Marmon-Herrington, Incorporated, of Indianapolis, Indiana began converting Ford cars and trucks to four-wheel drive in 1937. The company, originally formed to build all-wheel drive military vehicles, was kept busy during World War II building combat tanks and trucks, as well as wreckers and winch trucks for barrage balloons.
At war’s end, the company embarked on a program of diversification, entering the market for multi-stop delivery vehicles. The Delivr-All was a short-wheelbase van with a removable front axle and engine unit. Equipped for standing or seated drivers, it was built from 1945 to 1952. Marmon-Herrington also built some buses and trolleys.
Production of converted Fords and Mercurys resumed in 1946 using the new 69A models as a basis. These continued through the end of 89A production in June 1948. Six cylinder engines became available near the end. Thereafter, conversions were confined to F-1, F-3 and F-4 trucks. In 1950, production began on a Ranger model, a conversion of an F-1 panel truck in the four-wheel drive Suburban idiom. The advent of factory four-wheel drive at Ford in 1959, however, put an end to the long record of Marmon-Herrington conversions.
The truck business was spun off as Marmon Motor Company in 1963. It closed in 1997 but Marmon-Herrington survives as a supplier of axles and transfer cases for large trucks and specialty vehicles.
For Ford, station wagon production halted at Iron Mountain in March 1948. The facility was slated to build the new hybrid steel-wood bodies for 1949 Fords and Mercurys, and the Mercury came on line first, in April. Thus total Ford wagon volume for the 1948 model year was much reduced to just 8,912, barely half that of 1947 in a season half as long.
In fact, Mercury wagons were produced in even smaller numbers – only 1,889 in all for 1948. Surviving examples are highly sought after, particularly those with the Marmon-Herrington conversion, of which only a limited few were ever built. In general, Mercurys for 1948 were relatively unchanged from the ’47 model year, save for different dial faces and steering column lock. The wheelbase was still four inches longer at 118. Otherwise, these cars benefited from changes instituted in 1947, including updates to the grille, which added chrome plating to the heavy surround on the upper section. The body side trim was truncated on the after portion of the hood where a new “MERCURY” nameplate was added. Hubcaps were redesigned and given black lettering and white accents, and heavy wingtips were added to the front bumper.
The rarity of this particular Mercury woodie wagon cannot be overstated, especially in relation to the 1948 Ford Super Deluxe Station Wagon with Marmon-Herrington conversion, which is extraordinarily desirable in its own right. Such station wagons rarely come to auction, particularly examples of this caliber, restoration quality and with Marmon-Herrington conversions. One of a limited number built and even fewer to remain in existence, this wagon’s offering is an opportunity not to be missed!
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
100 bhp, 239.4 cu. in. Flathead V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118"