This Mercury Coupe Is The Electric Sleeper Of Our Dreams


Still crazy ’bout it.

Amid myriad displays of chromed-out custom cars filling the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center where the 2018 edition of SEMA is currently taking place, sits a 1949 Mercury coupe that looks like it would be more at home sitting up on blocks in a scruffy neighborhood. No, it isn’t lost. It is, rather, a master class in automotive deception; a sleeper that would startle any and all comers at the traffic light Gran Prix; an electric vehicle that looks like anything but. Behold the latest and greatest entry into the Derelict collection produced by ICON and their electrification partners, Stealth EV.

Beneath the exterior of the naturally oxidized patina of the antique bodywork hides a beast of high-voltage proportions. Lift that long hood, and instead of the expected V8, you’ll find a set of blindingly bright chromed controllers — one for each of the twinned AM Racing induction motors lurking low in the transmission tunnel — set up in the traditional V-shape of an eight-cylinder engine. Bolted to a custom Art Morrison frame, the drivetrain can summon 400 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque while supping, as it does, from an 85 kWh Tesla-sourced battery.

To recharge, the car is equipped with a CHAdeMO connector hiding behind the front license plate. Under the gas cap, you’ll find a Tesla connector for what we assume is for AC charging. Once full of electrons, it is said to be able to get you 150 to 200 miles down the road.

Faithful InsideEVs readers may remember this car from the time we featured it as it was being put together. Back then, just the raw potential made us crazy ’bout this Mercury. Now, with the finishing touches in place, we’re straitjacket nuts about it. The seats, though similar to period correct, are freshly upholstered in high-end material. Most, if not all of the handles, switches, bezels are custom pieces. If the devil is in the details, it’s like we died and went to hell: one warmed by the roasting of tires instead of brimstone.

Official presser and photos follow.


Jonathan Ward Continues To Infuse Vintage Styling With State-Of-The-Art Technology

CHATSWORTH, CA As with all ICON projects, the latest one is all about pushing the limits and challenging the status quo. When approaching a 1949 Mercury Coupe Derelict project, ICON co-founder/lead designer Jonathan Ward asked, “Why are all production EV vehicles devoid of heart and soul? Why is the aftermarket EV-conversion industry so slow to evolve and provide comprehensive systems and solutions? Why can’t you have the best of both worlds: the style and quality of a vintage vehicle with modern performance and functionality? We say you can have your cake and eat it too!”

As background, the purpose behind ICON’s Derelict line is to celebrate and preserve the original patina and exterior trim on the car. This 1949 Mercury Coupe was sourced from the original owners, and it has been in Southern California since new. ICON forensically disassembled the body, replaced all rubber, added insulation and sound-deadening products everywhere, then reassembled it in a manner that tried to make it look like nothing had been touched. A robust 4-wheel-independent chassis was developed with Art Morrison Enterprises alongside Brembo brakes.

The powertrain is all-modern and was a co-engineering exercise between ICON and Stealth EV. The dual electric motor, transmission-less design provides 470 lb-ft of freight-train torque and the equivalent of 400 horsepower, with no shifts all the way up to the Merc’s 120 MPH top speed. A full Tesla Performance 85kWh battery array is strategically fit throughout the vehicle for exceptional weight balance. It is capable of an estimated 150- to 200-mile range and has 1.5-hour full recharge capability. ICON positioned a CHAdeMO 125A fast-charger plug behind the tilting front license plate frame and also converted the original gas filler into a Tesla supercharger plug to expedite in-transit charging. A pioneering EV management system protects the batteries from overcharging and also provides thermal management and a host of capabilities and protections.

ICON had a bit of fun with the engine bay. Since the electric motors fit where the old transmission once resided, Jonathan Ward thought it would be fun to reference vintage V-8 speed equipment. The custom aluminum “engine” actually houses the battery controllers and a few of the Tesla modules – designed in a traditional V-8 array with a polished and media-blasted finish for a decidedly vintage aesthetic. Then ICON had custom cloth-braided sheathing made for the wires under the hood, referencing the original wiring loom.

