Tesla-powered Icon 1949 Mercury Coupe charges into Jay Leno’s Garage

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Tesla-powered Icon 1949 Mercury Coupe charges into Jay Leno’s Garage

Icon founder Jonathan Ward loves to hide modern technology beneath a layer of patina. He calls his blends of old and new Derelicts, and recently he brought what might be the most extreme car in the series to Jay Leno’s Garage.

It may look like a worn-out 1949 Mercury Coupe on the surface, but this ultimate sleeper has an electric powertrain cobbled together with Tesla tech. The Derelict Mercury broke cover in 2018, but this video provides a more detailed look at this creative build.

A pair of electric motors are mounted where the transmission used to be, retaining the stock rear-wheel-drive system. While some electric conversions of classic cars retain the stock transmission, Ward said this Mercury’s factory-installed 3-speed manual transmission was made superfluous by the dual motors’ combined 500 lb-ft of torque.

In the space vacated by the engine, you’ll find controllers, cooling hardware, and some of the Tesla battery modules (more are located over the rear axle) arranged like a classic V-8. Ward said he wanted a look that would appeal to old-school hot rodders, while also optimizing weight distribution. Together, the battery modules add up to 85 kwh of capacity, which Icon said in 2018 are good for 150-200 miles of range.

A cooling system based around a semi truck air conditioning compressor manages battery, motor, and controller temperatures, as well as the climate control. Like other Derelict builds, the Mercury has a custom chassis with modern suspension and brake components.

Paintwork is the same condition it was when the Mercury was purchased from a Southern California owner off Craigslist. This generation of Mercury was popular with car customizers, so many survivors have been chopped and sectioned into lead sleds. Ward retained the stock appearance, though, as both he and the car’s buyer found it appealing. The only styling changes are a lowered suspension and 18-inch wheels wearing the stock hubcaps.

jay leno's garage, Tesla-powered Icon 1949 Mercury Coupe charges into Jay Leno’s Garage, ClassicCars.com Journal
Icon Derelict 1949 Mercury Coupe on Jay Leno’s Garage

Ward and Icon found some clever ways to maintain the old-school look. The stock fog lights were rebuilt with LED elements, and charge ports for CHAdeMO and Tesla Supercharger plugs were hidden behind the front license plate and in the location of the stock fuel filler, respectively. And while the interior’s leather upholstery is new, it was aged to match the rest of the car.

Icon has churned out several Derelict builds over the years, including a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL with the heart of a C6 Corvette ZR1, but they’ve all been gasoline-powered. The engineering behind the Mercury’s EV conversion, and Ward’s commitment to the Derelict theme, makes it stand out even among those other builds.

This article was originally published by Motor Authority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.

The ClassicCars.com Journal

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