Sorry Honda. Not 24 hours after we declared the Rugged Open Air Concept the winner of SEMA 2018, it’s been demoted to second place by this – a 1949 Mercury Coupe ‘Derelict’ built by the highly-skilled men and women at California’s ICON 4×4.
Derelicts are basically resto-mods. Their exteriors and interiors are left looking as original as possible to preserve decades of patina, but underneath ICON adds modern powertrains and technology. Typically said powertrain is a crate V8, but not this time.
Built for a “longtime client who gave ICON the go-ahead to push the boundaries of design and engineering”, this Mercury is running dual electric motors and a Tesla 85kWh battery. The result is 400bhp, 470lb ft of torque, between 150 and 200 miles of range, and CHAdeMO 125A fast-charger and Tesla Supercharger plugs hidden behind the front number plate and in the original fuel filler cap respectively.
The batteries are distributed “strategically” throughout the car, while the motors are installed where the transmission once lived. Under the bonnet, the battery controllers and various modules are finished in polished aluminium and arranged to look like an old-school V8. Even all the wires get custom sheathing, so they look like the original loom.
The exterior looks just like it did when ICON bought it from its original owner in Southern California. The car was immediately disassembled, then put back together again with new rubbers plus more insulation and sound-deadening. Inside the analogue dials have been replaced by a small screen – the only real clue this thing isn’t what it seems. There’s also A/C and electric windows operated by the original winders.
You want it, right? Ask ‘em nicely and ICON might build you something similar. Money talks and all that. In the meantime, see it in the metal at SEMA in Las Vegas.