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.
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|
|Hershel ‘Junior’ Conway|
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
COOL FLICK FACT:
Sadly, the Mercury’s namesake and original owner, Bob Hirohata, was shot and killed in an execution-style murder in May 1981.