JANUARY 15, 2022 – The Hirohata Mercury sold for a hammer price of $1.95 Million Dollars at the Mecum auction! It remains the highest price paid for any kustom car, and we were excited to see it happen.


When it comes to kustom cars, the 1951 Mercury built by George and Sam Barris for Bob Hirohata is about as legendary is it gets. The car innovated kustom design elements, and remains true to form today, even through an extensive restoration. Oh yeah, it also looks awesome! It’s long, low, chopped, clean, with Buick side trim, tuck & roll interior, Caddy Sombrero hubcaps, and a real Von Dutch stripe on the dash, and it’s boss. And now, it can be yours!

The spring, 2022 Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, Florida is where this amazing ride will change hands to the highest bidder.


  • The Hirohata Mercury, arguably the most famous custom car of the classic era
  • Named for the car’s original owner, Bob Hirohata of Los Angeles, California
  • Iconic custom car built by Sam and George Barris
  • Featured in Hot Rod Magazine in March 1953
  • Cover car for Hop Up magazine in March 1953
  • Class Winner at the 1952 Petersen Motorama
  • Featured in Rod & Custom in October 1953
  • Appeared in the film “Running Wild” in 1955 starring Mamie Van Doren
  • In the care of the McNiel family since 1959, when Jim McNiel purchased the car for $500 at the age of 16
  • Restoration completed in 1996 to exact 1952 Motorama specifications
  • Restoration detailed by Pat Ganahl in several issues of Rod & Custom magazine
  • Colors matched using spectrography and new paint was applied by Junior’s House of Color using PPG materials
  • Displayed at the “Hot Rods and Customs (The Men and Machines of California’s Car Culture)” exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California upon completion
  • Restored again by the original builders, including Herschel “Junior” Conway and Frank Sonzogni, in 2015 for Pebble Beach
  • First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2015
  • Added to the National Historical Vehicle Register in 2017 and displayed on the national mall in Washington, DC
  • Previously displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum
  • 1953 Cadillac 331 CI OHV V-8 engine with three Stromberg carburetors
  • The B-pillars were removed and the roof was reshaped to create a hardtop
  • V-butted windshield
  • Top chopped 4 inches in the front and 7 inches in the rear
  • Front fenders extended 4 inches, incorporating frenched 1952 Ford headlights
  • Rear fenders extended and fitted with frenched 1952 Lincoln Capri tail lights
  • Trunk corners were rounded
  • Hood was filled, peaked and extended into the grille
  • Custom grille made from three 1952 Ford grilles
  • Factory dips on the doors were filled and the surrounding sheet metal was reshaped to flow with 1952 Buick Riviera trim spears
  • Functional brake cooling scoops on rear panels
  • Flush fit, flared fender skirts
  • Chopped front coils in front and the frame was kicked up in the rear
  • Springs were de-arched using two sets of 1.5-inch lowering blocks
  • Finished in two-tone Seafoam Green and Organic Green
  • Pinstriping originally applied by Von Dutch
  • Custom upholstery by The Carson Top Shop
  • Trunk upholstered by Gaylord’s Kustom Shop
  • 1953 Cadillac “Sombrero” wheel covers
  • Twin Appleton S-552 spotlights

Head over to https://www.mecum.com/lots/FL0122-487726/1951-bob-hirohata-mercury-custom/ to see more, and for your chance to register to bid on a true kustom legend. And if you win, please take us for a spin!

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