Featured: Modern Tesla Power Hides Underneath The Patina Of ICON's 1949 Mercury Coupe

Modern Tesla Power Hides Underneath The Patina Of ICON’s 1949 Mercury Coupe

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
October 31, 2018
10 comments

Images courtesy of ICON

We’ve been following the work of Jonathan Ward and his ICON brand for a while now, and the LA-based shop’s latest build is one of the most inspired to date.

ICON’s track record of restomodding vintage 4x4s—FJs, Defenders, the usual suspects—dovetailed nicely into a separate line of one-off builds centered on the idea of mixing a gracefully aged exterior with more modern or otherwise potent powertrains; bodies with patina, engines that you can cook and eat an egg on. That’s the basic idea of the company’s so-called “Derelict” builds, and the odd-dozen of projects completed under the banner thus far have relied on the same general formula of putting gregariously powerful American pushrods in big brash American shapes drawn in the middle of the 20th century. The motors are either brand new or built to today’s standards with modern components and techniques, but the bodies retain their marks of lives lived long.

They will take any body from any marque and put whatever you want under the hood regardless of piston count. It can even go down to none at all, as is the case with this 1949 Mercury Coupe. Lift the lead sled’s stately hood and you’ll see something that resembles a standard V8 shape until you notice that rather than valve covers and manifolds staring up at you from the spacious bay, it’s a pile of neatly arranged controllers and modules. Power and torque figures are 400hp and 470lb-ft thanks to a dual-electric motor running on a Tesla Performance 85kWh battery setup.

The concept of converting to electric isn’t a new one (this isn’t even ICON’s first go at it), but it’s unique for the same reasons behind everyone knowing who Steve Jobs is; it’s well-designed, packaged beautifully, and it’s simple to use. For instance, there are two means of charging it (range is estimated between 150-200 miles); one is a 125A fast-charge port stashed behind the rear license plate, the other a clever conversion of the original fuel-fill into a socket that accepts the typical Tesla chargers that you’d find at the gas station. The conversion was done in collaboration with Stealth EV, and the name fits the service. There aren’t stickers plastered on the bodywork to call attention to its whispering drivetrain, and you could park it at any lowrider show with none the wiser should you keep the hood shut.

The work on builds like this one begins in full once the body has been taken off of the chassis, which undergoes a process of reengineering to varying degrees depending on the project and its source of power, and while the patina is preserved on the removed shell (rather than faked with paint and solvents, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself) the whole car doesn’t come back together in the same way it came apart. On this build that means the interior has been reupholstered according to Ward’s aesthetics of period-correct looks that integrate modern amenities like air-conditioning, navigation aids, high-end audio setups, power windows, the works, if you want them.

We’re all about creations like this that merge two eras without one overpowering the other, but what do you think? Is the aged appearance dishonest to the batteries that undermine the original purpose of big cruiser coupes and other land yachts built in a time when a gallon of gas was measured in cents?

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dave wakamanTed ShannonSergio LavermicoccaBryan DickersonJeremy DeConcini Recent comment authors
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dave wakaman
dave wakaman

I’m agreeing with Jeremy here. The car looks great and long term the innards of our classics are going to have to change to keep them on the road. Fuel for thought!

Ted Shannon
Ted Shannon

Saw the pix of this rodney on Bangshift the other day and was blown away just by the look. Don’t do the envy thing but jeez it’d be nice to have the dosh to get a ride like this built. Nicely done, and great photos.

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini

This is outstanding. The perfect way to keep cool cars on the road as the world shifts away from fossil fuels. I support this 100%.

Harv Falkenstine
Harv Falkenstine

I enjoy the sound of combustion just as much as any car guy, but this is a great creation. The true spirit of Hot Rodding is to build unique cars and ICON continues to be the trend setter instead of follower. Years from now when we have wrecked Teslas and no V8s in salvage yards, we can say”remember when ICON built that “Merc”. How about a Factory Five “33 with Tesla power?

Sergio Lavermicocca
Sergio Lavermicocca

I can understand electric cars for the masses as long as they self charge or recharge from a nuclear/wind/wave/solar power plant grid………but an electric car for your weekend cruiser? This brain numbing stuff

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Sergio
Maybe it’s “emotion” numbing for some people but I don’t think you can accurately call it “brain” numbing. It’s actually quite intellectually stimulating!

Sergio Lavermicocca
Sergio Lavermicocca

Yeah, maybe I’m just a dumb arse 🙁

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

I think this is great! Just what I was talking about in the comments about the “SEMA” article from a few days ago. As far as the idea that the batteries “undermine” the original purpose of this car-the original purpose wasn’t to burn gas, it was to travel in style and comfort. I’d say this cruiser does that far better than ever. We can either resist electric power or embrace it and help make it fun.
Observation/question: Do those rear wheels have a little camber, as in IRS?

Sergio Lavermicocca
Sergio Lavermicocca

Is it possible to get a video of what it sounds like………must be awesome, NOT!!!

Brian E Parker
Brian E Parker

Ever see Gattica? All those great vintage cars with smooth whirring reliable electric motors – I think it’s a great future to look forward to!