Spend enough time in the automotive community and you start to associate certain cars with certain clichés, lifestyles, jokes, or subcultures. Think ‘63 Impala reimagined as a low rider. A black Dodge Charger, or the patina on an old pickup. An ‘80s Volvo 240 with a PETA bumper sticker. A pinstriped flame job decorating the sides of a 1932 Model A. Or, think kustom ‘49 Mercury coupe with a roof chopped so low you’d think it was a modern Camaro.
Customized Mercury coupes are ionic, with several examples (most often in film) permanently affixed to pop culture. With that as context, the master builders at Icon Customs recently built a modern take on a 1949 Mercury coupe, converting it into an electric vehicle powered by a 400HP Tesla motor/battery combo. It’s Elon Musk doing the trick-or-treat thing as Jimmy Dean.
Icon Customs is a niche company with a mainstream appeal in building fantasy-inducing vehicles. They build six-figure resto-mods that add new fire to old steel. Welding – both literally and figuratively – the designs of the past with the turn-key reliability of the present.
Icon built an EV Mercury coupe for a client whose identity wasn’t disclosed (for good reason). He/she wanted a classic patina-covered lead sled with the instant torque of a Model S P100D. The results are beautiful. It looks like a weather-worn classic with an original interior; you wouldn’t know it was electric until it started rolling with its engine on mute. The Mercury has upgraded brakes and suspension to cope with the added power. Icon said that the Merc could have a range somewhere from 150-200 miles – in short, enough for a Sunday drive. And the Merc comes equipped with two charging plugs: one located under the front license plate, and another inside the now-obsolete gas cap.
A Merc with a Tesla mill. Cool? Most definitely. But will it become a trend in resto-modding? I hope not.
The main turn-off with EV’s is the lack of drama. There’s no romance with electric vehicles. They are the adult toys of the automotive world, but no matter how advanced they may be, they can never substitute for good old-fashioned, no-longer-that-dirty oil burners. Instant torque is a unique experience, but it will never be on the same emotional curve as hearing an engine screaming at high revs, making both the car and your heart race. Listening to the idle waiting for the light to turn green. Speed without noise is food without smell, bourbon with no burn.
Battery-powered vehicles won’t be the savior many wish they will be; like oil, they carry their own set of ethical, political, and environmental problems. A step in the right direction, but nowhere near the finish line…yet. The 1949 Mercury coupe will always be kool, and definitely beats staring at a Tesla Model 3 at a charging station.