Mercury

The Menacing 1949 Mercury Hot Rod From ‘Grease’ Is Heading to Auction—With Olivia Newton-John’s Autograph

The Menacing 1949 Mercury Hot Rod From ‘Grease’ Is Heading to Auction—With Olivia Newton-John’s Autograph

In the wake of Olivia Newton-John’s passing on Monday, at the age of 73, it’s no surprise to see Grease and its memorabilia get renewed attention. Indeed, one of the classic movie’s most memorable props—consigned months before the singer’s death—is now headed to auction complete with her autograph.

The famous 1949 Mercury hot rod featured in the 1978 musical will be sold on August 20 at a Mecum Auctions event in Monterey, California. The custom coupe was built by the legendary Eddie Paul and used in the unforgettable Thunder Road drag race at the Los Angeles River Basin. During one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Danny Zuko (John Travolta) takes on his rival Leo “Craterface” Balmundo (Dennis Stewart) from behind the wheel of “Greased Lightning,” a 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible. Balmundo, on the other hand, drives “Hell’s Chariot,” a black convertible with yellow flame paint job for the high-speed chase.  

Hell’s Chariot versus Greased Lightning in the Thunder Road drag race from “Grease” 

Getty

The vehicle was created to be as menacing as its Scorpions leader and features hubcaps with spinning blades attached. Though they did a number on Greased Lightning, spoiler alert, it ultimately wasn’t enough to keep Zuko from winning the race and the girl.
Today, the car still maintains its original 255 CI flathead V-8 engine and 3-speed manual transmission with Touch-O-Matic overdrive, as well as “Scorpions” stickers on both doors, Firestone Wide Oval tires and 1950 Mercury grill. A later addition was an autograph from Olivia Newton-John, who starred opposite Travolta as Sandy Olsson, on the dash. It carries a pre-auction estimate of $600,000 to $750,000. 

Olivia Newton-John’s signature appears on the dashboard of the 1949 Mercury hot rod, Hell’s Chariot 

Getty

In addition to appearing in the Paramount film, Hell’s Chariot was used during the opening scene of “Grease Live” and has made several appearances in ad campaigns and TV shows. Most notably, Newton-John was paraded around in Hell’s Chariot during the grand entrance of her 2014 Las Vegas residency “Summer Nights.” The Australian singer and actress died on Monday, August 8 from complications from cancer.  

One of the Most Famous Custom Cars of All Time, the Hirohata Merc, Is Going Up for Auction This Week

One of the Most Famous Custom Cars of All Time, the Hirohata Merc, Is Going Up for Auction This Week

After gracing the covers and pages of countless hot rod magazines over the decades, the Hirohata Merc could be destined for a permanent spot in your garage.

That’s because the pastel green coupé—which is easily one of the most famous custom cars of all time, if not the most—is one of the headline lots at Mecum’s Kissimmee 2022 auction this weekend. An opportunity like this is exceedingly rare, as this will mark the first time the car has been for sale in over 60 years.

The Hirohata Merc started out life as a standard 1951 Mercury Eight Club Coupe. It was a particularly car-obsessed time in Southern California, and its owner, Bob Hirohata, wanted a vehicle that would really turn heads, according to Road & Track. So, in 1953, he took his car to George Barris’s custom shop and asked him and his brother Sam to turn it into something special. The rest is hot rod history.

Inside the Hirohata Merc 

Mecum Auctions

The Barris team took an already sleek coupé and made it even smoother. First, they chopped and lowered the two-door, then they shaved off its emblems, door handles and other extraneous details. It features scoops, spotlights placed just ahead of the A-pillars and a unique grille made from the parts of three different Ford grilles. Its front wheels have also been outfitted in a set of sparkling Cadillac wheels. Why Cadillac rims, you ask? Just look under the hood, where you’ll find a Caddy V-8, making the car a Mercillac. Finally, it was finished in a stunning coat of sea foam green, which offsets its two-tone, cream and green leather interior and special Barris badging.
The Hirohata Merc was an immediate hit, making appearances at Motorama shows, the Indy 500, and in loads of magazines. It even made a cameo in the 1955 film noir Running Wild. Times change, though, and by the beginning of the decade it had fallen into disrepair and ended up on a used car lots. It’s because of this that late car collector Jim McNeil was able to buy the coupé for $500 when he was just 16. The car would sit untouched in his garage for decades, but in the ‘90s, he had it fully restored with the help of the members of the original Barris shop team. It wouldn’t be a quick process, though, and the fully restored vehicle didn’t make its public debut until 2015. That same year it won First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours.

Under the hood of the Hirohata Merc 

Mecum Auctions

The legendary custom car is schedule to go up for bid this Saturday. Mecum expects it to sell for somewhere between $1 million and $1.25 million, which is no surprise given its history. Regardless of the final bid, it’s sure to make McNeil’s teenage $500 purchase seem like the steal of the century.
Check out more photos of the Hirohata Merc below:

Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions

Mecum Auctions

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com