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Phildaupho

Hirohata 1951 Mercury

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The Hirohata 1951 Mercury may be the most famous and iconic custom car of all time Before its restoration had been completed, I saw this car in person in 1996 at the outstanding Hot Rods and Customs display at The Oakland Museum of California.  Sometime after that I was able to purchase a Hirohata Merc resin kit from a guy who was getting out of the model car hobby. Almost everything needed to build this model came in a Rubbermaid container including two cans of custom mixed paint.

The box art is very impressive and appears to be from an outfit by the name of T&T. Although I could not track down details on this kit specifically, I did find reference to T&T Productions. Other offerings T&T offered are listed on the box.

The kit seems to include all the parts required to build a model of the Hirohata Merc although the original owner decided to use modified suspension parts and dual exhaust from the AMT ’49 Mercury.

2v2Hjecq5ximYT.jpg2v2HjecNMximYT.jpg2v2HjeAr9ximYT.jpg

The kit as I got it included

- No instructions what so ever

- The body which is very thick resin captures most if not all the characteristics of the Hirohata Merc although I think the top looks too severely chopped

- Complete interior molded from AMT Merc so has a 49 dash

- Chassis molded from AMT Merc

- Maybe some decals of Barris crests and license plates

- Vacuum formed windshield and rear window

- Spot lights

- Chromed resin front bumper molded from AMT ’49 Merc

- Chromed resin rear bumper modified and molded from AMT ’49 Merc to fit rear fenders

- Chromed resin grill molded from AMT ’49 Merc

- Resin headlights, taillights and parking kits

- Two Cadillac Sombrero hubcaps with clear red emblems

- Wide white wall tires from various sources

- Resin figure of George Barris with his distinctive windbreaker but the head and face does not resemble George – no baseball hat or sunglasses

 I have probably resisted building this model for so long because I was not happy with the chop which would be a daunting task to fully correct. I am now planning to build it once I complete the Sam Barris 49 Merc and currently thinking of raising the windshield a bit into the roof and using the Revell chassis and interior.

 There is a Jimmy Flintstone Hirohata resin body but it does not include side window details and I am not sure if it comes with anything other than the body

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Maybe the figure is supposed to be Sam Barris. 

IIRC, George just did the promotion and paperwork for the shop at that time, I may be mistaken though.  Sam was the one with all the talent, George IMHO, wasn't talented enough to light his brother's torches.

Anyway, looks like a really good piece of resin. 

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Additional info regarding T&T Productions here:

 

I want to say at least one other company/person offered the Hirohata Merc body in resin...

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FWIW there also was a Danbury Mint diecast, listed as 1:24 scale.

 

 

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Agree that the figure might more accurately represent Sam, as what I've read says Sam's work on his own Merc is what inspired Hirohata to commission Sam (or Barris shop?) to do a Merc for him.

The more I read about George, the less I like him.?

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Hi, Phil:

Replicas & Miniatures Company of Maryland produced a 1/25 '50/51 Mercury dashboard for the AMT '49 Merc kit in 10-pieces. (Item no. RH-301)

At least they did at one time. You can email Norm of R&MCM at replmincomd@aol.com to see if he still supplies it.

100_3006-vi.jpg

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2 hours ago, bisc63 said:

The more I read about George, the less I like him.?

I agree with you on that, he took credit for many things he did not do, and Sam was the better builder.

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15 hours ago, Can-Con said:

Maybe the figure is supposed to be Sam Barris. 

IIRC, George just did the promotion and paperwork for the shop at that time, I may be mistaken though.  Sam was the one with all the talent, George IMHO, wasn't talented enough to light his brother's torches.

Anyway, looks like a really good piece of resin. 

The figure does look more like Sam. Here he is with his Merc

2v2HjQir8ximYT.jpg

9 hours ago, blizzy63 said:

Hi, Phil:

Replicas & Miniatures Company of Maryland produced a 1/25 '50/51 Mercury dashboard for the AMT '49 Merc kit in 10-pieces. (Item no. RH-301)

At least they did at one time. You can email Norm of R&MCM at replmincomd@aol.com to see if he still supplies it.

100_3006-vi.jpg

Thanks Robert = I am going to check that out. I love Norm's products and have got a number of pieces that were mastered by Ric Hoving the custom car master historian

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You've never spent an afternoon in the late 1990's - (1998-1999) with him. Friend of mine was a writer for one of the 'Kar Kulture' type magazines back then. He got an assignment and tickets for a small car show down in the SoCal area. Barris was there to judge both the 1-1 and model car model contests. I got invited to tag along. It was a great little show, and I got to meet a man I had heard of and read about since I was 12. 

