Nick Rogers’ radical 1951 Mercury custom has won the Goodguys 2013 Mother’s Custom of the Year award. On a sun baked afternoon in Pleasanton, California at the Goodguys 31st All American Get-Together presented by Specialty Sales Classics, Rogers’ sleek candy blue Merc beat out a stellar national field of customs, collecting its second major award this spring. The car also won the coveted Custom d’Elegance crown at February’s Sacramento AutoRama.
Finished and produced for the show season by Bill Ganahl’s South City Rod & Custom, Rogers’ Merc started with humble beginnings. “I wanted a thirty thousand dollar flat black Merc custom,” he said…”That’s how this car started out. But once things got rolling and I began to dream, the project took on a life of its own. I’ve never really done things half speed so it’s not too surprising we went all in. We saw the possibilities of what it could be and Bill was the man to take it there” said Rogers, a financial advisor on the San Francisco peninsula.
Ganahl, a second generation hot rodder, spent many years as an apprentice working long hours at Roy Brizio Street Rods, honing his craft. He was introduced to traditional hot rods & customs at a very young age growing up in Southern California. His daily driver to and from Brizio’s shop all those years was a ’50 Ford sled. Indeed, it’s as if he was born to build THIS car. He’d be the first to admit however, he had a lot of help along the way.
Upon first glance, the Merc’s perfect, radical 4-inch chop grabs you and won’t let go. The top, forward-slanted B-pillars and the addition of a ’50 Merc rear window (among other subtle cosmetic enhancements) were artistically executed by Matt Townsend (Townsend Customs & Hot Rods). The addition of an evil ’53 DeSoto grille,’49 Merc dash and ’55 Ford side trim (featuring Packard spears) only enhanced the Merc’s curb appeal. The rich, mile-deep candy blue House of Kolor paint was sprayed by Joe Compani.
The engine bay, long ignored by most custom stylists is just as beautiful as the car’s sleek exterior. The hand-fabricated engine compartment panels house the painted and lettered “Chevrolac” (Chevy small block with custom made Caddy valve covers). Underneath it all is a full Art Morrison chassis. And get this – it drives just as well as it looks, requiring nothing more than a “pinky on the steering wheel” according to Ganahl. He should know – he DROVE the Merc 60 miles from his shop in South San Francisco to Pleasanton for the show! We’re guessing the ride back home across the San Mateo Bridge was a sweet one with the Custom of the Year trophy riding shotgun on the period-perfect blue & white tuck & roll upholstery.
When reflecting after the big win, Ganahl summed up the project simply, saying “A lot of talented people had a hand in building this car. In the end, we tried to build a classy, subtle Merc custom that didn’t have flaws. One that could be driven long distances. That became the ultimate focus of this car.” Mission accomplished Bill!
As for the car’s plans? “Oh I’ve got big plans for the car,” said owner Nick Rogers. “I plan on loading up the family, and cruising the El Camino to go get ice cream.”
Fellow finalists for the Goodguys 2013 Mother’s Custom of the Year Award included John D’Agostino (’40 Cadillac), Tony Cuevest (’49 Merc), Don Kirk (’40 Ford) and Jeff James (’54 Chevy).