Home » I Saw Some Crazy Stuff At An LA Car Show: A Mercury Pickup Truck, A Diesel International Scout, An Iso Grifo

I Saw Some Crazy Stuff At An LA Car Show: A Mercury Pickup Truck, A Diesel International Scout, An Iso Grifo

Carsofla Dt Top
ADVERTISEMENT

The song “Mercury Blues” has its roots way back to the 1940s, when it — via the lyrics “crazy ’bout a Mercury” — paid homage to what was then a stalwart in the American auto world: Ford’s Mercury brand. That brand became a shell of its former self by the 1990s and 2000s, and then ultimately disappeared in 2011, but don’t let those dark days hide the glory that once was the Mercury M-series of pickup trucks — rebranded Ford F-trucks for the Canadian market. This white one joins an absurdly rare International Scout diesel and an Iso Grifo as the stars of the car show I attended in LA on Sunday.

Cars & Coffee events are too damn early, and yet, because I have to get up everyday around 6:15 anyway to run this website, I managed to attend the one at Griffith Park about 15 minutes east of my Studio City, CA apartment. I drove my beloved 1985 Jeep J10, and met up with my friend Tom (you can see him below, just in front of my J10 on the left), who drove his own Nash wagon.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The car show was legit; it was a genuinely diverse grouping of some of the most incredible old Mercedes diesels you’ve ever seen, lots of BMWs and Porsches, and plenty of JDM glory. My four favorites, though, were these:

Mercury M-Series

342041551 1285072842444498 275120810732596419 N

I work with a Canadian everyday – Thomas Hundal — and yet somehow he’s been keeping the Mercury M-Series from me, for whatever reason. How did he not, upon our first meeting, mention: “David, this interview shouldn’t continue until I tell you that in Canada you could buy a rebadged Ford truck called the “Mercury M-Series”? Come on, Thomas, this is important stuff! I would have hired you on the spot!

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s a fascinating thing, really, and I’m going to let Canadian auto journalist Glen Woodcock describe why it exists. From his archived write-up on Autonet.ca:

In the brave postwar world of 1948, there were two types of Ford Motor Company dealerships in Canada – those that sold Fords and those that sold Lincoln-Mercury products. Why they didn’t just combine all three lines I’ll never know, but I’m glad they didn’t. Because to give Ford dealers a more upscale car to compete against Oldsmobile and DeSoto, the Canadian division, then headquartered in Windsor, created the Monarch line of badge-engineered Mercurys. And so Mercury-Lincoln dealers could have a lower priced car to compete against Chevrolet and Plymouth, they invented the Meteor line of badge-engineered Fords.
Both of these new cars were made in Canada, and exclusive to Canada, but that still left Mercury-Lincoln-Meteor dealers without a brand of trucks.

He goes on:

According to R. Perry Zavitz’s 1993 book, Monarch/Meteor, reprinted last year and available from Old Autos Publications for $30, there were few major styling differences between 1948-50 Mercury trucks and their Ford counterparts. The biggest change was Mercury’s use of a more massive chromed grille, with four broad horizontal bars rather than Ford’s five narrow bars. Mercury trucks also got a chrome strip on their front fenders and rectangular parking lamps.
“Virtually every Ford truck model was duplicated for Mercury dealers to sell,” Perry wrote. “The same engine and transmissions offered by Ford trucks of Canada were available with the Mercury label.”

Model designations were the same, except they began with an “M” instead of an “F.” From 1951, with few exceptions, the only difference between Ford and Mercury trucks was the nameplate. Over the years, the Mercury line of trucks sold in Canada mirrored what was available from Ford – everything from parcel deliveries to heavy duty step vans, and from school buses and cab forward designs to Super Duty tandem axle models.
Mercury trucks were built in Windsor until 1953, then in Oakville, and were marketed here until they were phased out in favour of their more popular Ford siblings.
The last Mercury truck rolled off the Oakville assembly line on March 23, 1968.

