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.
ICON DEBUTS “DERELICT” 1949 MERCURY COUPE WITH PIONEERING EV CONVERSION AT SEMA 2018
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.