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In the Garage: 1940 Mercury Club Coupe
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1940 Mercury Club Coupe owned by Joseph Papalia
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
As Americans began to emerge from the Great Depression in the late 1930s, they had more money to spend and there were new cars to buy. There was also a gap in the Ford product line between the basic models and the near-luxury Lincoln-Zephyr, which the company filled with the new Mercury in the 1939 model year.
“It was the brainchild of Edsel Ford, who saw it as capturing the sales market between lower- and higher-priced cars of the day,” Papalia says. “Mine was the second year that Mercury went into production. It came with a ‘flathead’ V-8 engine that had 95 horsepower, 10 more than the Ford models. It was priced around $1,000. Henry Ford, although he allowed production, was not totally on board with this concept. The car is considered a rarity today.”
Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury division would go on to produce more illustrious cars and do battle with the likes of Buick, Oldsmobile and Chrysler until the company ceased production of the Mercury in early 2011.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He found it during a trip to Chicago when he visited the Volo Auto Museum, a private museum and classic car dealership in Volo, Illinois. He had the Mercury shipped back to Long Island.
“It’s an older restoration, but the body is in excellent condition,” Papalia says. “Mechanically, It needed a lot of work to make it roadworthy.” The Mercury distinguished itself from other cars of the era with its thin side window pillars trimmed in bright metal, a design similar to the pillars on classic Lincoln Continental coupes of the period. A number of automotive historians insist this look was the precursor of the pillarless hardtop coupes introduced by General Motors for 1949 and widely imitated by other manufacturers over the next three decades.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Join a car club,” he advises. “There is much to learn from other members and it makes it easy to find good mechanics and car parts. I've benefited from being a member of The Centurion Cruisers Car Club.”
Papalia has insured his coupe for $40,000. The NADA Guides places a “high retail” value of $46,500 on a 1940 Club Coupe before options.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I have yet to see another one at car shows that I've attended over the years,” he says. “It’s a real crowd pleaser wherever I take it, for both camera buffs and people with questions.”