The very first custom car to be dubbed a “lead sled” was built by Sam Barris (George’s brother) from the newly redesigned 1949 Mercury Eight. The result was that any custom Merc from the 1949-51 era became known by that title whether there was any lead filler in the body or not.
The ’49 Mercury was the first stylistic clean break from pre-war design, a lusciously rounded shape that quickly became a favorite among the burgeoning band of customizers on both the East and West Coasts. The similarly restyled Fords and Lincolns, with a look that endured through 1951, also hit a chord among those who wanted to individualize their FoMoCo cars.
The Pick of the Day is a 1951 Mercury Monarch four-door sedan with the typically menacing look of a custom Merc, sitting sleek and low over chrome custom wheels. The Mercury gets away with being a four-door instead of a coupe because of its cool “suicide” rear doors that look so righteous (as they might have said back in the day).
Painted a dark Midnight Blue with subtle pinstriping, the Mercury would be impressive at night, reflecting the street lights as it hunkered past on its wide whitewalls. This look is so evocative of urban life during the 1950s, and it would be a popular artifact for any Rockabilly celebration.
The Monarch is powered by its original 255-cid flathead V8 and manual transmission, and features aftermarket air-conditioning that works well, according to the Fairfield, California, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. The diamond-tufted seats and door panels look just right.
The car has been well-cared for, according to the ad. The engine seals and master cylinder have been replaced, and the car has been converted to a 12-volt electrical system, including a pair electric fans added for radiator cooling.
The custom styling features rear fender skirts, windshield visor and a period-correct set of dummy lake pipes, which are a sly piece of irony considering the bold dual-exhaust tips exiting under the rear bumper. The chrome bumpers and trim seems to gleam in the photos with the ad.
“This 1951 Mercury Monarch shows nicely with only minor cosmetic wear to the paint and the interior,” the seller says. “The engine bay is typical driver quality but otherwise, this highly original example looks and drives excellent.”
The asking price for the Mercury is $27,000, which seems modest for all this lead-sled glory.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day