Sales figures in 1949 for both Ford and Mercury broke records. The 1949 Mercury Eight was the first post World War Two design. The Mercury Eight was first introduced in 1939 and lasted until the 1951 model year.
The new design introduced in 1949 would also last through the 1951 model year. The Mercury's new design for 1949 was truly new. The design was so well received that the 1950 Mercury models would see very little changes from the 1949 models.
Some other automobile post war designs were considered little different than the prewar models. The 1949 Mercury was different. Just about everything was changed when compared to the 1948 models. The Lincoln model of that year also came out with a clearly new design. All models of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury lines came out with much more modernized designs in 1949.
Mercury's Place in the Ford Motor Company Line
Mercury was created to be positioned between the Fords and the Lincolns. The price gap between the highest priced Ford model and the lowest priced Lincoln model was large. The Mercury was meant to fill that large price gap.
The marquee name was introduced in 1938 by Edsel Ford, Henry Ford I's son. The Mercury was also introduced in spite of the fact that Henry Ford didn't believe he needed a new brand.
The 1939 Mercury style was all new and didn't share any paneling with either Ford or Lincoln. In 1938 Mercury was set up as an entirely separate company as was Lincoln. This however changed in 1945 when the two were merged into Lincoln-Mercury. An interesting note is that the Mercury brand was an all new creation as opposed to the Lincoln brand which was acquired by Ford in 1922.
The Mercury was considered, at least by Ford Motor Company, an entry level luxury vehicle. Ford's goal was to have car buyers perceive the Mercury as a lower priced Lincoln rather than a higher priced Ford.
The price of the new 1949 Mercury ranged between $1,950 to $2,500. As a comparison, the 1949 Ford V-8 price averaged between $1,500 and $2,000. The 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan was priced around $4,000. You can easily see how the Mercury pricing filled a large void.
The Bathtub Generation
The 1949 Mercury shown in this article was the first of the 'bathtub" generation. The bathtub moniker was a result of the 1949's bulbous style. The photo of the trunk area in this article is a good example of this. The 1949 Mercury model came in a 2 and 4 door sedan, a convertible and a wagon.
1949 Mercury Specs
The 1949 Mercury came with a flat head V-8 engine. Specs were 255.4 cid with 110-112 HP. The wheelbase was 118.0 inches and the car's length was 207 inches.The 1949 Mercury's weight averaged 3,321 to 3,800 pounds.
Production figures for the 1949 model year sedan were 156,000. Coupe figures were 120,000 and the Mercury convertible about 17,000.
As a comparison, the 1948 model year sedan production totaled about 41,000 units. About 17,000 coupes were built and about 7,500 convertibles. It should be noted that the 1949 Mercury model came out in April of 1948 which adversely effected the 1948 figures.
The Lead Sled
Some automobile models are turned into hot rods and others into "Lead Sleds." In a large way, the lead sled is also a hot rod of a somewhat different sort. Lead sleds are considered to be modified full size American cars usually from the 1950's.
The 1949 Mercury is included in that category. The full size lead sled typically has the suspension altered and rides quite low. The word "lead" came from the fact that in modification lead was used as a body filler. This was prior to the introduction of "bondo." Bondo was introduced by 3M as a two part putty. The lead filler was used after the side moldings such as the door handles of the automobile to be modified were shaved off. The roof line was also lowered and the paint customized. The lead sled hot rod might have bright paint showing flames.
A Great Collector's Car
The entire 1949 through 1951 Mercury Eight models are popular collector's cars which hold their value well. The most popular model is the 1949 wagon. Some average auction sale prices on 1949 Mercury's as of this date are as follows. These are average sales prices. Sedan about $18,000...coupe about $29,000...convertible about $59,000 and the woody wagon about $66,000. As with all classic and vintage cars and trucks, the actual sales prices will vary a good amount depending on condition and extent of restoration.
(Photos from author's collection. Edsel Ford photo from the public domain)