2017 People's Choice Winner
Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Ted Friesen is always working on something. If you ever need to find him the first place you look is in his shop. Be it a small lawn tractor, doodlebug bike, motorcycle, or trailer for his motorcycle, he is never not tinkering. Perusing Kijiji one fall afternoon in 2015 he came across a partially restored 1954 Mercury Truck. It has the original 239 flathead with a whopping 110 HP, 3-speed transmission, and a 3:92 rear axle. He contacted the seller Jim McCarthy immediately, gave the truck a once-over and seven days later it was in his garage.
Restoration of the truck originally began in the early 90's by the late Louis Fontaine, a machinist for CN. Louis sold the truck to his friend Jim McCarthy, who sold it to Ted in the same condition he had purchased it in. The truck was a 'body off' restoration, with the cab back on the frame and painted prior to purchase. The motor, transmission and rear ends had already been rebuilt when Ted took it on. The rest of the body work and paint was done by Arthur of 'A & A Speed Shop'. Ted completed the rest of the restoration in his garage during evenings and weekends. After starting the project it was discovered just how rare the 1954 Mercury was. From manuals to parts, the search for '54 Mercury material was an adventure, especially for badging! So if anyone has the hood letter 'C' lying around, let him know! As of today, the truck has been restored back to its original state - or as close as can be done in a home shop.
The Mercury truck was born in Canada in post World War 2, when the Canadian standard of living was lower than the American and they needed affordable transportation. The Mercury is a replica of the Ford F-100. In 1953 Ford quit using the flathead 8 engine and moved to the y-block whereas the Canadian division Mercury used the flathead for one more year in 1954. Ted's truck still has the original flathead 8 it was built with.
When Ted's grandson first saw the truck, his mind went straight to the rusted tow-truck in Disney's Cars. Going forward, the truck was dubbed 'Mater'. It didn't matter that Mater was a 1951 International, this Mercury was Mater.
The truck hasn't seen many road miles yet, but it runs like a charm and can be occasionally seen cruising up and down the streets in Landmark.
Ted has since sold the Mercury and is working on a new project.