It’s quite possible that the Mercer name may not spark any type of recognition with the younger crowd. After all, this company was an American automobile manufacturer that produced cars before World War II and are probably not mentioned in any of the history books handed out in most classrooms. For the short version of the story, Mercer was responsible for the Mercer 35 Raceabout which was produced back in 1910 and considered the most admired sports cars of the decade. This vehicle was capable of hitting a top speed of 90 mph, which at the time was quite a feat, and was admired so much that Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano ended up building a modern interpretation of it in 1965.
The Mercer Cobra Roadster was a one-off vehicle commissioned by the Copper Development Association from Virgil Exner’s designs in Esquire. Its design was drawn up by Virgil Exner and Virgil Exner, Jr. and was built using a Cobra chassis, number CSX2451.
The special Mercer-Cobra Roadster will be put to auction on August 20, 2011 in Monterey with an expected draw of $800,000-$1,200,000.
See what makes up a 1.2M Mercer Cobra after the jump.
Creating the design
The modern Mercer Raceabout was created at the request of Esquire magazine writer, Diana Bartley, who wanted "to seek out Exner’s ideas on the possibilities for modern designs of classic and antique cars and how such heritage could be expressed within the constraints of modern chassis and engines and customers’ increasing preference for comfort and luxury."
As a result Exner designed four impressive cars: the Stutz Super Bearcat (with a sliding retractable roof panel), the Duesenberg Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton, the Packard Convertible Victoria, and the Mercer Raceabout.
From design to reality
Since the Mercer Raceabout was very well received, Copper Development Association and Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano decided to move forward with the actual production of the vehicle. The most notable feature of this modern interpretation is that it was built on a Cobra chassis (number CSX2451) and can be found on the Shelby American World Registry as sold through Shelby American in February 1964. Not only did Shelby provide the chassis, but the company also provided the engine and gearbox.
With these major components out of the way, Copper went about sifting through the many details for the rest of the build. Copper ended up with eleven different materials, alloys, and finishes for both the interior and exterior to demonstrate the diversity of copper and brass. The Mercer Cobra features a long hood and a pushed-back passenger compartment with long blade-style front fenders, abbreviated rear fenders with separate mudguards behind the rear wheels, and a long, tapered rear deck.
The front of the car is dominated by a classic-style brass grille with eight large elements in front of mesh stone guards and headlights ingeniously mounted on pivots where they swing back flush with the sides of the nose when not illuminated. All of these parts and accessories on the exterior were then covered in a Pearl White before the full-width curved Plexiglas windscreen was put in. A new set of 16-inch wire wheels with multi-piece brass covers adds the finishing touch to the exterior.
As for the interior, nothing was spared. The black leather stretches across the seat backs and door panels, while the dashboard gauges were created in copper and the steering-wheel spokes in a high-strength chromium-copper alloy.
Mercer Cobra Roadster Takes a Trip around the Block
Since its completion, the Mercer Cobra Roadster has had more owners than some would like. Its first home belonged to concept-car collector Joe Bortz in the early 1970s, but then crossed hands to Jim Southard, Al Wright, and Tom Barrett, also car collectors. After that, the Cobra Roadster found its semi-permanent home in the Lyon Family. Since 1989, the car has been in the Lyon Family Collection, making its rounds at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and at a special event at the University of Notre Dame in 2007 entitled “The Era of Exner.” After over 20 years in the Lyon family, the 1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster is now readying itself for its next home.
This one-off Mercer Cobra Roadster will be put up for auction on August 20, 2011 at Monterey and is expected to fetch between $800,000-$1,200,000. You got the bills to make an offer?