Skip to content

FOR SALE: 1949 Mercury Woodie

by Dave on December 25, 2019


Here it is, the woodie that started it all. Don Iglesias bought the car in 1990, got it road-worthy, and was having so much fun running with the small crew of other Santa Cruz woodie owners that he decided to start a club. In 1993 Santa Cruz Woodies became the first chapter of the National Woodie Club west of the Mississippi. The National wasn’t quite sure what to do with this irreverent tribe of surfers and hot rodders, but their enthusiasm was certainly evident. Over the years Santa Cruz grew to be the largest NWC chapter in the country. It also hosts one of the best car events anywhere: Woodies on the Wharf.

This Merc’s history as a surf wagon goes back even further. Originally from Los Gatos, it had served as a parts chaser for the local Ferrari dealer. It moved “over the hill” to Santa Cruz in the 1970’s and passed through the hands of a number of locals, including surfing standout Dave “Spider” Preovolos and surf historian Mac Reed. When Mac sold the Merc to Don, it was ready for some TLC.

Don began an extensive restoration, including a number of mechanical updates designed to make the car more fun to run in today’s traffic. The body was stripped and repainted, the chrome trim was replated, and the interior – including all three rows of seat – was treated to new upholstery, headliner and carpet.

Mercury fans know that the ‘49 has an especially lovely two-toned, dark-and-light, wood-grained dashboard. Don took his, along with the car’s window garnish, to legendary Bay Area woodgrain specialist Craig Clemmons for restoration. Craig has since passed away but his work is treasured, gracing cars from Pebble Beach classics to vintage hot rods.

On the exterior, Mercurys have a unique fade-away design element that carries from the top of the fender line back into the doors. Don discovered that while this contoured panel is beautiful to look at, it’s pure hell to restore. The solution was to have it done by someone with experience and Don chose the best: Ron Heiden Woodworking. Ron crafted all new wood inside and out from Eastern Hard Rock Maple and Sapele Mahogany, then fit it perfectly to Don’s sheet metal. The amazing finish on the wood can be seen in the photos. It’s furniture-quality –- high end furniture.

Mechanically, the car is just as well-crafted. The original motor’s been fully rebuilt with Navarro heads, a SCAT 4 inch crank, Isky cam, and a pair of 97’s on a Navarro intake. Now converted to 12V, the car also sports a Mallory electronic ignition and alternator and has been rewired by another one of the best: Jim Vickery. The attention to detail in the engine bay is notable. From the firewall to the ceramic-coated headers to the new Brassworks radiator, everything under the hood is either painted, plated or polished.

The car features a couple of additional updates you might not spot, but you’ll appreciate when you get behind the wheel: power steering and an automatic transmission. Ask anyone who drives an original shoebox what they’d like to update and they’ll probably say the steering. Don upgraded his with a modern Saginaw power steering box. He also installed Ford C4 automatic overdrive transmission, another fairly common (and proven) update that makes these cars much friendlier on the freeway.

Cosmetically beautiful and mechanically modern, this car has something else you just can’t buy: soul. From its colorful history to its rolling collection of vintage surf decals, if you’re looking for a woodie, it doesn’t get much better than this.

For more info and contact information, click here



Owner CATHY & DON IGLESIAS , Santa Cruz CA 


Stock Mercury body, repainted single-stage Ford Maroon

Bumpers and trim replated and polished

Vintage glass blue-dot taillights

Vintage Mercury accessory exhaust tips


Eastern Hard Rock Maple framing with Sapele Mahogany panels, crafted and fitted by Ron Heiden Woodworking, Vista, CA


Dashboard and window garnished restored and wood-grained by Craig Clemmons

New mahogany door and side panels by Ron Heiden

Custom headliner slats and “surfboard” mirror by Ron Heiden

Full instrumentation including tach and dual water temp gauges

Original three rows of seats, reupholstered by Ray’s Upholstery, Watsonville, CA

Ididit tilt steering column with custom wheel

Pioneer stereo


Original Mercury flathead, fully rebuilt

SCAT 4 inch crank

Navarro heads, polished

Navarro intake, polished

Dual Stromberg 97 carbs

Isky cam

Mallory electronic ignition

Red’s headers, ceramic coated


Ford C4 automatic w/overdrive


Saginaw power steering

Custom Brassworks radiator with electric fan

12V conversion, wiring by Jim Vickery

Coker Classic whitewall radial tires

From → For Sale

Comments are closed.