Roster and Gallery
1942 Mercury Eight Tudor Sedan
The 1942 year model Mercurys (model 29A) were introduced in October 1941 with a new larger chassis and several performance and ride enhancements. Most notable were the Mercury’s increased wheel base to 118 inches (Fords were 114), distinctive new front body styling, all new instrumentation, better front and rear suspension, better body isolation from road vibration, quieter interiors, easier braking and an improved 100 horsepower Mercury V8 239 cu. in. engine as standard equipment. The power-to-weight ratio was among the best of the industry while maintaining good fuel economy. Standard rear axle ratio was 3.54:1. Columbia overdrive was not offered. All interiors and body trim were deluxe with no low-end models as with the Fords. Total 1942 model Mercury production was just under 25,000. This car is one of approximately 4,100 Two Door Sedans built. Due to their low production for only five months, there are very few 1942 Mercurys remaining in factory stock running condition today. They are becoming quite rare. They are representative of a difficult to find but innovative year model for the auto collector.
The Mercury is impressive to see next to a comparable 1942 Ford V8 Super Deluxe. The Mercury’s more stately good looks, larger size, lower height with superior trim appointments and interior details would certainly be alluring to the new car buyer looking for something a bit up scale as a new car purchase. Many Ford dealers in 1942 were authorized to sell the popular Mercury line first introduced in 1939 if they met certain criteria particularly for financial resources, staffing, parts and service capability. It became important for the Ford - Mercury dealer to have well informed sales and service people to inform customers of the differences, pleasure and value they were getting with the more expensive cars. The 1942 Ford 95 hp V8 Super Deluxe Tudor Sedan had a retail price without accessories of $885.00 plus tax and shipping fee. The Mercury “Sedan” was $145.00 more (16% higher) and represented excellent value. Bear in mind that $145.00 might have easily represented a sizable portion of a month’s take home pay for many people in 1942.
In late 1941, new cars were already becoming difficult to obtain due to government imposed diversion of critical manufacturing materials and significant factory capacity to support wartime U.S. allies. With the U.S. entry into WWII (Dec. 8th, 1941), the government immediately set a further reduction on domestic car production with a scheduled complete cessation of domestic car production and conversion to wartime manufacturing on or before February 10, 1942. This was a blow to the industry and public since the economy was doing very well and most carmakers were introducing completely new 1942 model styling and engineering features. This was certainly true at Ford Motor Company.
Window glass manufacture date codes “J-DA” on this Mercury translate to October 1941, which means the car was assembled in Nov.-Dec. 1941. The 1942 Mercurys were assembled in Dearborn, MI, Metuchen, NJ, St. Louis, MO, and Los Angeles, CA. It is most likely this car was assembled at the St. Louis, Missouri plant and delivered shortly thereafter to Larned, Kansas. The engine number (found on the transmission bellhousing) still matches the frame number on this nice original car.
This Mercury was delivered to the original owner very late in 1941or early 1942. The first owner was Dr. B.L. Gleason, a prominent physician of Larned, Kansas (a major railroad town). It is possible that the car was delivered in time for Christmas 1941 or by New Year’s day 1942, a normally joyous time. It is likely that Dr. Gleason decided to buy the new Mercury knowing that new cars would soon be impossible to obtain. New cars were actually rationed by government order starting Jan. 1, 1942. This car saw somewhat limited use due to the strict wartime gasoline and tire rationing from 1942 through 1945. Since the car has less than 42,000 original miles, it was obviously used sparingly through the 43 years of ownership by Dr. Gleason. Car pooling or use of another car was quite probable. This Mercury was never stored outside by its owners through the years. There is no evidence of heavy winter use or residual rust damage on the car.
It is clear that this Mercury was well maintained steadily since all the running gear is original and the engine has never needed rebuilding or exchange. The car was in active use by Dr. Gleason for over 30 years. Original papers with the car include a battery warranty card indicating a new battery was installed in Nov. 1957 by Mac’s Auto Sales and Service in Larned, KS. Another quaint historic artifact was found with the car - a Kansas Highway Patrol “OK” safety inspection window decal dated 6-15-1972 showing inspection took place at the Larned, Kansas Sheriff’s Dept. These both confirm the car did not move from its home base in Larned for at least 30 years. This Mercury remained with its original owner a remarkable 43 years. There must have been keen sentiment for the car to keep it in the family until 1985.
After Dr. Gleason’s passing in 1984, his widow had assistance by a family member in 1985 to sell the car by trucking it to an old service garage known as Soneff’s Master Garage in downtown Denver, Colorado. John Soneff operated an independent service garage at the former location of an early Hudson dealership and occasionally took good cars on consignment for resale to car buffs. He sold the car in June 1985 for $5,000. The second owner, a Denver career policeman, owned the car for another twenty years. During that time, he had the engine checked over and serviced (new head gaskets and major tune-up), some chassis work, new wiring and new tires to make it driveable. During the latter phase of his ownership he had the car’s exterior repainted to the original Moselle Maroon in 1995. Finally, he had the entire original interior removed and replaced to factory specifications. Much of the bright metal trim on the car is original as well as the interior ivory plastic bezels and trim on the door panels and instrument panel. A shop in Pennsylvania refinished all the Mahogany Sequoia woodgraining for the instrument panel and window garnish mouldings. The upholstery is from LeBaron-Bonney of Amesbury, Massachusetts. It is correct to the original Mercury Tan Shadow Stripe broadcloth fabric, sewing methods, buttons, tufting and the tan leatherette door panels with piping. The front carpet is a tasteful embellishment beyond the standard black rubber mat. The rear carpeting is factory correct. After all this work, he only drove the car an additional 500 miles in ten years to local car cruises and charity events.
Since acquiring the Mercury in the spring of 2005, third owner Richard Miller has already done extensive chassis, suspension, engine compartment, electrical, fuel and cooling system restoration to original factory standards. He does all his own restoration work. He is interested in maintaining original factory authenticity down to the smallest detail and restoration/preservation work is moving along quite well. The car is now ready for excellent safe road trips with its Mercury engine running very reliably, smoothly with plenty of power. Several interior and exterior metal trim items had to be located and installed to maintain the integrity of the car since they had either been lost, were incorrect or in poor condition. The 1942 Mercury uses many one-year-only items particularly for its period art deco style trim, instrumentation and radio. Since they were originally made in small quantity, locating these parts for restoration is sometimes very difficult, time consuming and expensive. This car’s exterior and interior trim is complete and nearly 100% correct, thus it can be considered a rarity in that regard. More work is planned and will be completed in the months to come. The car is always popular at car shows. It brings great pleasure to all the Mercury Eight enthusiasts who remember these excellent cars as it rolls along the highway and at shows.