Tim Dickson's 1950 Mercury Barris Kustom
(from Volume 24, Issue 289)

story by owner Tim Dickson, photos by Michael B. Kelly


After searching for nearly two years countrywide, I finally found this iconic lead sled in a private collection in Sarasota, Florida. This beautiful 1950 Mercury is among many collector cars I have owned since retiring, and I am very fortunate to have found this one.

Although new to me, this award winning Merc has had a long and colorful history. The original body modifications were done in 1969 at the now famous George Barris Kustoms on Rodeo Drive in north Hollywood, California. After that it was in the private collection of Leo Gephart in Scottsdale, Arizona (Gephart was the driving force behind starting the Barret Jackson Auctions). For the past 23 years the Merc has undergone a complete facelift and has been impeccably maintained in Sarasota by collector Ron Menda.

This rust free Merc’s top was chopped 3-1/2 inches in front and 5-inches in the back. It was nosed, decked, and shaved. The hood corners were rounded, and the headlights and taillights were frenched. Further modifications include a 1953 DeSoto grill, 1954 Kaiser bumper guards, 1954 Mercury side spears on the fender skirts, Monte Carlo surrounds on original front parking lenses, and a 1958 Impala roof vent above the rear window. The headlights are now Honda Valkyre motorcycle units, and the taillights are Lee lenses. It has a frenched electric antenna, door poppers, a butted windshield, lake pipes, and King Of Dice dummy spotlights. The paint is Electric Currant Red, which absolutely glows in the Florida sunshine.

The white marine vinyl interior features a bench seat, and the original dash with an 8-Track player mounted just below the glove box. It also has a Vintage Air under dash unit, plus a custom console with an AM/FM/CD player. Further styling touches include a 1958 Impala steering wheel on a Cadillac tilt column, and a six-gun style column shifter knob.

The Merc sits on a 1970 Camaro front clip and uses a 1970 Camaro 350 cubic inch motor with Turbo 350 automatic transmission, and a 10 bolt rear end with 3.08:1 gears. The sound is awesome thanks to glass packs and 4-inch echo cans. There are 4-inch lowering blocks in back with air shocks run by an onboard compressor. The Merc rides on wide whitewall Diamond Back tires mounted on steel wheels, with 1957 Cadillac sombrero hubcaps giving that classic custom look. The front and rear bumpers use Visibolt lighted bolts, lending a neat nighttime effect, and a and 1930 Ford Model A “ahooga” horn puts a smile on people’s faces when they hear it.

In addition to getting attention wherever it goes, the Merc has won a Top Twenty Lead Sleds in Fairmount, Indiana at the James Dean Car Show, several Goodguys awards and NSRA picks, and most recently was the Roamin’ Oldies Cruiser Of The Month. This Merc is awesome! After all, as the classic song Mercury Blues rightfully states; “If I had money, I tell you what I’d do. I’d go downtown and buy a Mercury or two. I’m crazy ‘bout a Mercury!”. Just imagine if singers Alan Jackson or Steve Miller would have seen this Barris Kustoms Mercury! Though there is only one like it.....so buying two would certainly be out of the question. CN