342009982 775553613918839 5799981031450848501 N 344604116 216758787745292 4753089339517762066 N 344574318 197428439822687 4509456294698878213 N

A Diesel International Scout

342041809 753461516501886 2298592210008888645 N

My favorite car at the meetup with this Turbodiesel International Scout II, which not only featured the 1980-only Nissan  SD33T turbodiesel, but also badging and some incredible graphics on the sides. Just look at this glory:

344109740 928853888261886 2165193838191863812 N

ADVERTISEMENT

 

344011622 610514590762334 1449780146049403879 N  343958842 961461375204067 4533171976352628158 N 342731507 634469715364460 8164556401152091823 N 343956289 240872878490297 3400881478386138255 N

Behold that mighty turbodiesel. Typically, Scouts were equipped with 304 V8s or 345 V8s or maybe AMC straight sixes or they might have a four-cylinder made using a V8 block (an absurdity).

344015214 168146962857513 9107946526474367731 N

 

ADVERTISEMENT

342041554 770806387755945 8523624693002782193 N

Actually, just for fun, I want to show that crazy four-cylinder that International used to build using a V8 block, because it really is absurd:

Rwp Scout Comanche Engine

The brochure above makes it look like a V-engine, but as ISASIH’s for-sale listing on the forum “IH Parts America” shows, that rearward bank features no cylinders!:

Screen Shot 2023 05 05 At 10.40.02 Am
Image: ISASIH/IHPARTSAMERICA

 

ADVERTISEMENT
Screen Shot 2023 05 05 At 10.40.19 Am
Image: ISASIH/IHPARTSAMERICA

Anyway, back to the incredibly-rare turbodiesel (IH also offered naturally aspirated diesel Scouts, but I bet they were clinically slow, not that this one isn’t); check out the interior, which the owner told me was the original interior design (but restored):

342004999 467283885582407 393721441327917384 N342030048 3582523728637137 7496359829444669268 N  344102024 617411967099721 12133101058845067 N 344000432 571927314776320 2687635080059792724 N 343749711 1312908092907722 3267466290020418038 N

Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution

344772667 2576219865858564 2382636953003049384 N

I’ll let my former colleague Raphael Orlove talk about the mighty homologation special that is the Mitsubishi Pajero Evo. In short, it’s a Dakar vehicle sold to the public; it’s an absolute rally monster, especially in the really rough, high-speed stuff. From Raph’s Jalopnik article:

The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution, PajEvo for short, was built from ‘97 through ‘99 as a means of sneaking into the Dakar Rally’s production-based T2 class. The Dakar Rally is the toughest car (and bike) race in the world, and building a car for it is a serious task. It should come as no surprise that the PajEvo is a serious car.

The PajEvo got all new suspension, new differentials, a unique 276 horsepower, 257 lb-ft variable valve timing 3.5 liter V6 engine, skidplates, Recaro seats, a widebody kit, and mudflaps. Gotta love those mudflaps.

The idea was to sneak a super-strong car into the otherwise-tame stock class by selling 2500 beefy specials to the public. That homologates them for the stock class. It’s a way to sort of stretch the rules by following them to the letter of the law but not the spirit.

d344590476 907254140384482 8370115461422038300 N

ADVERTISEMENT

Iso Grifo

342039653 3459540844263091 5195093368487833271 N

What you’re looking at here is a rare Italian car built by the same company that made Isetta microcars, which were licensed to BMW in Germany after apparently not selling so well in their home market. That company was named Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A., though by the time it bowed out of the microcar game and started building larger sports cars in the early 1960s, the name changed to Iso Rivolta (named after Renzo Rivolta who created the car company out of a refrigerator manufacturer named Isothermos). Here’s Car and Driver‘s blurb on the car:

Renzo Rivolta built Isothermos refrigerators before WWII, but after the war he perceived a greater need amongst Italian consumers for basic transportation and added capacity to build scooters and Isetta bubblecars under license from BMW. With success came a desire to build grand touring cars, first the Iso Rivolta, a Bertone-styled four-seat coupe, appeared in 1962, and later the two-seat Gran Turismo Grifo in 1963. Power came from the Corvette’s small-block V-8 and four-speed gearbox, but the chassis was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini and cloaked in an aerodynamic body built by Bertone and designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The price was about double that of a Corvette, but the Iso Grifo was way lighter and more technically sophisticated.

