Arizona

16-17 January 2014

Previous Next

Lot 33

1940 Mercury 'Custom' Coupe by Charles Marr and Gerry Huth

  • Chassis no. 99A121762

Sold for $107,250


276 cu. in. L-head V-8 engine with Isky cam and Weiand dual carburetors, three-speed manual transmission with Lincoln-Zephyr gears and overdrive, semi-elliptic leaf-spring front suspension, live axle rear suspension with transverse leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 116 in.

  • One of the very first California customs
  • Built in 1940 by Charles Marr and Gerry Huth
  • Owned for four decades by the well-known Carl Morton
  • Equipped with all of the best speed equipment and trim of the period
  • A standout addition to any custom collection


Many today think of a California custom as something born out of necessity: a used car that has been carefully rebuilt by skilled amateur artisans into something fast and beautiful. However, Charles Marr bought this 1940 Mercury Convertible new in November 1939, and within two weeks, he and his friend Gerry Huth, of well-known Huth exhaust systems, had chopped the windshield three inches and added a removable Carson padded top. Note the date: the Marr/Huth Mercury is one of the very first California customs, perhaps the first customized 1940 Mercury in the Los Angeles area, and it is one of the few surviving to have intact customs built prior to World War II.



The car was acquired in 1962 by Carl Morton, the renowned customizer who had just prior taken over the former Valley Custom Shop of Burbank. Morton recognized the car as one of the first Southern California customs, and he had known both Marr and Huth to be a part of the early kustom kulture. He stored the car for some four decades, and unusual for someone who built custom cars for a living, he appreciated its originality. Thus, not only does this car retain to the present day all of its original customized body panels, including the fenders, doors, hood, and trunk lid, but it also has such prized small trim pieces as the window frames, vent windows, dashboard, and window trim.



In 2005, the Mercury was finally sold to its third owner from new, along with a horde of original and new old stock parts that had been accumulated for a long-awaited restoration. That restoration was undertaken to correct standards between 2008 and 2009, with great care taken to use only authentic trim. The car was totally disassembled and stripped, with the bodywork lead-finished, primered with epoxy, and painted with custom Sikkens Autcryl green metallic paint, replicating a hand-rubbed, multi-coat lacquer finish. The original Carson top was recreated by Paul Reichling of Cedardale Upholstery, and the two-tone interior, with its 1940 Buick steering wheel, was restored by Guy’s Interior Restorations of Portland.



The car boasts numerous 1940s custom touches, including the 1937 DeSoto “ripple” bumpers, which were so widely used on period street rods that they are almost impossible to still find on a 1937 DeSoto today, as well as 1941 Studebaker taillights, teardrop skirts, and “flipper” hubcaps. Dual Appleton spotlights were a “must-have” back in the day.



Under the hood is a correct 1940 flathead V-8 that had been bored and stroked to 276 cubic inches, running a hot Isky three-quarter cam and sporting a Weiand dual-carburetor set-up and modified Lincoln-Zephyr V-12 dual-coil ignition. The engine breathes through dual exhausts and exits in an unusual fashion above the rear bumper. As every hot-rodder worth his salt did, the owner had the transmission fitted with Lincoln-Zephyr gears, which ran to a Zephyr two-speed rear axle. The frame was “C’d” above the rear axle, and a Zephyr hypoid differential moves the car lower without necessitating modifications to the driveshaft tunnel. All of this means that the car will cruise comfortably down the highway at proper modern road speeds, and it will also come nicely to a stop, thanks to Zephyr hydraulic brakes.



Since its restoration, the Marr/Huth Mercury has been displayed at the 2009 Sacramento Autorama as part of a special display honoring 70 years of Mercury customs, of which this is arguably the progenitor. It has covered only 40 miles in its current ownership, and it has been freshly serviced and tuned with new fluids and a battery. All switches and lights work, and it drives beautifully. Its restored condition is still excellent in all regards.



This Mercury is work of art and one of the earliest, most important “lead sleds.” It is a must-have for any custom collection.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more