Just when you thought every possible modification could be done to a classic ’49-to-’51 Mercury coupe, along comes a brilliant variation on that theme, and this time, it’s from Perth, Australia. Bruno Gianoncelli’s “Mercules” is so radically different from the traditional Mercury customs that it almost defies description. It has been a show-stopper since it was first unveiled; it attracted nonstop crowds at the 2007 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and it won the coveted Custom Sweepstakes “Best Custom” Trophy at Blackie Gejeian’s invitation-only Fresno Autorama, in 2008.
The all-metal original body was chopped four inches in the rear, a bit less in front and the A-pillars were dramatically canted back seven inches. Then it was hard-topped, and slammed to within inches of the ground. Some 175 separate modifications contribute to this car’s unique look, one that is reminiscent of the classic Mercs, yet almost entirely different. You can start with the canted quad E-Class Mercedes-Benz headlights that mirror the angle of the windscreen, peruse the reshaped and extended hood and the full custom grille, then trace the angular sweeping sidespear that accents the original side reveals, then speeds up and contemporizes the car’s appearance.
Wheel openings front and rear were distinctively altered and reshaped to compliment the custom sidespear; the originally stubby rear of the Mercury was extended about 6.5-inches, the decklid was dramatically reshaped and new taillights were fully custom-fabricated. Both the front and rear bumpers were eliminated in favor of fully molded roll pans.
There is a lower, entirely new floorpan and the rear wheel arches were tubbed to accommodate oversized 18-inch custom Bonspeed finned alloy wheels with Falken performance tires, and to permit the car’s greatly reduced overall height. The custom suspension consists of modified, Jaguar-based independent front and rear A-arm units with Air Ride Technologies adjustable shocks, Precision Brakes calipers and Wilwood rotors. The suspension was engineered for six inches of movement to ensure a compliant ride. There is a height sensor for each wheel so the suspension can maintain its pre-selected ride height.
As befitting a Mercury that breaks all the rules, the enormous, chromed and polished powerplant is a 6.8-liter, Autorotor 424 supercharged, Autronic electronically-fuel-injected, 650 brake horsepower Ford V10 F350 truck engine hooked to a Ford 4R100 four-speed automatic transmission.
The trunk is filled to capacity with a full-bore, Auto Art-conceived and installed Pioneer Audio system. Details abound wherever you look in this fine creation, like the custom shifter by Tony Wardle, which resembles a piece of modern sculpture, and the unique billet grille, which was CNC’ed from a single slab of aluminum alloy.
Impact Paint and Panel created a custom House of Kolor twin-tone paint scheme with medium blue over dark blue panels to emphasize this thoroughly modern Mercury’s new, low stance. The paintwork alone consumed 1,000 man hours. Inside, a totally custom interior was conceived, first by creating a plasticine model, then by hand-forming a remarkable creation that flows continuously from the dash, through the console, all the way to the rear.
Gianoncelli, a plasterer by trade, had never before built a custom car, but he had a definite perspective. As he told Unique Wheels author Steve Nally, “I wanted New Millenium, but (a look) that didn’t take away from the shape of the car, and I think we succeeded.” He says he was inspired to build a custom Mercury when he saw Sylvester Stallone’s chopped and primered sled roaring across the screen in the film “Cobra.” Starting with a clean sheet of paper, Bruno Gianoncelli created a Merc like no other before or since.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
650bhp, 6.8-liter supercharged electronically-fuel-injected Ford V10 engine, Ford 4R100 four-speed automatic transmission, highly modified Jaguar-based independent front and rear suspension with Air Ride Technologies adjustable shocks, Precision Brakes calipers with Wilwood rotors. Wheelbase: 118"
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