Philip Sauers' 1951 Mercury
1951 Mercury restyled by Dean Jeffries for Philip Sauers of San Diego, California. Dean began restyling the car, known as "Shasta", in January of 1953. Phil's Merc was decked and shaved, and the doors and trunk were operated by electrical solenoids. The hood was nosed and peaked. The side trim was shortened in order to give the car a lower appearance. The headlights were frenched and tunneled using the stock headlight rims. A narrowed 1955 DeSoto floating grille bar was fit inside the rounded grille shell. The front bumper was simplified by removing the bumper guards. The rear fenders were filled-in and small taillights were inserted in the bumper guards. The exhaust was routed through the bumper corners. The Merc sported a hopped up 1953 Mercury engine which included Weiand heads and manifold with a four-throat Carter carburetor attached. To give it the right stance, the Merc was lowered 8 inches. Dual Appleton S-552 spotlights were added, giving the car a visual chop. The upholstery was done by a GM designer in pleated black and white. Phil also had a custom surfboard rack that was made to fit into the trunk to carry his boards. As a final touch, Von Dutch pinstriped the car. Philip told later owner Greg Beck that it took Von Dutch all day to stripe the dash on his Mercury. "He would stripe a little, drink a little, stripe a little more, drink a little more. He said this went on all day." The glove box was striped with the Tree Of Life. On 24th of December 1954, Phil parked the car in front his family home for a family reunion dinner. Phil was a Senior in High School at the time, and It was Shasta's coming-out party. The nearly 2 years of customizing was finally done.
In July of 1956 Bob D'Olivio photographed the car for Car Craft Magazine. This version featured 1956 Oldsmobile Fiesta hubcaps. The featured story was printed one year later, in Car Craft July 1957. Phil wrecked the car about 1956, when a old man slammed his brakes in front of him. Phil brought it over to Dean Jeffries once again, this time to repair the damages. The rebuild cost Phillip over $4000.
In 1956, Phil would become one of the earliest North Shore big wave riders to explore and ride Sunset Beach. Pursuing his dreams he went to Hawaii, and put the car on blocks in his mother's garage. October 4th, 1957 he set sail from the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii to Seattle, Washington. Along with his friend, their peaceful journey turned into a nightmare as they got caught up in a massive storm. They got lost and drifted at sea until they were washed ashore 150km north of Cabo San Lucas, California, some 71 days later. When Phil returned home, he sold the Merc to a fellow named Benjamin Abrenillo of San Diego.
In 1960 Phil saw Shasta cruising down PCH, so he turned around and chased the owner down.The Merc was pretty much the same,only a little higher. Benjamin used it until 1968, when he put it in a storage house on 27th st in San Diego. The car was kept there until he passed away July 31 2005.
Greg Beck purchased the old custom in May of 2007. The Merc was by then powered by a 1955 Chrysler Hemi 331 engine. The taillights in the bumper guards were removed, and Buick Riviera units were installed in the deck lid. Unfortunately, the Von Dutch pinstriped glovebox door has disappeared during the years as well. Greg got rid of the Riviera taillights and cleaned up the car. His plan is to restore it back to its former glory someday.
In November of 2013, while watching the DVD Devil Under Your Feet, Greg spotted a glove box door belonging to Burbank Choppers member Verne Hammond that had the similar color and striping as the dash in the Merc. In the movie Verne sad that it came from San Diego, the same city as the Merc sat for 40 years in a storage facility. Greg contacted Verne, to ask if he would sell it, but unfortunately for Greg, Verne had already sold it around 2010 - 2011 at the L.A. Roadster Show. He could not remember who he had sold it too either.
If you know where the missing glovebox door and rear bumper is, please contact Greg Beck here
Did you enjoy this article?
Kustomrama is an encyclopedia dedicated to preserve, share and protect traditional hot rod and custom car history from all over the world.
- Help us keep Kustomrama and history alive. For as little as 1 USD a month you can become a monthly supporter. Click here to learn more.
- Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive regular updates and stories from Kustomrama.
- Do you know someone who would enjoy this article? Click here to forward it.
Can you help us make this article better?
Please get in touch with us at email@example.com if you have additional information or photos to share about Philip Sauers' 1951 Mercury.
This article was made possible by:
SunTec Auto Glass - Auto Glass Services on Vintage and Classic Cars
Finding a replacement windshield, back or side glass can be a difficult task when restoring your vintage or custom classic car. It doesn't have to be though now with auto glass specialist companies like www.suntecautoglass.com. They can source OEM or OEM-equivalent glass for older makes/models; which will ensure a proper fit every time. Check them out for more details!
Do you want to see your company here? Click here for more info about how you can advertise your business on Kustomrama.