The ultimate lead sled, the archetype, the one that everyone wants, this 1949 Mercury coupe defines the breed. Frenched, lowered, smoothed, fender skirts, it has all the traditional custom styling cues, all wrapped in a gorgeous two-tone paint job that ideally suits the long, low custom. Paired with the bulletproof reliability of a fuel-injected LS2 and a totally custom interior, this is a lead sled that’s very easy to love.
This car could have been the prototype for every Mercury lead sled built, incorporating some of the most traditional modifications and a few tasteful touches that make it unique. The list of body mods is extensive, ranging from a nosed and decked hood to the frenched headlights to the shaved door handles to the custom grille, which appears to be from a Desoto, a popular modification back in the day. A custom pearl white and pink paint job grabs all the attention, although the point of a custom is to blur the lines so you can’t find the mods. The paint glows from within and has a sugary look that makes this car insanely appealing. Big chrome bumpers offset all that luscious paint with a big of flash, plus the stainless lakes pipes that make this car look long and low. Fender skirts are part of the recipe, and there are a few neatly-done pinstripes just for accent.
Bright pink and white bucket seats are the perfect complement to the high-visibility exterior, and the overstuffed seats mean this is a fantastic road trip car. With a lightly modified Mercury dashboard full of VDO gauges, it doesn’t seem to be trying too hard. Most of the original knobs and switches were maintained, with some being repurposed for other functions like the A/C, which has a custom valence below the dash for a clean look. A tilt steering column carries a leather-wrapped wheel, there’s a custom center console with an armrest from a ’60s Thunderbird, power window switches, and the air suspension controls. The in-dash A/C uses modern components and R134a refrigerant to deliver contemporary performance and there’s a AM/FM/CD stereo in the upper console, right below a clock mounted in the center. Under-dash lighting gives it a cool glow at night, and the trunk is neatly finished without losing functionality, as it carries a full-sized spare tire.
For motivation, this one uses a 6.0 liter LS2 V8 with factory fuel injection and engine management. This might be the best-running lead sled we’ve ever featured, and the highest praise we can offer is that it runs and drives like it was factory built. Turn the key and it fires, it idles smoothly no matter how hot it is, and the integration is seamless. There’s a big aluminum radiator to keep it cool, new accessories tucked in close to the block, and even the firewall and inner fenders were finished to show standards with custom pinstripes. Custom long-tube headers feed a nicely fabricated dual exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers, so it sounds like performance when you’re cruising the fairground. The transmission is a 4L70E 4-speed automatic, so it’s an effortless cruiser even with somewhat punchy 4.10 gears in the Ford 9-inch rear end. Air Ride makes it smooth, the 4-link rear end keeps it planted, and disc brakes keep it safe. 15-inch steelies with Oldsmobile hubcaps are the ideal period custom choice and they carry modern wide whitewall radials, as you’d expect.