344625311 1680124545778509 5057143593290323591 N

A typical Iso Grifo in good shape tends to sell for over $600,000. And it was just sitting in that parking lot in Griffith Park, for all to see. What a great car show this was!

Ford Taunus 17M

342014061 853031376483884 1865564427164697412 N

ADVERTISEMENT

I will admit that anytime I hear the name “Ford Taunus,” the first thing I think is “V4 engine,” but that didn’t come until the early 1960s, and the “P2” Taunus 17M you see here is from the late ’50s, and features an overhead valve inline-four.  It’s a larger Taunus variant, and coincided with the beginning of German cars (this Taunus was developed by Ford’s division in Germany) upsizing after diminutive, cute cars that abounded after World War II when resources were scarce. The styling of this larger Taunus was inspired by American cars of the era, and that’s obvious when you look at the tailfins:

342009212 1351522368738230 4296697726347903311 N

 

344552120 9922646857753004 7033726834967375042 N

An honorable mention from the show was this 1987 Buick Riviera, specifically its amazing CRT touchscreen command center, which still worked!

ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Autopian (@theautopian)

 

Here are some photos of other vehicles from the show. Speaking of shows, if you’re in Detroit, bring your car to our Walmart meetup! Detroit car culture and LA car culture are both incredibly strong; which is stronger? I still need more time to decide.

342014049 574109114701553 8142222521914742707 N 342111530 1067531990874081 4121558730816653504 N 342030286 988392915664212 4272048906533544865 N 344297800 1251689822215008 4070860290345177077 N  344576760 182306440979686 7866429576928456317 N  342014061 760184959089385 615596431800533396 N 342013859 1398686430921868 3483830748764111218 N 342012346 935876360858701 3132197070773299176 N 342000544 1273686463575753 2405292378266896614 N  342035046 610321827663272 4910655888478359275 N 342011474 1172815276749545 2878703077873323811 N 342025033 537402078593765 5548462210995060006 N 342009377 979540996553332 3130675821004061246 N

 

ADVERTISEMENT
Popular Stories

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
45 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pedro
Pedro
1 year ago

No Gumpert Apollo…FFS. The ISO did use a Corvette engine, but not a stock one. Bizzarrini called GM and said the engines melted at sustained European high speeds, what should he do. They said: Drive slower. The man did not have an easy life.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 year ago

You must have missed this piece by one of your former coworkers:

https://jalopnik.com/old-mercury-pickup-trucks-from-canada-weird-me-out-1843085854

I can’t remember if you were already writing for them when Graverobber posted this one: https://jalopnik.com/for-4-500-get-a-work-merc-493114472

eta: I’m also shocked that you’re familiar with “Mercury Blues” – whose version(s)?

Last edited 1 year ago by Dead Elvis, Inc.
Mike F.
Mike F.
1 year ago

Hopefully Lindley’s, at least.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike F.

I have difficulty believing that DT knows anything of David Lindley (not a criticism – it’s not like casual music fans of many ages know about him).

Alan Jackson’s seems the most likely version.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dead Elvis, Inc.
Scoutdude
Scoutdude
1 year ago

The Turdo Diesel Scout is not “incredibly rare”. The take rate for diesels was higher than it had ever been in 1980 due to the price of fuel climbing again and presumably the fact that with the Turbo the SD-33T was quicker than a human unlike the original CN-33. That CN stood for Chrysler-Nissan (who was the US distributor for ~10 years) and was actually cast into the valve cover. The other way you can tell the CN-33 from the SD-33 is the fact that those that were sold by Chrysler were painted yellow on top of the Nissan blue, while those purchased directly from Nissan didn’t get a second coat of paint.

