1949 Mercury Bettancourt- Barris Version

The Barris Version of the Bettancourt Mercury.

In late ’52 or early 53 Louie wanted to update his custom Merc and brought it to Barris. The second version of the Bettancourt Merc is one of the few second version that is as good and perhaps even in improvement over the original version. Ussual second versions get overdone and are just to get ahead of the changes in the scene, but not so with the Barris version of the Bettancourt Mercury. The modifications done by Barris to Ayala’s original custom work where subtile, stylish and with respect for its original look. The original car had the feel of a 40’s custom with its all shaved body. Barris must have realized a bit more sparkling and lines/directions (side trim) where needed to make this custom flow just a bit better.

Al the wonderful Ayala bodywork was left alone, that was perfect already. A ’49 Cadillac side trim was added to the side, mounted lower than the stock Merc position and actually covering the top of the wheel opening, thus visual lowering the car.
A extremely beautifull grille was fabricated (arguably one of Barris best grilles) using several ‘52 grilles for the horizontal part and 51 Ford grille end tips. The teeth inside came from a 52 Mercury.

The stock Mercury bumpers where replaced with ’53 Pontiac Deluxe items with those wonderful end extentions. The rear bumper was made from a narrowed and recontoured front bumper. Both front and rear where fitted with ’52 Kaiser guards. And at the rear the exhaust was routed thru the guard bullets. The rear end extentions of the bumper work absolutely wonderful with the frenched taillights Ayala did a few years earlyer.

The Caddy Sombrero hubcaps where replaced with ’53 Studebaker units with fake knockoff’s and fitted with Barris crest. (imho the one thing that was overdone on this version). Two Barris Crest where also added to the frontfenders just in front of the doors. Barris painted the Bettancourt Merc in a mile deep Tingia maroon. Glen Houser of the Carson Top Shop created a fantastic interior using an egg-white tuck & roll with wine colored fabric which was butten tuffed.

In '56 Bettancourt sold his merc to Johnny Zupan and he had Barris made a third version of it. This time however all Barris did was just to much and I lost intrest in the car.

Much later the car was owned by Dean Jeffries and the car had undergone some more ugly modifications including quad headlights!!! The custom was stoledn of his property and never seen again. Although some believe it still ecits somewhere, nobody seams to really know where. I hope however thatone day this car will become in the hands of a tru custom car enthusiast and be turned into its first or second edition. This one is a true milestone custom that should be around for us to enjoy.

Photo's of its original Ayala version can be seen here:

© see info on the photos. (Rik Hoving Kustoms)


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  • justin mozart (Private)
    13 years 1 month ago
    Very rare shot of Johnny Zupan in the bettancourt car!! Very impressive!! Does anybody know of this cars whereabouts? Thanks.