Mercury Sportsman Convertible

The 1945-48 period was a heady time in American automobile history. Automakers were struggling to fill pent-up demand for new cars while battling materials shortages and fending off labor disputes. At the same time, however, a few new prestige models were developed to accompany the bread-and-butter cars, which were barely changed from the 1942 models. Heading these prestige cars was a bevy of wood-bodied sedans, wagons and convertibles.

Chrysler Corporation had introduced a novel barrel-back Town & Country sedan-wagon before the war, produced as a Royal in 1941 and Windsor in 1942. A flight of five woodie styles was planned for 1946, but in the end only a Windsor sedan and New Yorker convertible were put on sale. Nash, meanwhile, put wood appliqué on an Ambassador sedan and sold it as the Suburban from 1946 to ’48, while Chevrolet offered a dealer-installed Country Club wood kit for 1946-48 models. At first glance it might appear that the Ford and Mercury Sportsman convertibles were conceived in envy of the Chrysler Town & Country, but the truth is not so simple.

Because the wood framing was necessarily larger than equivalent steel, the back end ended up a bit bulkier, and convertible fenders wouldn’t work. Instead, rear fenders and taillights from the 1941 sedan delivery were used. Sportsman seats were upholstered in genuine leather facings in tan or red, with French stitching. The front floor mats had color-keyed carpet inserts, and power windows were standard. Announced in September, the first Sportsman was completed in December 1945 and presented to actress Ella Raines at Christmas.

The Sportsman became part of the Ford Super Deluxe line; at $1,982 it was about $500 more than a standard convertible. Mercury, too, got a Sportsman, in April 1946, selling for $2,209, about the same margin over a regular Mercury convertible.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

100 bhp, 239.4 cu. in. L-head V8 engine, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia two-speed rear end., solid front axle and live rear axle with transverse semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Internal modification by way of four-inch Mercury crankshaft and later Mercury cam give additional horsepower but retain factory appearance for judging. Wheelbase: 118".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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