KennyB
KennyB
1 year ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

So if it’s not incredibly rare, we can see them driving around the country on a daily basis? While the take rate may have been high how many Scout’s were built that year, let alone optioned with the turbo diesel? How many are still around now, 43 years later?

Pat Douglas Barron
Pat Douglas Barron
1 year ago

Absurd is certainly not the adjective I would use to describe the IH slant-four engine. It’s unusual, yes. Ingenious, yes. Incongruous, maybe, but how could it possibly be absurd?

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 year ago

Much less absurd than the Jaguar 6 cyl with a complete 8 cyl block….

Nobody called the Porsche 944 engine absurd – it was hailed as half the 928’s V8.

Ron888
Ron888
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

Thanks.Somehow i’d never heard of this before!

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
1 year ago

An Iso Grifo is love ❤️

One year when I was going to the pebble beach car show, we stopped for coffee at 7ish in the morning at a run down strip mall north of Monterey. There was a dingy laundromat around the corner – and a guy in front unloading laundry from an Iso Grifo!

There was a truck stop coffee cup on the roof, this magnum PI looking guy fiddling with laundry in the open trunk… and it was a goddamn ISO GRIFO, just sitting there like a normal car, something a mere mortal might be able to own and touch and drive.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago

That blue Prelude is beautiful and mint! Love it!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

That Grifo is so pretty <3

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

TURDO
DIESEL

Jonee Eisen
Jonee Eisen
1 year ago

You never know who or what’s going to show up at that C&C. It’s a great time.
On another note, I can’t believe the dummies at Car and Driver printed this about Iso:
added capacity to build scooters and Isetta bubblecars under license from BMW.” As all Autopians know, Iso licensed the Isetta to BMW, not from. The name means “Little Iso” for Pete’s sake.

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago

Ha, I spot some friends in the background of the photos. Also saw the Mercury at the Fabulous Fords Forever car show a few weeks ago.

Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
1 year ago

Nice Noble M400. There’s one somewhere in the Puget Sound area that I’ve seen occasionally.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
1 year ago

a. If you think the Mercury M-series is odd, Google about for the Mercury Econoline pickups and vans – it’s truly bizarre.

b. Right around the same time as I-H lopped off half a V-8 to make an I-4, Pontiac did the same thing with the Tempest Trophy I-4.

c. In 1977 or so, one of the big car magazines ran a naturally-aspirated Scout Diesel down the dragstrip against… a runner from the local high school’s track team. The Scout won, but not by much. I really wish I could find a copy of that article.

Eric Moody
Eric Moody
1 year ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

C is something that a car YouTuber needs to recreate.

Is Travis
Is Travis
1 year ago

Good car shows have just as good of parking lots, always fun to wander before and after to your car.
Everyone has the good version out that day it seems.

Cuzn Ed
Cuzn Ed
1 year ago

I like the Ford Taunus a lot – good-lookin’ little car!
But that Iso is so beautiful it hurts. Holy cow.

World24
World24
1 year ago

I never knew about the Mercury trucks until I watch Jay Leno’s video where he talks with Goldburg about his cars. They end up bringing his wife into the video and the then go for a drive in their M-series that was a part of the wife’s family for years. They ended up restoring it years ago, which was pretty awesome.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
1 year ago

I was aware of Mercury trucks. What I wasn’t aware of was how extensive the lineup was. I’ve only ever seen pictures of M-100s, so I just never considered an M-250 or M-350 should also exist. Now I want a Super Duty Mercury.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
1 year ago

I can remember seeing a 1960’s Mercury truck — a ’67 or ’68 — in Indianapolis where I lived in the 1990s. It was a bit odd seeing one that far south; I would have expected to see one where I grew up in southern Michigan but never spotted them there.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
1 year ago

In an email to you guys a couple of months ago I suggested Mercury pickups for Mercury Monday.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

the standard SD33 was like 80 HP and got you to 60 in the mid twenty second range. the Turbo was the last of the scouts in general. the turbo only got you 20 more HP, but it added 50 ft-lbs of torque so it definitely outperformed the Emissions choked half V8 alternative and got the owner 20MPG in 1980, that was a very far cry from the barely double digit mpg numbers a 345 or 304 or even an inline 6 could get you in one of those scout tanks

JurassicComanche25
JurassicComanche25
1 year ago

David! You post the trunk contexts of a jurassic park explorer, and not the vehicle itself?? Come on, man! It’s like a burlesque show. You’re teasing, dude!

