1954 Mercury XM-800
The XM-800 is 1954 Mercury Concept Car designed by John Najjar and Elwood Engle of the Mercury Pre-Production Studio in 1952. John was the manager of the studio, and Elwood a design consultant. The car was originally intended to be called the "Javelin".
The car was built in October of 1953. The studio engineers working on the car were Mike Nowicki, Marty Harbl, Delmar Dustin, Joe Ramp, Paul Bann, Joseph Morris, GL Treweek, and R D'Angelo. The car's body was fabricated in fiberglass with much of its trim made out of chrome plated fiberglass. The XM-800 was actually Ford's first venture with fiberglass. The lower part of the car sported a pearlescent white body color and the top painted in a pearlescent copper metallic. The engine and running gear were 1954 Mercury V-8 with dual exhaust. Even though the car had a completely functional V8 engine. the transmission was no more than an empty case. It was a cost saving measure often used on concept cars. Its radically wrapped-around windshield hinted of latter developments circa 1957 and its 4 bucket seats and stationary arm rest predicted the interior layout for the 1958 Thunderbird. This car was a four-passenger hard top coupe. It was very low in height at 56.6 inches.
The XM-800 made its debut at the February Detroit Auto Show. During the 1954 season the car was featured at several national auto shows through out the United States. The car also appeared in the 1954 movie Woman's World. The car was billed as ready to go into actual production if public demand warranted. The XM-800 was pushed or towed on and off the hauler and into and out of the various shows around the country it was featured in throughout 1954 and early 1955. Sometime in later '55 or early '56 when the automakers were experimenting with safety features for cars a new deep dish steering wheel with a shorter steering column was installed in the XM-800. The deep dish wheel was more energy absorbing in an accident than the original flat type steering wheel. Being deep dish, about 6", the steering column had to be changed as well or the wheel would have been right in the chest of the driver. Anyway, this was a 'safety' change which appeared soon after in production cars of all makes. Ford also moved the radio knobs from the face of the dash down on the dash below the radio faceplate. Padding was also added to the dash.
Ford Motor Company donated the XM-800 to the university of Michigan's Engineering School in 1956 when they were finished touring it. The school used the car for training future automotive designers. Around 1960 the XM-800 had again outlived its usefulness with auto design rapidly changing and the university auctioned it off. The XM-800 was purchased by an unknown person who then brought it to a central Michigan farmer and asked if he could store it in his barn. The farmer was paid a years rent in advance and the owner left never be heard from again. After a couple of years, needing room, and since he hadn't been paid rent for several years the farmer moved the XM-800 outside alongside the barn.
In 1979 17 year-old Dan Brooks and a friend got the car from the farmer -- if they could get it out of his barnyard. Sometime later Dan's friend needed some money to finish off the interior of a Camaro he was working on and Dan paid him $100.00 for his share in the XM-800. Discovering that the car would cost a lot of money to restore, Dan decided to advertise the car for sale in Hemmings for $30,000.00. Without any luck selling the car, Dan finally sold the car after 3 years to concept car collector Joe Bortz in 1987.
Joe also planned on restoring the XM-800 but with his over 30 concept cars he never got to the XM-800 except to get it running and put a working transmission in it to make it driveable. In April 2008 Joe first listed the car for sale on eBay. The auction ended without the reserve being met. In September 2008 Joe listed it for sale on eBay for the second time. Tom Maruska of Duluth, Minnesota, who actually had the highest bid in April was now able to finally buy the car from Joe Bortz as Joe had put the car up with a "Buy It Now" option. The "Buy It Now" price was lower than the highest bid Tom had given in April.
When Tom got the car it was in dire need of restoration. It was running, but in a bad shape. Tom disassembled the car and restored it back to its former glory, its first version before Ford improved some of the safety features on the car. A lot of parts were missing, so Tom had to fabricate these from scratch to finish the restoration project.
Tom Maruska completed the restoration of the car in April 2009. January 22, 2010 the Mercury was sold at the Automobiles of Arizona auction in Phoenix, Arizona. The car was sold at a price of $429,000.
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