Update: The Hirohata Mercury built by Barris at Mecum Kissimmee was sold on Saturday, January 15, 2022 for $1.95 million before fees.
The legendary Hirohata Mercury is nearing its time at Mecum’s Kissimmee, Florida, as it represents a signature piece from the auction company’s sale. Not only does the Kissimmee Mecum sale start the year of the assembler car business, it is also one of the most important stopping points in the Mecum calendar. This makes it an ideal place to piece the history of highly sought-after automobiles or machinery to find new homes. Joining its ranks this year is Bob Hirohata’s 1951 Mercury.
We got a look at the history of Mercury built by Barris when it was first confirmed that it was headed toward the auction block. As its name suggests, Hirohata’s Mercury was built for Robert “Bob” Hirohata by the team at Barris Kustoms in 1952. Despite its relatively short time under construction, Hirohata’s Mercury has gone on to dominate the motor show circuit and great magazine covers, eventually seeing some Motion picture works. As with custom cars, Hirohata has been constantly updating his award-winning Mercury – and as is often the case, these cars tend to become unpopular with age, and the Hirohata Mercury was no exception.
After trading hands several times, Mercury who liked Hirohata sat in the used car park. This formerly pioneering custom seemed old, used, and may have been trending in the same direction as other notable custom cars such as the Barris “Kopper Kart” or Ed Roth’s “Mysterion”, and is disappearing with time. Fortunately for every car-obsessed person in the world, Jim McNiel was able to find the money to buy Bob Hirohata’s Mercury from the used car lot in 1959 and owned it until his death in 2018. Under McNiel’s ownership, the Hirohata Mercury is restored, on display, and class-winning at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2015.
It is in the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours Classic car chase F40 Motorsports host and owner Wayne Carini makes Hirohata Mercury history. While filming his TV show in Pebble Beach, Hirohata animator Mercury Herschel “Junior” Conway connected McNeill and Kareni. Carini recalls, “We talked for a while and[McNeil]said, ‘Will you sit with me in the car?'” So, I certainly said I was glad to sit in it. He said, I just want to tell you something. I hired you to help my family sell the car. I would like your permission to tell my family that you will help them sell this car upon passing.” Carini replied to McNeill, “Jim, you look healthy to me.”
Three years later, McNeil’s pass began rolling toward the auction yard. Carini didn’t take the responsibility to help resettle a legendary car lightly. He said, “I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. She’s an icon in the automotive world and now she’s given to me as the person in charge of helping his family (McNiel) sell the car. I put a lot of weight on my shoulder to do the best job possible for the family.”
About Mercury’s sale plan, Carini said, “We’ve made a decision about where to sell it. Now, we had a few offers up front, and the family decided the best way to make it fair, and for them to get as much money as possible for the car, was to go to auction. And give everyone a fair chance to buy it.”
Wisely, Carini did not take on the task of helping Hirohata Mercury alone. Carini reported his friend Ken Gross for help. Gross, for the unfamiliar, is not only a well-known journalist and walking history writer of car culture; He’s also one of the people responsible for helping cars like the Hirohata Mercury see green at Pebble Beach.
“I’ve said over and over, there’s the Hirohata Mercury, and then there are all the other habits. To me, this is the perfect custom car,” Gross said. others. The combination of that two-tone paint, Buick’s side sweep and the way the car was solid… It pioneered a number of features that people copied, but no one copied quite like this one.”
Gross probably thought the same thing when he and his judging crew had to choose a winner from a selection of some of Mercury’s most historically important customs in Pebble Beach. Gross explains: “First of all, to win the class, we judged those cars using as much of the Pebble Beach judging system…so you can judge a car that is customized this way in terms of restoration accuracy, paint quality, etc. and so forth. We had A couple of those cars that were either 99 or 100 points on a standard judging scale. What makes the difference are those three points for field presence, fame, and fame. Those last three points often separate a group of 100 points cars. It’s subjective, but that’s kind of what you have to Done because a lot of cars can score 100 points in terms of restoration perfection. So you have to look at those almost intangible things.”
Carini and Gross both got the chance to drive the Hirohata Mercury in much the same way you would likely take your weekend car for a ride. According to Gross, who is also the North American Car of the Year judge, he noted that he had no problems seeing from the car, despite its aggressive chop. “I found driving fun,” he said. “One of the things I enjoyed the most was watching people’s reactions to the car. You can’t drive past people without them turning around or pulling out the phone to take a picture.”
With a mile-long lineage and a well-established place in history, the question will always turn to price and buyer. Mecum estimates that Hirohata Mercury will hit seven figures, ranging from a cool $1 million to $1.25 million. This is clearly a lot of money. As for the buyer, Gross and Carini agree it could be just about anyone. While this car clearly captures the hearts of people who have tried it in real time, or indirectly through old magazines and movies, Mercury has removed itself from the shackles of existence. merely car. From sitting on a used car park selling for less than $1,000 to its time at the National Mall in Washington, DC, the Hirohata Merc has officially become a part of American history. It is a reflection of his time, of car culture as a whole, and is as important to some as a piece of art.
You can watch for yourself on Saturday, January 15, at the Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, Florida, to see how much the hammer is on this historic vehicle.
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