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Lot 124

1951 Mercury Station Wagon

  • Chassis no. 51SL61954M

Sold for $143,000

Model 1CM. 110 bhp, 255.4 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118"

Like Ford and Lincoln, in 1951 Mercury was in the final year of a three-year cycle of styling. Like the others, there was a new nose, the grille becoming more pronounced and extending around to the sides of the front fenders. Other body styles received extended rear fenders, but the station wagon, which shared its body with Ford, had no changes at the rear. Mercury offered an optional automatic transmission. Called “Merc-O-Matic,” it was the same as the sister division’s Fordomatic, a three-speed planetary gearbox with torque converter, though in normal operation it used only two speeds. About a third of production was so equipped.

Station wagon production at Iron Mountain was winding down in 1951. The all-steel Chevrolet, Pontiac and Plymouth wagons were cutting into Ford’s sales, in part because they were cheaper, but also because the public was tiring of the extra care and attention that wood required.

Company president Henry Ford II was tiring, too, of the care and attention that Iron Mountain required. A 30-day strike in 1949 angered young Henry, and continuing labor troubles strengthened his resolve to shut the facility down. Design began on new station wagons for 1952, to be built at the Rouge plant in Dearborn. In August 1951 he put Iron Mountain on the market. The last Iron Mountain woodie was built on December 5, 1951, and then the place closed. The property was sold to Kingsford Chemical Company, which continued to operate a wood carbonization and distillation plant that Ford had put into operation many years before to dispose of scrap wood, some 400 tons a day. The distillation plant produced methanol, acetates, acetone, alcohols, creosote and pitch, while the carbonization plant made charcoal and briquettes. Thus the Ford brand of charcoal was replaced by Kingsford, one of today’s most popular barbeque fuels, although the Iron Mountain plants closed in 1961.

This 1951 Mercury station wagon is nicely presented in Tomah Ivory. The paint shows a deep gloss and no visible flaws. All body contours are excellent, and the doors shut well. The original Ford maple and mahogany are a perfect match with the pale yellow paint and tan interior and the 10 coats of varnish add warmth to the beautiful grain. The brightwork is very good to excellent, and the Lincoln script glass shows only slight separation on the vent windows and sliding panes.

The seats are upholstered in Golden Tan and Chestnut Brown vinyl and are newly done; the headliner matches the seat cushions. The black rubber floor mats are new. The dashboard has outstanding restored woodgrain.The car has a radio, fresh air heater, clock and factory directional signals.

The 8CM engine is clean and correctly painted in green, but shows recent use. Likewise the chassis and underbody are painted in black and are generally clean, but show road use. The tires are 7.00-15 blackwall Firestones, installed in 2002, and the spare is mounted on the tailgate under a metal cover.

Nick Alexander bought this Mercury from Kent Jaquith of Zillah, Washington, in May 2001. It received a Dearborn Award from the Early Ford V8 Club at Park City, Utah, in 2002, judged at 992 points. It has currently covered just under 99,000 miles, and runs and drives well. It is registered with California year-of-manufacture plates 3B40232, which are included in the sale. A fine example of the last Iron Mountain-bodied Mercury, it represents the end of an era.


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Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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