ICON is a Los Angeles-based company that has created a whole new category in the collector car market — the Derelict. Its latest offering is a 1949 Mercury purchased from its original owners and refitted with two electric motors and an 85 kWh battery pack from a Tesla Performance Model S. The car has been the star of the 2018 SEMA show. What is a Derelict? Here’s how ICON defines it on its website.
“The purpose of the ICON Derelict Projects is simple, or it appears as such. Take timeless classic vehicles from any maker, from almost any era, then re-imagine them for modern use. Stay faithful to the original aesthetic design, and in some cases ask what was the purest intended form of the design in the eyes of the original designer, before the business priorities made sacrifices in design and detail, then rewrite history. Eliminate the archaic mechanical elements to allow users to get the best of both worlds; classic styling and modern performance. Re-engineer every detail to create a daily driver with timeless style, modern functionality and environmental consciousness.
We leave the romantic and irreplaceable wabi-sabi finish on the exterior that only decades can create with honesty. We tailor the mechanical experience to our clients personality and use. We restore and enhance the interior space. Under the radar, epic and distinct.”
There was a time when restoring a car meant 67 coats of hand-rubbed lacquer for a finish so rich and deep it can reflect the stars in the sky on a soft summer night. No more. Today, the focus of the resto-mod movement is modern running gear underneath an exterior that reflects the years and miles on the original car — that’s what ICON means by “wabi-sabi finish.” Take a look at the ’49 Mercury Derelict to see exactly what that means.
According to SEMA, ICON forensically disassembled the body, replaced all rubber, added insulation and sound-deadening products everywhere, then reassembled it in a manner that tried to make it look like nothing had been touched. Its four-wheel independent suspension was developed with Art Morrison Enterprises and it features brakes by Brembo.
The powertrain features two electric motors mounted in the space where the transmission used to be, and was engineered in cooperation with Stealth EV. The Tesla battery pack was disassembled and distributed strategically throughout the chassis for excellent weight balance. A bespoke battery management system protects the battery cells from overcharging and provides the needed cooling.
The ’49 Mercury Derelict has a range of 150 to 200 miles. A CHAdeMO fast charger connection is mounted behind a tilting front license plate, while a Tesla Supercharger connection is fitted inside the original gas filler. Recharging time is given as 90 minutes.
Under the hood is a stunning device that houses the battery controllers and some of the battery cells. Made from polished and media blasted aluminum, it pays homage to the V-8 engine that occupied that space when the car left the factory nearly 70 years ago. ICON has covered the wiring with cloth-braided sheathing that mimics the original wiring loom.
On the inside, vintage appropriate fabrics and leather recreate the original look of the interior. Electric motors operate the original window window winders, while the replacement gauges feature the the background and typeface of the originals. Air conditioning vents and other dashboard elements are designed to maintain the look of the original car.
Want to make your own Derelict? Bring your checkbook. While there is no official information about what this particular car cost the owner, a Buick Roadmaster from ICON was offered for sale recently for just under $400,000. This resto-mod/rat rod craze is not for the faint of heart or people with thin wallets.