Chris Koch of Palm Coast, Fla., is the retired owner of several Philadelphia-area Ford dealerships. He’s also a vehicle collector, so Koch knows his Blue Oval products. However, one of his legitimate Ford Motor Co. products is often considered fake by the unacquainted.
“Spectators at car shows have informed me that my truck isn’t real,” says Koch of his 1949 Mercury M-47 pickup truck.
Some of the doubters consider Koch’s “fake” Mercury truck to be more of a “ghost truck,” such as a Chevrolet El Camino with a Pontiac front clip or a 1958 Ford Ranchero with an Edsel front clip. This isn’t a correct description for Koch’s pickup truck, either. It’s more accurate to say Koch’s Mercury truck is “badge engineered.”
“Actually, Ford of Canada built Mercury trucks from 1946 to 1968, and not just light-duty trucks but medium-duty haulers, too,” Koch said. “Since these trucks were manufactured in Canada for the Canadian market, it is very unusual to see one in the USA.”
Low-price cars were relatively more popular in Canada than the United States because of the excessive sales and excise taxes, both of which added roughly 20 percent to the sticker price. To provide the Canadian Lincoln-Mercury dealers with a low-price car, dealers received the Meteor, a Ford with Mercury trim. To prevent the Canadian Lincoln-Mercury dealers from having an unfair sales advantage, Canadian Ford stores received a medium-price Mercury clone dubbed “Monarch.”
Throughout Canada, towns had either Ford-Monarch or Lincoln-Mercury-Meteor dealers, but not both. As a result, L-M-M franchises received the Mercury truck, which was very similar to the Ford pickup. To command the higher price, Mercury trucks had more advantages to command a higher price.
This particular Mercury pickup pulled at Koch’s heart strings.
“I found this truck at the RM Auction in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2008,” he said. “It was in pristine condition — nothing appeared needing to be done.”
Mercury derived the M-47 pickup’s “47” nomenclature from the truck’s gross vehicle weight (GVW). The lightest haulers, such as Koch’s truck, have a GVW of 4700 lbs., and Mercury used the first two digits of the GVW to come up with its model name.
With just a few differences, Koch’s pickup is essentially a fraternal twin to the 1948-’52 Ford Bonus Built trucks. Ford spent $1 million to improve the inner cabin when developing the Bonus Built series of trucks. The interior was taller and widened by 7 in. to allow three-across seating. Also improved was the adjustment range for the seat. Doors were relocated 3 in. forward for easier entry and exit. Unfortunately for Koch, these changes were not highly effective.
“I drive with the seat back all the way. However, it’s still too cramped for my 6-ft., 4-in. frame,” Koch said. “It is uncomfortable to drive more than locally. My 2018 Ford F250 has 50 percent more room in the cabin than this truck. Improvement over the past 70 years in truck cab comfort are immense!”
To him, the Mercury is more about experience a bygone era. Still, driving the Mercury is a bit like riding a bronco, Koch said.
“The ride without any weight in the back is very stiff. Since this truck is restored, I wish to keep the bed undamaged so, consequently, there is no weight in the truck and the ride is choppy.”
The 1949 Canadian Ford F-47 and Mercury M-47 only used a V-8 engine so while the ride is choppy, it’s adequately powered.
“The Mercury produced 110 horsepower,” Koch said. “The engine has a quarter-of-an-inch-longer stroke than their Ford cousins, the F-1 made in the USA. The result of this is that the Mercury had 10 more cubic inches and had a greater horsepower rating. Ten more horsepower than the Ford below the border.”
Koch cited additional differences between the Ford F1 and the Mercury M-47.
“The difference between the Mercury and the F1 made in America are not just cosmetics, which surprised me when I bought the truck,” he said. “The greenhouse on the Mercury is about 2 inches higher than the Ford, so all the glass is not interchangeable from one truck to another.”
The Mercury also featured its own tailgate stamped with “Mercury,” the Mercury name on the hood sides and above the grille as well as on the horn button. M-47 badges replaced the F-1 scripts on the cowl. It seems that in addition to the Mercury trim, there can be another significant cosmetic difference to the M-47.
“Many of the (Mercury) trucks were made with two-tone paint jobs. Mine is black and blue, and is not noticeable. But a red-and-black or a yellow-and-black Mercury truck really stands out.”
In addition to its V-8 engine, Koch’s truck is equipped with a three-speed manual floor-shift transmission. He notes, “The truck steers very easily except when parking or doing a K-turn.
Being so far from the Canadian border while in Florida, Koch knows his truck is especially unique.
“What I like best about the truck is that I won’t find another one at a car show, no matter how large,” he said. “I have a fondness for the rare and unusual pieces.”
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