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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Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.
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