After winning an Indy 500 race, Buddy Rice was offered any car he wanted by his sponsors. This my friend is that car!
Words by Tony Matthews
Photography by Fesler Built
I’ve heard that saying so many times before when having conversations with my friends…’If your could have any car ,what would you have? This to most is one tough question and for others it truly is an easy one. So if you could have any car today, what would you go for? For me, it would have to be a Porsche 964, with some fresh new style wheels, a nice chassis drop, a fresh interior retrim and a subtle audio system built for quality sound.
For the majority of us, it would be a rare thing for someone to say to you that they would buy you any car you wanted, but for Buddy Rice who is the owner of this incredible 1949 Mercury Coupe, this is exactly what happened. However, there is more to this than just a handout, as Buddy had a dream to become a racing driver and so after years of hardwork, he earned this stunning Mercury Coupe.
So who is Buddy Rice then? Well, he is a highly respected Indy 500 racing driver who has been into racing since high school with the support from his father. Buddy’s grandfather was very much into racing and passed his interest on to his father, who then pursued drag racing and so naturally Buddy went into racing gokarts from the age of 11. Buddy’s professional racing career began in 1196, where he drove in the F2000 event and also in the Dodge Shelby Pro Series.
Over his years of racing, Buddy won several races with the most memorable being his 2004 Indy 500 win, which also placed him in overall 3rd place in the Championship, earning five poles, three wins and leading 342 laps. For Buddy, this was truly an achievement and showed him that all that hardwork, patience, persistence and belief in himself paid off. So like anyone who achieves greatest in their life passion, Buddy was on cloud nine and that was taken to another level when his sponsors said the following to him…’Tell us what car you want and we will buy it for you! Wow! What an offer!
If you were presented with that, what would you ask for? A Lamborghini? Ferrari perhaps? For Buddy there was only one car and one that is super unique, classy and downright sexy. It was this 1949 Mercury Coupe that you see right here. However, it didn’t look exactly like this when his sponsors bought it for him. The car looked all original inside and outside and the first thing Buddy did, was take the car to Pioneer Audio to have an audio system fitted, as he has a huge love for music.
Thing is after a while, his thoughts were to have his Mercury to standout from the crowd and after coming across the guys at Fesler Built, he decided to hand them the keys and go for a total makeover. Now normally, Fesler Built wouldn’t take on a project that had already some form of customisation done to it, but they agreed as they could see the vision of what Buddy was looking for and were up for the challenge. So in the first week of acquiring the Mercury, the Fesler team spent time carefully stripping out the interior and audio system, ready take the car completely apart.
First up was to send the engine away for a full rebuild and makeover with brand new parts such as a Weinad871 Supercharger. Whilst the engine was away, the body work got stripped down with shaving everything on the car to give it that eye-popping smooth look. The drip rails were shaved, side skirts welded in and a custom rear bumper/roll pan all smoothed out with a full one piece weld up front end with frenched headlights and a custom front welding in bumper and buick grille. A new Mustang II front end was added to the car with a full Air Ride Technologies Air System, a set of Feslers own wheels wrapped with G-Force tyres were added and when it came to the interior a custom dash was created with new Bonspeed gauges and vintage air vents.
When it came to the colour it had to be different and so Buddy opted for a BASF black with a flating agent to protect it. The result, is outstanding! It gives the Mercury that hard attitude, whilst keeping those classic lines. Once all the important customisation was done, Fesler then had only one week to put the entire car together as it needed to be ready for its unveiling at the Fontana Indy Race. Like any project that is being built for an event, this one was complete at 2am the day before the unveiling! That’s dedication and respect to Buddy’s vision with the car and Fesler did an incredible job! What you can take away from this superb creation, is that if you are willing to work towards your passion and vision with relentless and persistent action, the rewards can be outstanding! Just think how cool it would be to have been Buddy when that question was asked…
Specifications Vehicle: Feslerbuilt 1949 Mercury Coupe ‘Ledsled’
Engine: Buick Nailhead was used with a 871 supercharger, ARP Rod bolts, head studs, main stud kit, Cloyes timing chain set Felpro gasket set, Total Seal hellfire piston rings, BU401 Performance Cam, Eagle connection rods, Magnaflow fesler built exhaust with headers.
Transmission: Hughes transmission.
Chassis: Full Air Ride Tech air suspenion, Mustang II custom built Front clip,Custom Sway bar,Air ride Tech tanks,lines and fittings.
Wheels & Tires: 20×9-inch Fesler FS-905 wheels with BF Goodrich G-Force 285/30ZR20
Interior: Black Leather tea Seats, Full Black interior,with leather,custom console full Pioneer stereo system.