Monday, November 10, 2008

Hot Rods & Custom Cars from the 1960's

The Mint Julep I - Owner: Ken Bausert
Location: Richmond Hill, New York

(One "new" photo added to this section Dec. 2, 2010. -Ken)

My first car was a 1950 Mercury convertible,
bought on May 11, 1959 at a cost of $125.
I was fifteen years-old and worked on it
after school and on weekends.
The earliest modifications included
shaving the hood & deck,
shortening the side trim,
making up a custom grille using pieces
of discarded side trim,
and lowering the tail lights two inches.

(Above, "new" b&w photo added.)

By the time I graduated high school,
the first incarnation of Mint Julep was complete.
The car was lowered two-inches in the rear,
custom accessory tail lights had been added,
'57 Merc Cruiser Skirts were installed with
'54 Merc chrome teeth and lowered side trim to match.
The car was painted mint green and I added
black scallops. The cat on the
deck lid was courtesy of the film, 101 Dalmatians.

The headlights were tunneled by molding in
'54 Merc rims and chrome bullets
replaced the original parking lights
which were relocated behind the grille.

1954 Buick portholes were set into the hood
and helped to cool the engine compartment.

The engine was a '51 Merc with Fenton finned aluminum
high-compression heads, a four barrel carb
on an Edelbrock manifold
and the intake & exhaust ports were enlarged.
An electric fuel pump and
duel-point ignition were also added.

The dashboard was covered with
padded rolled & pleated vinyl
and new upholstery was added.
The floor shift came from a '57 T-Bird.

The outside door handles were removed and
operated by hidden push buttons
and a keyed electric cut off switch.
This shot was taken on 69th Place,
in Glendale, near Ken Szekretar's house.

The full-length chrome Lakes pipes were
spliced into the exhaust system
and functional when the end caps were removed.
Note the old general store (Hattie & Nettie's)
on 95th Avenue,
between 127th & 129th Streets,
in Richmond Hill, in the left background.

Me (at 17 years of age) and the Mint Julep;
all modifications were performed by myself
with the exception of the mint green paint job,
the upholstery and new convertible top.
Plaque hanging under the rear
is from the 1320 Crusaders
(a car club I formed with some friends).
1,320 feet is the length of a
1/4 mile regulation drag strip.

Billy Stein (in the driver's seat)
and Eddie Talerine,
two friends from the neighborhood,
pose with my Merc outside the entrance to
Westhampton Drag Strip on Long Island
(circa 1961).
All photos are from my personal collection
and © by Ken Bausert.

The Mint Julep II - Owner: Ken Bausert

After an accident involving some damage
to the front end, I began remodeling the car again.
Twin radio antenni were mounted in a two-inch deep
recessed oval on the right door.
The '57 Merc Cruiser skirts were
welded to the body & molded in; a radiused opening
to match the front wheel opening
was cut into the skirts to access the rear wheels.
A scoop was cut in the front edge of the skirts
and a slim piece of chrome moulding
extended into the opening of the scoop.

The rear of the Cruiser skirt was extended
and wrapped around into a rear grille cavity
on each side of the license plate.
1962 Pontiac Bonneville tail light assemblies
were installed in each rear cavity.
The gas filler cap was welded closed and
molded into the left rear quarter panel
(the new gas filler was installed in the trunk).

Me and the second incarnation of the Mint Julep,
photo taken on the north side of 95th Avenue,
between 127th & 129th Streets,
(there is no 128th Street at this location,
in case you're wondering).

Ah! I was finally able to afford color film.
The paint was hand-rubbed
metallic Neptune Green lacquer,
a GM color, I remember.
I think Sal Consiglio and I painted it in his garage.

(Two "new" color negatives were discovered
in an envelope in a cigar box
and added to this section Dec. 2, 2010. -Ken)

The car sat on a slight rake
(lower in the front/higher in the rear)
and two long chrome scavenger pipes
brought the exhaust out the rear.

(Above, one of the "new" pix.)

The hood corners were rounded,
and 1954 Buick headlight rims were
frenched into the front fenders in a canted fashion;
slim chrome bullets replaced
the original Buick parking lights.
A 1954 Oldsmobile grille was shortened
and installed with hand-cut frosted plexiglass lenses
to create the new parking/directional lights.

(Above, one of the "new"pix added.)
The front bumper was removed and the pan rolled
with a license plate housing created in the center.

Most creative welding and metal work
on this renovation project was performed
by my friend, Paul Wood (Woody).
All finish work was done by myself.
(Wow! I just realized how little tread
was on that right front tire!)

The Merc engine was replaced by a '54 Oldsmobile
(324 cu. in.) "Rocket" V8,
running nearly stock with
just an electric fuel pump added.
The car was completely rewired
and ran on 12 volts.
Transmission was standard '50 Merc for a while,
then the Merc trans with '39 Ford gears
(better low-end acceleration), then a
Cadillac LaSalle transmission for a short time
before switching back to a Merc.
All modifications, unless otherwise noted,
were done by myself.
All photos from
my personal collection and © by Ken Bausert.

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Aj said...

Wooo! I get to leave your FIRST comment! Your "Nostalgic Museum" blog is off to a great start. I totally dig those pictures. You look like you were quite the badass back in the day, man.

As a fellow lover of old "stuff" - photos, electronics, etc. - I very much look forward to following your blogs!

engineer said...

ken GM needs you and nice hair.

gwad said...

aaahhh--remember when we were that young---great job on the car---glad u were able to finally afford color film. u still have a great memory to recall all the terms 4 ur modifications.

Warren Bausert said...

Ken -- I enjoyed seeing and reading about Mint Julip I & II. If I knew there were two incarnations of the car, I had forgotten. The pictures were great. Which version of te car did you enjoy more? WJB 12/15/2008

Ken said...

I have mixed feeling about the car. The first version represented a very special time in my life since it was the culmination of my dream to build my own customized car. The second incarnation is different in the sense that it represents a more sophisticated yet radical approach.