Boy! What an Eye-Opener. He was nice enough to my friend and me, because were we there from a magazine, but to other people?  What a rude, crude guy. He had a potty mouth, and was very aware of his fame. He was, as they liked to say in the old days, "Handsy". The various Pretty Young Things that are a fixture at SoCal Car shows and in 'Kar Kulture' magazines, stayed as far as they could away from him. Oh, they posed for the photos, but then backed away quickly.  I am surprised that he got away with as much as he did.

But, he was friendly (mostly) with his fans,(in private-between bursts of the crowd, when no one could hear him, what a different story) and was obviously good friends with some of the 1-1 car builders who were there. And, his interest in judging the model car contest was entirely genuine. He really lit up when looking at the builds, and had good things to say about many of them. 

In short, what I saw that day, (and later at the March Meets where I met him again), was a complicated man who had both good and bad sides. Custom Cars would be a totally different thing without him.

Edited by alexis

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14 hours ago, Casey said:

Additional info regarding T&T Productions here:

 

I want to say at least one other company/person offered the Hirohata Merc body in resin...

Thanks Casey - Very interesting thread especially as I plan to build an Ala Kart after the Hirohata although it will be my version using the newer kit, Fred Cady decals and a larger engine.

Other T&T products listed on the Hirohata box are Munster Coach 1/16, Munster Dracula 1/16, Grease Lighting [sic] 1/25, Thundercharger 1/25, Black Beauty 1/25, Fireball 500 1/25, The Car 1/25

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24 minutes ago, alexis said:

You've never spent an afternoon in the late 1990's - (1998-1999) with him. Friend of mine was a writer for one of the 'Kar Kulture' type magazines back then. He got an assignment and tickets for a small car show down in the SoCal area. Barris was there to judge both the 1-1 and model car model contests. I got invited to tag along. It was a great little show, and I got to meet a man I had heard of and read about since I was 12. 

Boy! What an Eye-Opener. He was nice enough to my friend and me, because were we there from a magazine, but to other people?  What a rude, crude guy. He had a potty mouth, and was very aware of his fame. He was, as they liked to say in the old days, "Handsy". The various Pretty Young Things that are a fixture at SoCal Car shows and in 'Kar Kulture' magazines, stayed as far as they could away from him. Oh, they posed for the photos, but then backed away quickly.  I am surprised that he got away with as much as he did.

But, he was friendly (mostly) with his fans,(in private-between bursts of the crowd, when no one could hear him, what a different story) and was obviously good friends with some of the 1-1 car builders who were there. And, his interest in judging the model car contest was entirely genuine. He really lit up when looking at the builds, and had good things to say about many of them. 

In short, what I saw that day, (and later at the March Meets where I met him again), was a complicated man who had both good and bad sides. Custom Cars would be a totally different thing without him.

Thanks for writing that Alan. Well said. I have always had mixed feelings about Barris since reading the Rod & Custom interviews with him and Roth. I only saw him once at the 1997 Grand National Roadster Show and that was kind of a thrill as I knew he would be also judging the model car show. You are very correct when you say Custom Cars would be a totally different thing without him.

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I saw him together with John D'Agostino and Bo Huff at the Bo Huff Rockabilly Extravaganza show in Riverside CA back in 2012, now both Barris and Huff are gone.

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George was a great promoter and knew great talent to hire when he saw it. Unfortunately as years went on and more things came out about him it really changed my opinion of him. The late Dean Jeffries had much to say concerning 'ol George since he took credit for numerous cars Dean built. One only has to look at the Ertl AMT release of the Monkey Mobile that Jeffries built, yet the kit was promoted as a Barris custom. 

Cruise through the H.A.M.B. message board if you're interested, lots of posts about George and his antics. It's too bad really, since many automatically think he was the alpha and omega of custom cars, don't realize Sam was the real talent and so many other customizers from the day were overlooked due to his constant need to take credit for everything.

I wonder how many people know that Tom Daniels was the actual designer of the Munster's Mobile? Barris took credit for all of that one too but Tom set the record straight on that one some time ago. At least Ed Roth in numerous books and articles credited the many people (designers and fabricators) whom without their talents would have not made many of his creations possible.

Edited by Phirewriter

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4 hours ago, alexis said:

You've never spent an afternoon in the late 1990's - (1998-1999) with him. Friend of mine was a writer for one of the 'Kar Kulture' type magazines back then. He got an assignment and tickets for a small car show down in the SoCal area. Barris was there to judge both the 1-1 and model car model contests. I got invited to tag along. It was a great little show, and I got to meet a man I had heard of and read about since I was 12. 

Boy! What an Eye-Opener. He was nice enough to my friend and me, because were we there from a magazine, but to other people?  What a rude, crude guy. He had a potty mouth, and was very aware of his fame. He was, as they liked to say in the old days, "Handsy". The various Pretty Young Things that are a fixture at SoCal Car shows and in 'Kar Kulture' magazines, stayed as far as they could away from him. Oh, they posed for the photos, but then backed away quickly.  I am surprised that he got away with as much as he did.