In the interior, ICON wanted to keep the materials vintage-appropriate and light. Fabric from Knoll Textiles and hides from Moore & Giles and Relicate Leather realized the exact design that Jonathan Ward envisioned. Power windows operate via the original analog window cranks; tapping twice on the driver’s side drops or raises all windows at once. While all gauges are modern digital Andromeda, the design strongly references the original analog units, down to the typeface and background. Other significantly redesigned elements include in-dash A/C vents (not to mention electric A/C), and all custom switches and bezels are inspired by the originals but support modern components and functions.

To ICON, the smallest details are never superfluous. The 1949 Mercury EV Derelict was commissioned by a longtime client, who gave ICON the go-ahead to push the boundaries of design and engineering. The result is what makes an ICON Derelict a piece of rolling sculpture. SEMA 2018 attendees can see the ICON 1949 Mercury EV Derelict in the Optima Battery booth #20323.

35 photos

Source: ICON

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34 Comments on "This Mercury Coupe Is The Electric Sleeper Of Our Dreams"

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This may be a big part of the future. Gotta be a way to make conversions relatively cheap.

Sure, just as soon as batteries are cheap.

In Back to the Future II, it was all about the hover conversions. I do not believe that this activity will ever be cheap, serviceable or warrantied. You’re buying a science/art project. There’s nothing wrong with that, but expect those batteries to be inferior, overpriced, and short-lived at present. They are all air-cooled, as it were, and this ol’ Hudson Hornet is a hot box in the warm sun.

Cheap? I do hope there will be a lot of affordable EV conversions happening in the future — but this isn’t it. Brand new custom frame, high-end motor, Tesla battery in a fancy custom housing, painstakingly restored interior… I bet this whole project cost more than any Tesla — likely including the upcoming new “Roadster”…

But then again, in some ways it’s way cooler than any Tesla 😉

This is a 6 figure conversion. Icon don’t do cheap. Their cars are rolling pieces of art with incredible craftsmanship. If you ever get to see one up close you’ll see some amazing attention to detail.

Of course I was referring to conversions in general, not this one.

Largely it depends on what you want….
3 aspects of conversions are range, performance, cost. You can pick 2 of those.
You can have long range and high performance, but it will cost a lot of money. You can have long range and low cost, but the performance will suffer. You can have high performance and low cost, but range will be lacking.
If you want all 3, you will need to wait until there are more motors available off-the-shelf for conversions AND you will need to wait until there are more battery options available off-the-shelf….

But, right now, if you want a high-quality, long-range, high-performance EV conversions, you will spend north of $45,000 to make that happen. That’s if you do most of the work yourself.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Range probably isn’t as big of a deal on EV conversions of classic and post war collector cars. For the most part, those kinds of cars tend to get trailered to shows and only driven on weekend outings.

The only time range might be an issue would be for those car clubs that do road trips together, in which case, the owner would probably end up wanting to spring for additional battery capacity for additional range.

For the time being, it looks like EV conversions of collector vehicles will probably be a hobby for the very wealthy (tech tycoons, etc.) My guess is that as the technology continues to mature and prices come down, it’ll become a hobby more accessible to the regular wealthy types, e.g. those making the salaries of lawyers, doctors, and dentists.

Man, that thing looks like an absolute blast. How fun would it be to take that thing to Hot August Nights in Reno?

Beautiful car, it would raise some emotions at a car show to be sure.

Looks horrible to me.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Someone doesn’t get it when it comes to Derelict restoration jobs.

Love the concept, but for god’s sake, give the poor girl a new coat of paint! Patina my ass! That’s just old fashioned rust, the arch enemy of all cars.

It’s just surface rust. But, I know appearances are subjective.
Anyway, ICON also does what they call “Reformers,” where they bodywork also gets redone. I don’t think they’ve done any electric Reformers yet.

They did a EV VW Thing last year

Yeah, that was my first reaction. There was a row of derelict cars sitting on my grandpa’s farm back in the day that looked as good (or bad) as that one. In fact, one of them may have been the exact same model; it looks quite familiar to me.

