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Customized in the '40s, Mercury coupe screams old school

1940 Mercury custom coupe set for auction at

1940 Mercury custom coupe set for auction at Monterey Credit: Bonhams

A metallic green 1940 Mercury coupe that can be traced back to the early days of the West Coast custom car craze will go on the auction block this Friday afternoon as part of California’s Auto Week at Monterey Peninsula, the annual gathering of classic car enthusiasts.

While Long Islanders are known for producing some fabulous and flashy “street rods” and other custom cars, those vehicles are often modified decades after they leave the factory. According to the Bonhams auction house handling the sale, the Mercury is truly "old school."  It was driven off the showroom floor in November 1939 and, within a couple weeks, the owner and his friend had chopped the windshield three inches.

Not long after, they installed a “Carson top” (a non-folding, removable padded top resembling a convertible) and did a bunch of other modifications to make this one of the earliest California custom cars. At that time, the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles was becoming a hotbed for customizers. After World War II, returning GIs and other hot rodders took the trend nationwide.

The Mercury has undergone a painstaking restoration and Bonhams expects it to fetch between $150,000 and $200,000. Long Islanders who can’t get to Monterey to see this or the other special cars on display will still have a chance to rub elbows with customizers on August 28 and 29 at the Hollywood Star Car Show” hosted by the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. California car legend George Barris, known as the “King of Kustomizers,” is expected as a featured guest.

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