In the world of EVs, it’ll be hard to find anything cooler than this Tesla-powered ‘Derelict’ 1949 Mercury Coupe by ICON. Not even the latest Alfa Romeo Giulia sent back 60 years in time by the somewhat nondescript design studio, ErreErre Fuoriserie, could match the “uncreating” concept of ICON’s Derelict Mercury.
It’s incorrect to describe this ICON’s creation as a desecration of the Mercury Coupe, not when a Flathead V8-powered 1949 2-door sedan is prepped with a Tesla-sourced performance battery and two electric motors churning out 400 horsepower. Electrifying a classic car is one of the most satisfying modification project ever, which is why it’s become such rave in recent times. But some modders like ICON are just better at doing the thing.
This fact was reinforced at the unveiling of the 1949 ‘Derelict’ Mercury Coupe at the Las Vegas SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in November 2018. The Mercury isn’t ICON’s only ‘Derelict’. The list includes the 1949 GMC Derelict Long Bed, the 1949 Hudson Derelict Coupe, the 1951 DeSoto Derelict Wagon, and many others.
The idea of a Derelict is, of course, to inject an old classic with an electrified powertrain while maintaining its worn, old exterior. The 1949 Mercury can only be truly grateful for this rejuvenation.
The ICON 4X4’s Derelict 1949 Mercury EV: Remembering The Third-Generation Mercury Eight
The 1949 Mercury belongs to the third generation Mercury Eight from the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company produced between 1939 and 1951. The third generation model years began in 1949 until 1951, during which they were offered as a 2-door coupe, 2-door Monterey coupe, 2-door convertible, 2-door station wagon, and 4-door sedan.
Ford introduced the Mercury Eight as a full-size in-betweener for the Ford Deluxe and the Lincoln models. The first-generation models had a distinct body design, while the second-gen featured a Ford body variation. Production stopped and resumed after the Second World War. The first Mercury after the war is the third generation Mercury Eight which the 1949 coupe belongs. It shared its body with the Lincoln EL Series because parent company Ford had joined both to become the Lincoln-Mercury Division.
Even so, it carried over its 118-inch wheelbase, still slotting it between the similarly-sized Ford and Lincoln counterparts. It also carried over the prewar 239 Flathead V8 engine with more power than its Ford counterpart. At this point, Mercury got rid of the signature running boards and separate fenders, now that it had upgraded its prewar body to a ‘ponton’ body.
It was during these post-war revisions that the Mercury wagon was changed from a 4-door to a 2-door model with steel bodywork and wood body paneling.
Other newly-introduced features included full instrumentation on the dashboard, an optional 8-tube AM radio, and an optional overdrive system activated by a handle underneath the dashboard. The revisions, which centered on dressing the Mercury in a Lincoln livery, made business sense for Ford as the nameplate broke sales records in 1949.
Mercury would later replace the Mercury Eight with the full-sized Monterey (introduced in 1950 as a trim option) for the 1952 model year, lasting until 1974. The Blue Oval meant the Monterey, with its independent front suspensions and stabilizer bars, to take on GM’s 2-door hardtop coupes.
With the third generation Mercury Eight’s increasing popularity with customizers and rodders, Mercury renamed it Mercury Custom. For example, the Sam and George Barris Hirohata Merc, still regarded as the most famous custom car ever built in the USA, was based on the body of the 1949 Mercury.
The third-gen Mercury has been in no less than ten films, not counting music videos and video games. It’s still a hot subject for models as proven by the many fiberglass replicas and ICON’s recent electric adaptation of the coupe.
The California Handmade ICON Derelict Mercury Is Just Awesome
“This is quite the pioneering project,” says ICON 4X4. “It started with a few simple questions; “Why are all production EV vehicles devoid of heart and soul? Why is the aftermarket EV-conversion industry so slow to evolve and provide comprehensive systems and solutions? Why can’t you have the best of both worlds: the style and quality of a vintage vehicle with modern performance and functionality?” Well, we say you can have your cake and eat it too!”
This line of thought led to equipping a weather-beaten 1949 Mercury Eight with a full 85 kWh Tesla-sourced performance battery and two electric motors that make 470 pound-force feet of torque and the equivalent of 400 horsepower with no shifts up to 120 MPH top speed. ICON arranged the battery strategically throughout the vehicle to maximize weight balance.
They grafted two Tesla Supercharger-compatible charging ports for the battery; one positioned at the original gas inlet, and the other a CHAdeMO 125A fast-charge plug behind the front license plate. The modernized powertrain was co-engineered by ICON 4X4 and Stealth EV, While the 4-wheel-independent chassis was developed in partnership with Art Morrison Enterprises.
The electro-hydraulic setup from a second-gen Toyota MR2 is to thank for the superb steering while the big, unassisted Brembo brakes with master cylinder ensure that stopping power is far easier than you’d expect from a chunky old-school like this.
ICON said a pioneering EV management system protects the batteries from overcharging and also provides thermal management and a host of capabilities and protections. The electric powertrain should shift the big derelict up to 200 miles on a full charge and a top speed of 120 mph. ICON could’ve just packed the guts under the hood and called it a day.
Instead, the electric powertrain components like batteries and controller system components were arranged in period-V8 and CNC’ed in aluminum to promote that vintage look. They didn’t ‘touch’ the body; it retains the original factory paint. For ICON’s creations, the term ‘Derelict’ is both fascinating and technically incorrect.