By Greg Zyla

Q: Greg, I have a 1953 mercury convertible that has been customized. It has a 1987 Lincoln 5.0 roller engine, rebuilt and bored .30 over. It has a small cam and 3:55 rear gears.

It also has air conditioning, power steering, 1993 Thunderbird bucket seats and hood with 130 louvers. My Merc also features a 1955 Pontiac grill, 1956 Buick side trim and 1956 Packard taillights. I then added Mercury Turnpike Cruiser skirts and a few other things.

My car is finished in a white pearl with pin striping and it even has keyless entry.

I understand that these 1953 Mercury convertibles are rare, and my question is how rare are they? Also, how can I find out how many are left? I really appreciate your help. I used to live on Sayco Rd., in Towanda, Pa. Thanks much, Bob Johnson, now living in Hudson, Florida.

A: Bob thanks for sending all the great photos of your unique 1953 Mercury Convertible. It is truly one of the nicer customized cars I’ve seen, and is certainly worthy of many magazine covers in my opinion.

As for being rare, in 1953 Mercury built a total of 305,863 vehicles of which just 8,463 were convertibles. They were all powered by the Flathead 255-inch V8 that produced 125 horses. The base price of your convertible back then was $2,390, which was a good amount of money back in 1953.

Your Mercury, however, has long since gone the way of a stock ’53 convertible. Your excellent customizing brings out the best of what a real street sled was like in the 1950s, including items like continental kits, real spinner tipped wire wheels, different grilles and tail lamps, full length lake pipes and fender skirts, all of which were part of the recipe for a “cool ride.”

You’ve gone far beyond a “Fifties Sled,” though. With the modern conveniences of a 302-inch V8 Lincoln engine conversion along with popular additions of air conditioning to keyless entry, your Mercury has modern retro appeal which makes it more valuable than a stock Mercury by far.

I notice in your photos much more, including a four deck stereo system in the trunk and an interior that is also well done thanks to the “rolled and pleated” treatment.

You really have a beautiful custom Mercury on your hands, Bob. I feel your car is one of the nicest customized ’53 Mercurys in the country thanks to the modern engine and drivetrain. Take good care of it because of the 8,463 originally built, and considering there are no concrete numbers available, I doubt there are few left in excellent condition, and even fewer featuring work like you have done on your beauty.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto writer who welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia and old-time racing at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848 or email at



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