Custom Bumpers, Taillights, Skirts, Hood Corners,
       and Park Lights
     Bodywork and Paint

When this Merc came to Rosie's it looked like it was already finished. It had already been chopped, painted flat black primer, and had frenched headlights and a '53 Desoto 9-tooth grille. The new owner had some ideas of his own and wanted to step up the bodywork a bit. The result (all modesty aside) is this stunning custom '51 Merc.
The paint is Standox Real Black covered with PPG's Flexed 'n' Flat Clear mixed with a percentage of gloss clear to achieve this very dark black semi-gloss look. This combination gives all the flaw-highlighting power of a gloss clear with the unbuffability of a flat clear. As if the road to the paint booth wasn't full of enough adventure...
   Smoothing the Front Bumper

The owner wanted to eliminate the license plate and the flat part of the front bumper behind it. A second Merc bumper was used to fill the gap and make the rounded center section. We then eliminated the bumper bolts for a smooth, unblemished curve of heavy chrome to adorn the front end. Unfortunately out of frame, the hood corners have been rounded significantly in front and subtly in back.

   Adventures in DeSoto Dentistry

The owner wanted to add two teeth to his grille. That meant respacing the other nine and re-drilling all the mounting holes. He also wanted to add park lights, and a friend suggested putting them in the outermost teeth. It was a fantastic idea, and Rosie's customized a pair of Oldsmobile backup lenses to fit the teeth and built the buckets to fit inside.
   Smoothing the Rear Bumper

The rear bumper had been pre-customized for a previous owner and featured two '40 Chevy taillights with housings embedded in the bumper. The new owner wanted '54 Merc taillights and wanted to shrink the license plate mounting area of the bumper to better match the plate. Once again, two bumpers were used to make one and the result is a much cleaner look, like the rest of the smoothed car.
   My Geometry Teacher Would Be so Proud...

If you've never seen a thousand dollar taillight lens before, here's the prototype. We didn't charge that much, but we should have! When we cut two pair of lenses to get the 6-ripple look, the lenses were too narrow for the quarters by over an inch on both sides. Our bright idea was to cut the lenses down the middle and widen them rather than mess with the graceful shape of the quarters. It worked, but some of the ripples no longer came to a point due to the slanted nature of the lens. We started over with 6 new stock lenses.
   Making Lenses was Only Half the Battle

Long story short, by the time we had a pair of lenses that looked right in the car, each lens contained 14 pieces of precisely hand sawn, sanded, and fitted plastic. Each.
Here is a finished lens in the quarter panel. 5/16" round stock was used to make the frame, which was notched for the lens ripples. If you looked at the car from the side, you'd notice that the slant of the lens matches the slant of the housing matches the slant of the rear bumper ends. That's attention to detail!
   A Customizable Kustom: Two Sets of Skirts!

The real kicker, though, are the skirts. Not satisfied with just one pair of flush-mounted skirts, the owner wanted two. One set with the '51 lip at the bottom, one set '50-style without lip. Mounting one set of skirts flush and doing the bodywork is hard enough. Try doing two!
The '50 skirts were smaller than the '51s and had a nice shape, so the quarters were cut to fit the 50's. The hardware on the back of the skirts was eliminated and four alignment pegs were welded to the top. Spring-loaded pins were handmade and added to the sides at the bottom corners. Then the '51 skirts were cut down to the right shape, and pegs and pins added in precisely the same places as the other skirts. Then the fun began with the bodywork. First, one set was filled to match the quarter panel, then the other set filled using duct tape to keep from sanding the quarter's filler. Unbelieveably, there is no more than 3/16" filler anywhere around those skirts. Well within ASE specs.
If it were my car, I would pinstripe "Friday" inside one set of skirts and "Saturday" in the other, like underwear.

Copyright 2007 Rosie's Great Body and Paint     1961 Obispo Avenue  Signal Hill, California 90755     info@rosiesgreatbody.com