As customs go, you cannot get much better than a classic 1953 Mercury two-door hardtop coupe orchestrated by John D’Agostino, who almost singlehandedly revived the art of customizing since the 1970s. Over the intervening years, his fertile imagination has resulted in a veritable multitude of custom creations that emphasize and retain the best design elements of each original car with tasteful custom accents, creating a truly unique statement every time.
A seasoned competitor on the West Coast ISCA show circuit by the early 1970s, D’Agostino developed a particular affinity for customized Mercurys after viewing George Lucas’ iconic American Graffiti in 1973. Shortly thereafter, D’ Agostino purchased a nearly restored 1951 Mercury, but found it too nice to customize, so he simply completed the restoration and sold the car, clearing space for the purchase of another 1951 Mercury. This time, D’Agostino radically customized the Mercury, which he dubbed the Midnight Sensation and true to its name, the car created a sensation in the parking lot at the 1975 edition of the Oakland Roadster Show, forging D’Agostino’s growing stature in the custom car world.
In 1983, D’Agostino commissioned Bill Reasoner to build his new project, a 1953 Mercury Two-Door hardtop coupe, which was an already very stylish car in stock form. Eventually known as the “Royal Tahitian”, the mild custom was frenched, lowered, shaved and finished with an eye-catching candy red paint job. Rear fender skirts were added, along with spotlights, a custom chrome plated grille insert and front bumper, while the original faux hood scoop was dechromed. Following completion, the car was displayed on the California show circuit in 1986, capturing "Best of Show" at the popular West Coast Customs show at Paso Robles. After it was displayed at the 1987 Sacramento Autorama, D’Agostino traded the “Royal Tahitian” for the Jade Idol of celebrated customizer Gene Winfield.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
250 bhp, 350 cu. in. Chevrolet V8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, GM three-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 118"