The 1950 Leo Lyons Ultra Modern Merc
In 1950, 20-year-old Leo Lyons had a dream of building a custom car unlike any other – he would scratch-build it from the ground up. Over the next few years Leo became acquainted with some of the legends of Southern California speed and custom such as Ed Iskenderian and both George and Sam Barris who would help and inspire his design. But before he began, he needed one more group on board – Ford Motor Company.
Leo’s initial plans called for building 10 identical custom cars and he was going to build each with brand new parts – and then heavily modify these parts. The chassis and body panels were purchased new from Ford. With the first set of panels on hand, Leo set to work learning how to weld and shape metal under the guidance of Sam Barris. A few parts needed to be custom built, so Leo called on the legendary metal-shaping firm “California Metal Shaping” to custom design and build the doors, hood, and top.
Leo Lyons, now 30 years old, debuted his car – The Leo Lyons Custom Merc – across Southern California Custom Car shows nearly a full 10 years after he started. Each time, he was recognized with awards and the moniker the “Ultra Modern Merc.” This car is the most radically customized ’49-51 Custom Mercury built in-period, and has been recognized as the last significant Custom Mercury built in the ‘50s.
In early 1960, it was featured on the cover of Trend Inc.’s “Custom Cars” magazine, along with a feature article. In Trend Inc.’s 1961 Custom Cars Annual, it was again recognized as one of the most significant custom Merc’s built to date with a two page feature article inside. Only this Custom Merc – his prototype – was built.