If you were lucky enough to catch all of the sun and fun at last weekend’s Goodguys, 31st All American Get-Together, then you no doubt had the chance to enjoy the finest in rod and custom that Pleasanton, California had to offer. The Alameda County Fairgrounds were packed with the best in old iron, but it was the event’s “Custom of the Year” recipient, Nick Rogers who really swept-up the spotlight.
Rogers is a Burlingame, California local who owns this award-winning, full-custom ’51 Mercury. Built and finished for the car show season by second-generation rodder, Bill Ganahl and South City Rod and Custom of San Francisco, the entire sled has been covered in a rich shade of candy blue from House of Kolor, while further streamlining the rod by chopping the roof by 4-inches and forward-slanting the B-pillars.
All of these aesthetic tweaks were made possible by Matt Townsend of Townsend Customs & Hot Rods in Riverside, California, and Matt was also responsible for the clever install of a ’50 Merc rear window, adding to a list of clean yet subtle exterior mods. Also included in these are a ’53 DeSoto grille, ’49 Merc dash and a complete side trim from a ’55 Ford with spears off of a Packard.
Nick’s ’51 lead sled is more than simply a finished product, it’s an artistic milestone that pays tribute to the collaborative forces that made the build happen, “I wanted a thirty thousand-dollar, flat black Merc custom,” explains Rogers of the Mercury build. “That’s how this car started out, but once things got rolling and I began to dream, the project took on a life of its own.”
Rogers’ sled is a custom build that drives as nice as it looks, and this is largely due to the Art Morrison chassis underneath that keeps the whole thing supported. On top of this, the Merc’s engine compartment is as detail-oriented as the rest of the custom, as a set of hand-made compartment panels house what Rogers calls a “Chevrolac,” a painted and lettered Chevy small-block with custom-fitted, Caddy valve covers.
South City Rod and Custom’s, Bill Ganahl has plenty of experience building custom rides. In fact, Bill’s hot rod building experience can be traced back to his days in Southern California, the hot bed for Ganahl’s education in automotive. For years, Bill worked for Roy Brizio’s Street Rods as an apprentice, where he spent ample time perfecting the traditional rod style.
If it wasn’t enough that Bill Ganahl spent the earliest days of his career pursuing custom cars as a craft, he drove back and forth for years, to and from Brizio’s in the ’50 Ford that served as his everyday driver. Being as that was, it was safe to assume, even from the beginning of Rogers’ custom Merc build that the candy blue sled was in the attentive hands of a true enthusiast who knows hot rods. It’s also safe to assume that Rogers’ ’51 Mercury provides a pleasant cruise that’s perfect for a drive through the Bay Area.
Bill Ganahl, who drove the Merc some 60 miles from his shop in South San Francisco to Pleasanton for the All American Get-Together, describes the Mercury’s driving dynamic as requiring only a “pinky on the steering wheel,” as Bill himself describes it. If you were in attendance at Pleasanton’s Goodguys Mothers, All American Get-Together, then you may have passed by Nick Rogers’ cool Merc custom, and if you did, then there’s no possible way you could have missed it! Congratulations to Nick for winning the Get-Together’s “Custom of the Year” award for 2013!