But, he was friendly (mostly) with his fans,(in private-between bursts of the crowd, when no one could hear him, what a different story) and was obviously good friends with some of the 1-1 car builders who were there. And, his interest in judging the model car contest was entirely genuine. He really lit up when looking at the builds, and had good things to say about many of them. 

In short, what I saw that day, (and later at the March Meets where I met him again), was a complicated man who had both good and bad sides. Custom Cars would be a totally different thing without him.

Alan, very well written and balanced story about Geo. I've heard both sides of the coin, but I never knew the man so I couldn't say who he really was.

Personally, I disliked his narcissistic self-promotion and how he'd buy old customs, clean them up and then take credit for building them.

However, I have to give him credit for being a photographer and historically documenting so many Kustom Kars that would have been lost to the sands of time. He also knew how to hire talented builders that went on to create great and lasting work.

He definitely knew how to promote the culture!

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I just came across this 5x8 inch 1962 little pages magazine in my attic. It was published by George Barris Enterprises and promoted AMT. Surprisingly there is a photo inside of the actual Ala Kart captioned Famous "Big Daddy" Hot Rod. There is also coverage of AMT's Mid-America Car Championship Finals that featured some very impressive model cars.

 2v2HjpUZyximYT.jpg

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Phidaupho, sorry to skew things a bit off topic, so back to the point...will you be unchopping that top a bit; agree it looks just a little too low.

Edited by bisc63
typo

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9 minutes ago, bisc63 said:

Phidaupho, sorry to skew things a bit off topic, so back to the point...will you be unchooping that top a bit; agree it looks just a little too low.

I am not up to unchopping a resin body but I do plan to enlarge the windshield area to about the size of a Revell Merc which I am hoping will make it look more like the original.

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On 1/23/2021 at 11:09 AM, Phildaupho said:

Thanks Casey - Very interesting thread especially as I plan to build an Ala Kart after the Hirohata although it will be my version using the newer kit, Fred Cady decals and a larger engine.

Other T&T products listed on the Hirohata box are Munster Coach 1/16, Munster Dracula 1/16, Grease Lighting [sic] 1/25, Thundercharger 1/25, Black Beauty 1/25, Fireball 500 1/25, The Car 1/25

Other than the chassis and suspension, there is very little of the new tool kit that is as accurate as the original kit. It's too squarish. Here is a short history and a comparo I wrote about 9 years ago for Bonediggers. 

http://www.bonediggers.com/2-3/alakart/alakart.html

 

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On 1/22/2021 at 5:39 PM, Phildaupho said:

*edit* T&T Production's kit below:

2v2HjecNMximYT.jpg

And for comparison/reference the currently available(?) RMR (Resin Model Ranch) "1949 Mercury Led-Sled", which appears to be the body only:

PMRHirohateMercBody1242021.jpg.676553cc5fa54afe769db4da1f8d8db6.jpg

 

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23 minutes ago, Casey said:

And for comparison/reference the currently available(?) RMR (Resin Model Ranch) "1949 Mercury Led-Sled", which appears to be the body only:

The windshield area looks larger and much better. The back side window appears to be longer but hard to tell at that angle.

I am planning to heighten the windshield area on my T&T version

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1 hour ago, Dave Darby said:

Other than the chassis and suspension, there is very little of the new tool kit that is as accurate as the original kit. It's too squarish. Here is a short history and a comparo I wrote about 9 years ago for Bonediggers. 

http://www.bonediggers.com/2-3/alakart/alakart.html

 

Thanks Dave - I have read a lot about the two versions of the Ala Kart. Ace-garage guy did a two part comparison. I will re-read everything I have on the models and the real Ala-Kart  before I start construction. I do not have an original kit but  do have the parts that have been included in the '29 Roadster kit. My Ala Kart will likely be a tribute rather than a replica  - sort of like the full scale Ala Kart recreation that was built in the late 1990's. I saw that Ala Kart at the 1999 Grand National Roadster Show. There was a replica of the Kookie Car there as well. Both looked great and I enjoyed seeing them as the real ones had not been restored yet.

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I think I read somewhere, that Sam Barris was the first to chop a Mercury, having ordered one brand new, early on before they were in the dealerships, and chopping/customizing it. You guys can correct me if I'm wrong on that ( as I'm sure someone will, the internet being what it is). Anyway, I read that was the claim to fame, but I also read that it was all Sam, HE was the metalman, brother George was the promoter type. It appears to me that it was after Sam's passing, and into the sixties, when George hooked up with Hollywood, that George's "K"ustoms became noticeable. I did like the Drag-U-La, not so much the Munster Koach. Jeffries Monkeemobile was cool too, and of course, Ed Roth's wild builds.

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