Rob Ida-built 1940 Merc takes SEMA Best of Show trophy from Ford
Kurt Ernst on Nov 6th, 2015
Rob Ida’s build of a 1940 Mercury coupe for owner Jack Kiely has been in the works since at least 2008. As with any project this ambitious, delays are inevitable, but in this case, worth the wait: After debuting the Lincoln Zephyr inspired custom three-window coupe at SEMA, Rob and his team have picked up a Best of Show design award from Ford Motor Company.
The project began with a 1940 Mercury business coupe, but one would be hard pressed to tell from the end result. The car’s top was the first to go, and the next step in the process was the construction of a steel skeleton to carry the custom stretched and streamlined roof, built from hand-shaped steel panels.
The hood was scratchbuilt, too, as were the rear fenders that flow into a sculpted rear. In keeping with the streamliner design theme, both front and rear fenders are skirted, and just because it’s cool, the doors were reversed from rear-opening to front-opening. Even the chrome trim that adorns the fenders and rocker panels was hand crafted from brass before being sent off for plating.
The interior is completely custom as well, built around a hand-built steel dash, and the trunk carries a pair of vintage suitcases wrapped in the same leather as the seats and door panels. For such an imaginative build, the cockpit is remarkably understated and inviting.
Though the exterior is a work of art, what lies beneath the hood is equally impressive. The woven orange cloth spark plug leads and Ardun rocker covers give the car a vintage look, but underneath all that engine dressing is a 5.8-liter supercharged V-8, liberated from a late model Shelby GT500 Mustang. With roughly 660 horsepower on tap, the three-window Merc is as much about performance as it is about style.
Expect to see Jack Kiely’s three-window Merc on the show circuit in 2015, and it’s a safe bet that Ford’s Best in Show Design Award at SEMA is just the first of many trophies to come.