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Jay Leno Drives an Upcycled 1949 Ford Mercury EV, Loves That It’s Still Wonderfully Retro

While vintage car values keep souring, their drivability diminishes. You’ll only need to get behind the wheel of one to realize how much better a cheap but fairly new car off the used market drives. Still, the nostalgia and sentimental value ensure these cars will only be affordable to a handful in this lifetime – and probably the next.
Electric 1949 Ford Mercury 9 photos
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But what good is a car if you can’t drive it? Not many car enthusiasts are happy with storing cars for shock value. It could be as old as the Monalisa, but getting behind its wheel must have meant something to someone at one point.

Fortunately, as the automotive industry develops, it also expands. Today, vintage cars can get the same treatment as modern cars, placing them neck to neck when it comes to onboard tech, drivability, and, more importantly, on-road performance.

A couple of months ago, we featured a story about a neat 1975 BMW 1602 EV Restomod. Like most classic car lovers, the owner was looking for an easy way to own a classic car in London while still being ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) exempt.

Jay Leno recently featured a 1949 Ford Mercury that has undergone the same treatment. Unlike the BMW 1602 EV Restomod, this vintage Ford dons a patina, further legitimizing its leap from the past. This is the work of ICON Motors.

Under the hood, something that resembles a big block crate motor sticks out. Only this time, it’s not a V8 stroker but an electric motor. According to Jonathan Ward, Lead Designer at ICON Motors, it runs on a dual electric motor setup with a transnsmissionless design.

ICON designed it differently, deliberately for gearheads. The main idea was to keep that SoCal hot rod vibe running to identify with old-school hot rodders.

One thing I wanted to make sure to do is like when the old school gearhead dude walks up to the car [...] or worse yet, lifts the hood, and there’s some generic black box with neon under glow lights. They immediately write it off and walk away,” he explained.

It fits the bill, and if you don't see it slither away, you’d assume it’s one of those vintage Mercury hot rods with a big block crate engine.

According to Ward, the Mercy electric makes under 500 lb-ft (678 Nm) of torque. Curious how this vintage upcycled 1949 Ford Mercury rides? Catch that action and the conversation around the build, in the video below.

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