Cars

Marvelous Maroon Merc fulfills one man’s trio of wishes

October 25, 2017 07:49 PM

Greg Rau’s gorgeous 1950 Mercury convertible was his trifecta of auto collecting.

“My folks bought a brand new 1951 Mercury when I was very young … I vaguely remember riding in it. I had an old ’35 Ford pickup when I was in high school and I always wanted another flathead,” he explained. “And I had never had a convertible.”

So he had no choice but to bid on the fully restored Bronze Maroon Metallic beauty when it came across the Mecum Auction block four years ago. It fulfilled all three of his desires in one sleek package.

“I like seeing them in original condition,” he said. The Mercury certainly meets that standard.

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Rau said he doesn’t know much about the history of this particular car, but convertibles were among Mercury’s top-of-the-line offering in the 1950 model year.

“I understand it was the Indianapolis (500) pace car that year,” he noted. Benson Ford, the head of Lincoln-Mercury at the time, did indeed lead the field to the starting line in a cream-colored Mercury convertible with the top down.

The car was one of the more powerful models on the market at the time, with its 255 cubic inch flathead V-8 producing 110 horsepower.

“It’s a pretty decent road car,” Rau said, noting the 3-speed transmission with overdrive allows it to keep up with today’s traffic. “There’s a lot of accelerator left at 70 miles an hour.”

Mercury stylists gave their cars a low, gently curved profile that remains popular with customizers today. A wide horizontal grille with thin vertical bars spans the front end, with a rounded deck lid bringing up the rear.

Beautiful flat-domed hubcaps cover the wheels on Rau’s ride, which rolls on period-correct 7.60-15 wide whitewall bias-ply Universal tires.

The Mercury has a full compliment of options: a power tan convertible top, power steering and power electric/hydraulic windows. The split-back front bench seat and full-width rear seat are upholstered in rich two-tone tan and dark brown leather.

“It takes a pretty large cow to cover all of that,” Rau joked. He added seat belts to the interior after bringing the car home.

“It has dual exhaust and riding around with the top down, it sounds real nice,” Rau said. “I make an effort to give people rides in it. There are three old fellas, farmers over near Rose Hill, that I like to take out. I fire it up and rack off the pipes and they say, ‘By golly, that makes me feel young.’ 

In a nod to his own youth, Rau also bought a white 1959 Impala hardtop very similar to one he used to own. About seven years ago, he did a complete frame-off restoration of the 1965 Ford F-100 pickup that he talked his dad into buying as a working farm truck.

“I picked out the color and he wrote the check,” he grins.

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But when the weather is nice and the farm work is caught up, it’s the Mercury convertible that comes out of the car barn.

Rau and his wife, Jeannie, enjoy cruising with the top down and even occasionally show off the Mercury at local car shows, where it often collects awards and reminds spectators of the simpler days of the early 1950s.