But if I was gonna drive it around, I’d sand off the rust and give it a new paint job! As is, it’s almost painful for me to look at… literally an eyesore!

It’s just a game for the foolish, like buying fashionable jeans that are already worn out, purposefully cut and torn to look old.

This article was published on Halloween, don’t you think the rust is intentional?

Hence the definition of “sleeper.”

“Smallest detail is important”.. HA! If that was so they’d wash the car, and then repaint it. It would be nice if these guys would show more respect for a Classic Car. There are good ways to electrify a classic, and this ain’t one of ’em. Of course, people can do what they want with their cars, but the repurposed old cars that show up at the Drive Electric events in Western NY are never like this. The typical restoration ends up being a SHARP Looking Car. And it is at a price many can afford. Horsepower output is as low as 8, with a typical 15 or 20 hp, or possibly 30 hp tops. The car can keep up on the highway, so the car is only powerful enough to be used as a daily driver. Every one of these articles assume 400 horsepower is the minimum necessary – but only the rich can afford what they’ve done here. They don’t mention the price but I bet its north of $100K. Meanwhile you never see an article of what many people in my area have done, and I’m sure it applies country wide: Make a practical EV with some… Read more »

Well, apparently you do not appreciate the charm of a car that actually looks ancient, rather than a full restoration that looks like someone put it in a time machine right of the factory floor… Some other people (including myself) on the other hand absolutely *love* this.

(Yes, it’s a vanity toy for the rich — but that’s frankly true of any vintage car…)

Yup I don’t, and looks like everyone in my part of the country agrees with me.

Many people won’t even drive a car that looks like a HEAP..

If they want to keep that car CLASSIC, they shouldn’t go overboard with modifying the original instruments. Things like the speedometer and odometer operated mechanically and there is no good reason to digitize that stuff. If they want to ‘fake’ digitize it since they don’t have the transmission connection any longer, they can have an electric motor spin the speedometer cable to keep its speed reading accurate.

Otherwise they end up with an abortion that doesn’t look like a new car and doesn’t look like an old one either.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

Unfortunately, at least for you, the owner cares not one bit what you think.

This is one of my favorite cars, turned into an EV, makes it perfect! Me want!

Ah, Detroit of the 40s and 50s. I would love to see some of these designs revived in a BEV form.

Batteries don’t get “full of electrons” when charged. I recommend you to study how batteries work.

Yes, it’s an expression.
Perhaps I should switch to smother the anode in ions.

In a way these are “anti-car cars’ and I’ve always wa-a-ay preferred them to the prevailing, conforming, deadly serious, macho or contemporarily-styled, anonymous, soul-less, character-less cars that clog the streets.

The electric Mini Moke is another classic, dreamy “anti-car car’ .
I’m still dreaming – but one of these days
it’s got to happen.
This New York video reviewer/test-driver prefers it to a Tesla – S, X or 3:
Pail G

Perfect! And a perfect way to keep these vintage and classics well into the first half of 21st century, hopefully.

Just wish they didn’t reduce the spring height so much, it looks worryingly prone against any ramp.

I love what they did with this… I just wish they dropped this ridiculous “heart and soul” rhetoric. Things that are old-fashioned and quirky undeniably have a certain charm — but today’s production cars (EV or otherwise) will feel just as quirky and old-fashioned a couple of decades from now.

It’s not patina, it’s rust. Paint the damn thing. I get that there is a collector market for completely unrestored antique cars, but that’s not this, it’s not a numbers matching barn find it’s a modern electric car with a 49 body. I live in a 200 year old house, it doesn’t have the original paint on it, it’s been painted 40 or 50 times in that 200 years. If you want to preserve an antique you have to maintain it.

ICON did a knockout job with this Merc (especially the engine bay), love it!

The exterior appearance is to prove a point. Get one talking and imagining what it possible with EV conversions and for that matter new EVs. The consumer has to be coached; EVs of today look like their petrol equivalents (e.g. Audi added a grill to their EV SUV to make it look familiar), but EVs of the future will have very different layouts.

Not much to look at but getting a new lease on life as an EV. Give it a good paint job and turn up the radio with some oldies from the late 40’s.