Junkyard Find: 1952 Mercury Custom Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1952 mercury custom sedan

Ordinary family sedans of the 1940s and 1950s look cool and everyone claims to love them, but the sad reality is that hardly anyone with the time, money, space, and skills to restore an old Detroit car bothers with the postwar four-doors. I see 1946-1959 American sedans, mostly in pretty solid condition, with depressing regularity in the big self-service wrecking yards I frequent, and this ’52 Mercury in Denver is the latest one.

When it first arrived in the yard, it was absolutely complete, with 255-cubic-inch flathead V8 engine and all the body panels and trim. It had been in the yard’s fenced-off “builder” lot, available for well under a grand to anyone who wanted it. There were no takers, so after a couple of months it went into the Ford section of the main yard, loitering among the Tauruses and Mystiques.

A pair of Mercury fanatics must have been checking for this car every day, because they were on it immediately, yanking the engine, much of the trim, and the front body components. I did the exact same thing with a ’41 Plymouth sedan in another yard, so I understand.

This car was saturated with more rodent poop than any junkyard vehicle I’ve ever seen, and Colorado is a place where mice invade neglected cars. I haven’t caught hantavirus… yet.

Lloyd W. Stephens Co. appears to have been a dealership in Washington State; there’s an oil-change sticker from a shop in Longview, Washington, as well.

Could it have been restored? Sure, the exterior was solid and all the glass and trim were present, prior to hitting the yard’s inventory. However, a complete ’52 Mercury interior restoration costs real money, which most would rather invest in a convertible or at least a coupe.

I took this shot with a 1910 Ansco Dollar Camera, loaded with Kodak Ektar film.

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2 of 31 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 02, 2019

    Take back the bumpers were chrome the only thing chrome on the car and the only thing that didn't rust even in Houston.

  • JimC2 JimC2 on Apr 16, 2019

    If I had money, I tell you what I'd do, I'd go downtown and buy a Mercury or two...

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.