Hirohata Merc sold for US$1.95 million

The world's most famous custom car has changed handsfor a staggering price


UPDATE: The Bob Hirohata Mercury sold at Mecum Kissimmee on Saturday, 15 January , 2022 for $1.95 million before auction fees. This was far above the $1,000,000 – $1,250,000 guiding range suggest by Mecum. To truly appreciate this incredible piece of history, check out the doco above.

Documentary review:

It’s not very often we review a half-hour documentary, but every now and then something truly special comes along that deserves – no, demands – to be included in the Fanging Flick mix.

The Haggarty Drivers Association has a number of excellent docos on its YouTube channel, but Hirohata Merc: Custom Legend genuinely moved me to tears.

Many will be familiar with this iconic Mercury, built by famed customisers George and Sam Barris for then-owner Bob Hirohata. The build broke new ground in customising and set the trend for many that followed. The doco covers the famed custom’s journey from its initial build and lauded reception in the early 1950s through to its fall from grace as the custom movement began to fade, before its eventual resurrection in the hands of its saviour, Jim McNiel.

Not only was McNiel responsible for ensuring the Mercury survived, but he also has a profound relationship with the car and its legacy, which adds much to this tale. Jim, along with his family and a team of some of America’s most talented tradesmen, breathed life back into an icon, all the while embodying the inspiration, soul and pride that drives so many car crafters to strive for perfection.

The inclusion of interviews with some of our hobby’s greatest contributors – Junior Conway, Pat Ganahl and the late George Barris – reinforces the car’s significance. Even those who didn’t have a hand in it originally agree that its influence stretches across all generations and build genres. To quote Jim McNiel: “The healthiest thing you can do is to get your personality out there in your car and let people see how you’re thinking – this is who I am; it comes from the heart.”

The restored Hirohata Merc has been on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA, but at the time of writing it is up for sale. One can only hope that the eventual new owners keep it on public display for everyone to enjoy.


THIS doco isn’t just for car people. Sure, it just happens to be about an awesome custom build, and yes, we’re biased as heck, but this story has universal appeal. The underlying thread is the importance of having passion and respecting history, and how the mateships formed in the process are often the most rewarding thing of all. Sound familiar? Check the whole thing out here.



1951 Mercury Club Coupe
1950 Ford coupe
1940 Ford convertible
1935 Ford sedan
1954 Chevrolet Bel Air
1936 Ford three-window coupe
1956 Buick hardtop
1932 Ford three-window coupe


Jim McNiel
Hershel ‘Junior’ Conway
Pat Ganahl
George Barris
Greg Sharp

Conor Kelley

Some very cool period footage and stills from the 1950s and 60s blended with modern-day cruise action

This documentary follows the life of the Hirohata Mercury from its original build in 1952 through to its current life on display at the Petersen Museum

Free on YouTube

Sadly, the Mercury’s namesake and original owner, Bob Hirohata, was shot and killed in an execution-style murder in May 1981.