The Car Of My Dreams…….A 1950 Mercury

I was fifteen years old and I wanted a 1950 Mercury.  Obviously an eight-year-old car was way out of my reach. Since I wasn’t old enough to drive any car was out of my reach, but that didn’t stop me from wanting one.   Had I met my wife a few years sooner, I would have had a beautiful 1949 Mercury, but it wasn’t to be.  As the years passed, I bought, sold and sometimes repossessed cars, trucks and motorcycles. I’ve probably had more vehicles than most people in a lifetime, but never a 1950 Mercury.

Finally, in 2011 (It took a long time) I found my car, a 1950 Mercury coupe!!  It wasn’t in as good of shape as I wished for, but something I could work on. So, after overpaying for my dream car, I started the restoration.  Now fixing all the stuff I had foolishly overlooked because I wanted it so bad.  I completely overhauled the engine, did extensive body work on the door posts, replaced the radiator, wiring harness and, of course, new tires.  I knew I wanted to use the car for touring so I installed an overdrive transmission.  Without overdrive, the cruising speed is only about 60mph; overdrive allows you to drive at 70mph constantly.

As everyone knows, the mystique of the “50’s- era” Mercury goes back to the James Dean movies when the cars were associated with the “bad boy” image.  My Mercury has a V8 distinguishable from the 1950 Ford. It came with a stroked 255.4 cid and  two-barrel downdraft Holley carburetor. New, it was good for 110 bhp and over 100 mph. Later they became the car to have to customize and hot rod.  Personally, I like the cars just the way they look from the factory.

One of the things I remember about my Mercury is having the help of my good friend Dave Zimmerman join in the search.  We traveled many miles and “kicked” many tires before I settled on this one.  Today I think of Dave when I see and drive my car. Dave was master mechanic, a Mustang expert and brought AACA up to speed when the 1964 1/2 models became eligible for judging.  He served as a long-time director and as the 2005 AACA President earning the respect of those in and out of our hobby.

After all that, we started enjoying the car.  Judy and I love AACA tours and this Mercury has been on many, as well as local tours and events. I must admit I have way more time and money invested in the car than it is worth, but I don’t regret a thing.   Was it all worth it?  YES!  YES!

I hope some of you can relate to my story and maybe you can think of what is special about your favorite car.   

Here’s looking up your tail pipes,

Ray Fischer

My Studebakers

My father drove Studebakers but I did not want to drive Studebakers. So my first car was a 1952 Ford. My second car was a blue and white 1957 Ford Fairlane.  While in high school, I needed a job and so started my adventure with Studebaker by working at the Kuhnsville Studebaker Garage owned by Mr. and Mrs. Carl L Mayers.  After graduating, I continued working at the garage until Mr. Mayer’s health deteriorated. We purchased the repair garage and the Studebaker dealership in the year 1968.  I serviced and repaired all types of cars, and sold Studebakers, other used cars and Texaco gasoline.

 In 1966 when the Studebaker Corporation no longer made Studebakers, I sold new Dodge cars through Hahn & Sons Inc., owned by George and Paul Hahn in Lehighton. I operated the garage for 20 years. In 1988, I went out of the car business and drove tri-axle dump truck for Faust Trucking for 10 years. Next, I drove a big yellow cattle truck (called a school bus) for the Parkland School District for 15 years.  I retired in the year 2012.

During that time I accumulated quite a few cars.  I have the 1949 Studebaker Commander that my father owned and with which I courted Minnie. I also have a 1950 all-original Studebaker Champion that has won many awards at Hershey.  In my corral, I also have a 1951 Studebaker Champion that I purchased from a customer.  It is all-original except for the left rear fender and door.  I entered it in the HPOF class and have won many awards.  I also have a 1960 refurbished Studebaker Lark and a 1964 Studebaker Hawk plus several others not licensed to drive.  The Studebaker car was the most easily serviced car that I ever worked on. 

Studebaker was America’s oldest manufacturer of vehicles, building wagons since 1850. The South Bend, Indiana,  company was known for its low-priced Erskine and large President Eight during the 1920s. It built smaller Dictators and Commanders and large classic Presidents during the 1930s. Following 1941, it manufactured defense contract airplane engines, trucks and Weasel personnel carriers.  Its post-war offerings benefitted from Raymond Loewy Studio’s design with low profile, large glass area and flow-through fenders, with similar streamlining in the front and rear. The Studebaker L-head six-cylinder engines were simple, durable and economical. In the 1960s, Studebaker promoted its Lark, a compact car available with an L-head six-cylinder or various V-8 overhead valve engines. The Hawk series and the Avanti came with V-8 engines, some supercharged. After automobile production ended in 1966, the Studebaker Corporation continued with Paxton superchargers.

Years ago people made fun of the Studebaker, not knowing if it was coming or going, due to the radical post-war Loewy design. Now it draws more attention because the younger generation does not know what kind of a car it is.  The Studebaker was ahead of its time.  The cars had some extras that other cars did not develop until later like the hill holder, a coupling between the clutch and brake system that prevented the car from rolling backward down a hill when the clutch was engaged.

by Carl R. Breininger

1960 Studebaker Lark

1964 Hawk and 1950 Champion

Carl and his 1957 Ford Fairline