© see info on the photos. (Rik Hoving Kustoms)
1940 Mercury convertible Butler Rugard - Westergard
This 1940 Mercury is unusual because its first owner, Butler Rugard, brought it to Westergard’s sh ...more
op for customizing when it was nearly new. Custom cars were very unusual then. Rugard wanted Westergard to add a set of “fade-aways.” A fade-away is the continuation of the front fender line across the door and into the body at the base of the rear fender. Westergard must have talked him into doing much more, because the car has a chopped Carson top, 1942 Buick grille, Packard bumpers, rolled and pleated interior and fender skirts.
The car was shown at Sacramento’s Autorama in 1950.
Walker has spent two years putting the car back to its original look. A flathead V-8 is under the hood once again, a ’42 Buick grille adorns the front and the bumpers are Packard. Dave Dolman of Nebraska did the body work and Bob Sipes of Pleasant Hill did the interior.
Jack Walker’s car is as close as he could make it to the way it was when Harry Westergard finished it.
Text from: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/westergard-mercury-custom-car.htm
The 1940 Westergard Mercury was created by Harry Westergard, the grandfather of customizing. Despite his importance, Westergard's cars never received that much attention from the automotive media. The reason is simple. His career spanned from the late 1930s to the late 1940s, and the hot rod and custom magazines like Hot Rod, Motor Trend, and Hop Up didn't exist until at least 1948.
One of Westergard's creations is the 1940 Mercury featured here. A man named Butler Rugard brought the car to Westergard's Sacramento shop shortly after he bought it new.
There is no definitive documentation on the car, but it is believed that Butler initially just wanted a set of fadeaway fenders and that the customizing happened on and off over the next couple of years.
Fadeaway fenders were cutting edge for the day. The 1938 Buick Y Job show car predicted them with pontoon fenders that extended into the doors, but full fadeaways didn't make their debut until 1942 when they appeared on the Buick Super and Roadmaster models. So, for Butler Rugard to want them in 1940 and for Harry Wester gard to create them from metal represents forward thinking.
By the time the car was done, it had much more than just fadeaways. Westergard was known for using Packard or LaSalle grilles, but in this instance, he installed a 1942 Buick grille flanked by Packard headlights.
Using the Buick grille necessitated reworking the lower front portion of the hood to fit. It was the top of the hood, however, that received the most drastic changes.
Westergard peaked the hood, and ran the upper beltline around the hood's perimeter. Along the way, he eliminated the flared humps of the Mercury hood, and gave the nose a stepped prowlike protrusion, much like a period "sharknose" Graham. Rippled 1937 DeSoto bumpers were originally installed, but they were later replaced with 1941 Packard units.
Other modifications were made as well. Westergard chopped the windshield about three inches and added a Carson-style top made from parts of the original convertible top. This also required cutting the side vent windows at the top and giving them new moldings.
Teardrop fender skirts, a rolled and pleated interior, 1941 Chevy taillights, Appleton spots, and stock wheels with Packard hubcaps completed Rugard's unique custom. The car was shown at the first Autorama in Sacramento in 1950, and appeared in magazine coverage of the event. From there it faded into history until custom collector Jack Walker found the car in 2002 and teamed up with Ed Guffey to purchase it. The pair had the car restored to the way it appeared at the Autorama.
Where Rugard got the idea for fadeaway fenders on his Merc is a matter for conjecture. A style in which the front fender line trails back across the door, gradually tapering down until it flows into the rear fender, then kicks up again over the rear wheel, would be a feature of the 1941 Chrysler Newport show car. The '42 Buick Roadmasters and Supers would be the first production cars to feature fadeaway fenders, which Buick termed Airfoil styling.
After pulling in Kansas City buddy Ed Guffey as a partner in the project, Jack completed the purchase from owner Ron Marquardt. The Mercury had been in storage for much of the 30-some years Marquardt owned it. He had bought it from the second registered owners, the Fernandez family. According to the history Walker has assembled, Mrs. Fernandez was apparently the daughter of the original owner, Butler Rugard.
Steve Bateman bought this 1940 Merc Conv in 1973 in Isleton, Calif. from the Fernandez family. He kept it for about 2 years and sold it to Ron Marquardt because he had a young family to grow. Ron kept the car for the next 25 years and they cruised every summer.
The Merc's custom features evolved over the years, and at some point it suffered damage in an accident. Jack believes Rugard took it back to Westergard later, probably in 1942 or '43, to have the top chopped and the '42 Buick grille installed. He thinks Westergard himself constructed the removable, padded top, which incorporates part of the original top frame and bows into the structure. Customizer Gene Winfield gave Walker a picture of it parked outside a drug store wearing '37 DeSoto ripple bumpers.
Dave Dolman of Berdon, Nebraska, reworked the body; Bob Sipes of Pleasant Hill, Missouri, did the interior; Uncommon Engineering of Indianapolis built the Ford flathead V-8; and Sonny Rogers of Independence, Missouri, did all the mechanical work. The process took about a year and a half.
After its completion, the Westergard Mercury was an honored participant at the first gathering of historic customs at the Pebble Beach Concours
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