In the postwar era, Los Angeles was ground zero for the emergence of a racy custom car aesthetic that was largely based upon the 1949 - 1951 Mercurys, the most modern automotive design lineup in the immediate postwar era.

’Twas a shocking sight to see the small collection of Mercury Customs on the lawn at Pebble Beach juxtaposed against the elegant show-winning Isotta Fraschini and a spectacular assemblage of Ferraris, but after the shock wore off, one could see the hand of craftsmen shaping sheet metal to their own purpose, the stuff Concours celebrate in their annual assemblies.

Shown here In all it’s chopped and channeled glory is the 1951 Mercury ICM Custom Coupe created by builder Barris Kustoms for client Bob Hirohata. Squint your eyes a bit when looking at the profile view of this car and you may see echoes of the famous French coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi chrome slash that adorned the sleekest automotive designs of the 1930s.

Barris Kustoms clearly had an unrestrained gleam in their eye when they expertly removed the Mercury B pillar, lowered the car and chopped the roofline to exaggerate this zoomy body design. Plenty of lead was used to fill the holes left after carving the original Mercury into its new configuration. The entire confection was completed in only 97 shop days—just in time for Bob Petersen’s 1952 International Motorama held in Los Angeles. The insane production schedule may have been a blessing in disguise for the finished car is minimally adorned except for it’s broad, bold body strokes. Frozen in time within the hammered metal of this 1951 Mercury Custom is the flash and dash of the immediate postwar design period.

In days to come we will celebrate new unrestrained automotive designs expertly thrown together in a matter of weeks as expressions of man’s need to exert his own style over his transportation. Let’s hope the results will be just as successful as Pebble Beach showed us this year in this interesting display of customized Mercurys.