Emerald Icon of  a Lost Era

The Hirohata Mercury,  by Ken Gross Photos courtesy of the  Historic Vehicle Association

Even if you don’t know anything about custom cars, you have to admire the audacity of this pale-green jewel on wheels.

This famous Barris Kustom-built, hard-topped 1951 Mercury, built for Los Angeles native Robert “Bob” Hirohata, and copied many times, has long been considered the definitive early “lead sled.”

The Hirohata Mercury won its class in Bob Petersen’s 1952 “International Motorama,” and it was featured in Rod & Custom magazine in 1953

Hirohata replaced the stock flathead with a 1953 Cadillac V-8 that was installed in a week by Dick Lyon of Lyon Engineering.

Pat Ganahl, author of “The American Custom Car,” wrote that “the Hirohata Merc began the era of redesign and ornamentation that would soon get completely out of hand; (but) the Hirohata did it with integrity and some subtlety.”