Mercury shared many mechanical components during this period, but only the latter had access to the 239ci flathead V8 in its passenger car range. Capable of producing 95hp, it is what we find occupying this Convertible’s engine bay. The sole transmission offering in 1941 was a three-speed manual, although the company offered a largely unsuccessful Liquamatic transmission the following year. The seller says that the Mercury doesn’t run or drive, although he doesn’t indicate whether the engine turns freely. The accumulated surface corrosion suggests that the buyer will pull the engine as part of the project build, providing an ideal opportunity for a mechanical refresh. There are no interior shots, and the owner doesn’t mention interior trim. There are seats, but we’re flying blind beyond that point. The overall condition of the rest of the vehicle suggests that a re-trim could be on the agenda, but if the buyer’s luck is good, some interior components could be sitting in the included parts cache.

When Ford launched the Mercury brand, it did so with some fanfare. Initial sales were lower than expected, but the situation improved markedly following the end of World War II. Total Mercury production for 1941 was 59,428 cars. Of these, only 6,112 were the Eight Convertible. That makes these a relatively rare car, and it could motivate some potential buyers to consider preservation rather than customization. Completed to a high standard, a fully restored example can easily crack $35,000 in the current market, while $40,000 is not out of the question. With those thoughts in mind, which path would you select?


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    4 pictures, two of them lousy, and a price a bit above what I’d pay for a car needing a total restoration. Neat car, probably worth restoring, going to be labor and parts cost deep hole. I’d keep the drive train with mods to the engine, possibly upgrade the brakes, and put a 4″ dropped axle under the front end. A good, in your face paint job and you’d have something cool.

    Like 8
  2. Moparman Moparman Member

    My very first thought upon seeing this was Biff chasing Marty McFly, and crashing into the manure truck; although IIRC Biff’s car was a Ford! :-)

    Like 5
    • Frank

      Wrong year

      Like 0
  3. RMac

    My father bought a 41 merc 8 convertible new in 48 yellow with a buck interior and top I have photo somewhere of he and my mom in it on their honeymoon at Moosehead Lake the drive it there from Westfield NJ

    Like 2
  4. John

    Restore this old gal. There are plenty of major modified old mercs. Make it original, or mostly at least.

    Like 17
  5. Rob M.

    Looks like the car Travolta drove in Grease.

    Like 5
  6. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    I agree with Bob Hess. Yeah, it’s just to to do anything but restore with mild performance upgrades.
    God Bless America

    Like 2
  7. Steve Clinton

    What? No one posting that they would stick a huge V8 in it?

    Like 4
    • Solosolo UK Solosolo Member

      Don’t hold your breath Steve.

      Like 5
  8. Shuttle Guy Shuttle Guy Member

    Grease Lighting?

    Like 1
  9. Bill B.

    I would hot rod it circa 1955. Build the flat head, tuck & roll upholstery, steel wheels with white walls, and of course blue dots.

    Like 1
  10. Hotrodbuilder

    Looks like whoever did the last respray painted the running boards too. I have a supercharged 5.0 that would go nicely in that car. Too bad the rest of the restoration would eat up the value pretty quickly. Someone will have a lot of work/fun with this one.

    Like 1
  11. Rick

    My parents had a 41 Mercury Convertible. In 1951 my father traded it in on a Plymouth Cranbrook. The dealer gave him $300 for the Mercury. When H got home he wanted to hit himself in the head with a large hammer because he realized what a huge mistake he had made.

    Like 2
    • Bunky

      Rick- That’s too funny! My father’s first new car was a ‘51 Plymouth Cranbrook. He went to the factory to pick it up. Heading home he got less than 100 miles and the brakes failed. Had to have it towed back and wait for it to be repaired. He absolutely hated the car, but he couldn’t get rid of it. After 11 months he traded it for a ‘49 Buick. Still have the card he sent to Mom while she was staying with her Mom while he was away.

      Like 2
  12. HC Member

    If it were mine I would do a modest custom rebuild updating the current 239 and disc brakes in front, drums in back. Tiffany Blue would look great on this girl too. Nice find

    Like 0
  13. bobH

    Point of reference…. A 41 Merc convertible sold at a Mecum auction (Vegas) a year ago, for 27 (maybe 27.5). It was an impeccable restoration that I personally knew, both the owner, and the process done by a professional. It was a Dearborn-level car. My point being, the market appears to be very soft, and this car, which should have been a 60-70K car a few years ago, did very poorly at auction.

    Like 0
  14. John Bury

    Looks like Phil Silvers car(1947 Ford) in Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World ?

    Like 1
  15. Russ Ashley

    How could you hate a car immediately after you just bought it? That’s why you take a test drive. As far as the brakes failing on the way home, that had to be a human error. Someone did something wrong There were many 1951 Plymouths sold and that wasn’t a common problem. Speaking as a person who owned and abused a 51 Cranbrook convertible all through my teens, and it never let me down.

    Like 3
  16. Joe Haska

    I agree with all the comments to some degree. I especially think, it could be a 40 thousand dollar car if restored. And by that I mean not a 100% original restoration , but a good one with maybe some concessions to making it a nice driver, with good cosmetics. The problem is, I don’t see how you can do that on a 40 grand budget, including the car. All you can do, is if you really like the car, do it to your best ability, within your budget and enjoy it.

    Like 0
  17. Gary

    4″ chop, bubble skirts, frenched headlights, tunneled 59 Caddy taillights, door and trunk handles removed, fender stainless and front fender markers removed along with the running boards and bumper over guards. Candy dark purple with lighter purple interior and top, full house flattie with Ardun heads and a blower or three Stromberg’s, headers and glass packs, sombreros and you’re done

    Like 1

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