BLAST FROM THE PAST: MERCER COBRA ROADSTER
A Cobra with a touch of class
Chances are that the name Mercer doesn't ring a bell to some people, especially younger generations. This was an American company that was making cars before WWII, being famous for the Mercer 35 Raceabout. The Raceabout was produced back in 1910 and was one of the best sports cars of that decade, with a top speed of 144 km/h (90 mph). That was quite impressive back then.
1910 Mercer Raceabout. Credit: Revivaler
But in the early 1960s, Esquire magazine writer, Diana Bartley got in touch with the famous car designer Virgil Exner asking him to present ideas for some modern designs of classic cars. Exner made 4 designs, all featured in the Esquire magazine, and one of them was a white Mercer (a modern version of the Raceabout).
Credit: Old Concept Cars
The car was so well received that Copper Development Association and Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano decided to actually make the car. The most remarkable thing is that it was built on the chassis of a Shelby Cobra. And not only did Shelby gave the chassis, they also gave their 4.7-liter V8 engine and 4-speed manual gearbox.
Shelby's V8. Imagine the sound. Credit: Old Concept Cars
With the most important parts out of the way, people started working on the body. So, Exner came up with an incredible styling providing different alloys, materials and finishes for both interior and exterior. He wanted to demonstrate the diversity of copper and brass.
The Mercer Cobra comes with a long hood and a pushed-back interior for sportier looks. Other notable things are long fender blades, shortened rear fenders with separate mudguards and a long sharp rear deck.
Credit: Old Concept Cars
The front is dominated by that huge grille with eight huge mesh stone-guards. Other interesting features are the headlights, which are retractable. They can hide behind the grille when the driver doesn’t need them. The exterior is just an ode to style, with Pearl White color, full-width Plexiglas windshield and details made in brass that just scream 'elegance'.
You can see that nothing was spared on this car in terms of detailing; not even the interior. The black leather spreads across the seats and door panels, while the dashboard is made out of copper. Even the steering wheel spokes are made out of a strong chromium-copper alloy.
Copper. Copper everywhere. Credit: Old Concept Cars
The car had quite a few owners, which is surprising. Usually when someone buys a nice one-off, they tend to keep it as long as they can. But, that wasn’t the case here. The first owner was a concept-car collector Joe Bortz. Later owners were also avid collectors such as Jim Southard, Al Wright and Tom Barrett.
In 1989, Mercer Cobra found its home in the Lyons Family. It has been there for over 20 years, until it was ready to seek for a new home. In 2011, the Mercer Cobra Roadster was sold at an auction for $660.000.