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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

1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster Exterior
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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

1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster Exterior
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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.

1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster Exterior
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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.

1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster Interior
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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

1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster Exterior
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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.

Monterey Auction

1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster Exterior
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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?

Source: RM Auctions

Alina Moore
Alina Moore
Alina Joined the team in the early 2000s as one of the outlets very first experts, and she’s been with ever since. Over the years, she’s served various roles, but today she’s is relied on heavily to verify automotive facts, assist with formatting, and discover new and engaging topics.  Read full bio
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Show Comments


  (714) posted on 01.27.2012

The copper and brass lining in the car is very luxurious combine with white is very classic. I like the interior design is impressive and looks comfortable.

  (377) posted on 01.4.2012

Is there any update about this car? How much was its final bidding? I am hoping that it became higher. This one is really an amazing car, I think.

  (501) posted on 10.21.2011

I agree. If it belongs to us, surely we would give even our single dime to maintain the antiquity of this car. And though I am not amazed on how it looks similar to a boat, I would say that this one is a classic car to own.

  (459) posted on 09.1.2011

This a kind of style of vintage car is like a boat. It seems that have spent million order to restore this kind of car. 

  (368) posted on 08.10.2011

I think it is too pricey, aside from the fact that it is already old, it is also weak in terms of power. The people who will attend the auction will be the aged because they will consider this as their collection. By the way, I still want to see this on the road.

  (516) posted on 08.4.2011

Agreed. The platform of the car doesn’t look so vintage. The specs of the car seems great. Restoring this car is not a big joke. Well, I bet its owner had spent million in order to restore this impressive piece of art. This is one of the lovely vintages that I have seen so far. 

  (358) posted on 08.4.2011

Wow! I love the white pearl scent and gold theme for this vintage vehicle. It really makes the car classier and luxurious. The restoration process is kind of impressive. And it seems that they have spent a million dollar to maintain and restored the car. 

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