I mean, I know what it looks like, but still!

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
1 year ago

username checks out!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

You didn’t know about Mercury trucks? Next thing you’ll tell us you never heard of Fargo trucks either.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
1 year ago

I can’t tell for sure if that Scout is a Midas build or not. You should look those up. The Midas interiors are pretty neat, they even included a plaid headliner. Scouts and Travelalls both could get the treatment, and it was a great interior that also included options like adding a 3rd row to the Travelall.

Idiotking
Idiotking
1 year ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Doesn’t look like it. The big tell are the seat pillars: on Midas builds they were swiveling captain’s chairs. The plaid is not exactly common but was an option for normal Scouts. Some other common Midas details are a padded headliner with map lights, deep pile carpet, sometimes his & her sunroofs, and a fancier middle console. This was refreshed at some point so it’s hard to tell.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
1 year ago

I think you cracked the code, David – new cars with touch-only controls aren’t breaking new ground, they’re just implementing the same requirements document that was written for the Buick CRT touchscreen! Someone typed “touch screen functional specifications” into the GM standards search bar, some dusty reel-to-reel data backup in the basement coughed to life and spat out ::HVAC CONTROLS VIA TOUCH SCREEN:: —– ::GLOVE BOX CONTROL VIA TOUCH SCREEN:: —- and so on…

Paul B
Paul B
1 year ago

I think we should get a “re-badged American car for the Canadian market” monthly article.

The big 3 have done many over the years. Some glorious like the Mercury pickups, some less so, like the last Pontiac LeMans.

RataTejas
RataTejas
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul B

Acura EL, CSX, Grand Parisienne, Nissan X-Trail, Chevy Orlando, Buick Allure (which is a LaCrosse) but Lacrosse is Quebecois slang for spanking the monkey.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
1 year ago
Reply to  RataTejas

“The Buick LaCrosse. It feels so good to drive!”

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul B

Tempest you mean? The rebadged Corsica. Though the last LeMans did have Canadian-specific counterparts – under the Asüna and Passport brands in GM Canada.

Chrysler selling the Mitsubishi Galant as the Dodge & Eagle 2000GTX.

Nissan keeping the Qashqai name but calling it a Rogue Sport in the U.S.

Rata mentioned a couple models with no U.S. counterpart sold alongside, like Nissan also selling the Micra up north, or when the the Axxess lived on for a few years after its lone U.S. model year. And Hyundai’s initial pre-Excel run with the Pony and Stellar.

Mazda had a couple curious ones – the one-year-only Mazda 323 Neo coupe, but maybe the rarest which I only recently learned about was when Mazda sold a very small number of Kia-made versions of the Bongo, the Kia Besta, before the original MPV’s launch.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul B

+1 for the Beaumont SD!

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

That’s a nice turnout! Some beautiful cars there. I think that blue Mopar is a ’73 or ’74 Dart – I’m a little iffy on the taillights.

I like the converted International Scout. Maybe it’s my eyes, but the graphics on the door unfortunately appear to say ‘TURDO DIESEL’, at least from a short distance.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

That Scout isn’t converted; that’s how it was manufactured.

Angel "the Cobra" Martin
Angel "the Cobra" Martin
1 year ago

There used to be a 68 M-100 near me. It was turquois and white over black and it was beautiful. Guy bought it new and moved to the bay area to work at NUMMI. I told him that when he was ready, I’d buy it. He passed and the wife moved back to Canada taking the Merc back with her. Man I would have loved to buy that.

45
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x