Excerpts reproduced with kind permission of Custom Car magazine

One thing John was dead set on was sunken ’59 Caddy tail lights.  Paul figured that if John wanted Caddy lamps at the back, he ought to have them at the front as well, so a pair were duly tunnelled into the front wings.  The final touch was to substitute some English headlamp rings to reduce the goggle-eyed look and to delete the heavy factory vent trims on the sides of the bonnet and make some new, recessed and open-ended ones in stainless steel that better flow with the body.  Having done all this work on the front end, the rear needed something to jazz it up, so Paul again returned to his bumper stash and pulled out a pair of Packard over-riders, figuring they would return the compliment the Buick parts paid to the front end.  Naturally, they weren’t just bolted on, but were turned 90 degrees and recessed into wire-edged cut outs in the rear roll panel.  The same was done with the number plate aperture, and the number plate itself now pulls out to reveal a tow bar behind – one of John’s requirements from the start.


Inspired by the work of George Barris, Irishman John Hennessey commissioned Burnham Autos to build his own ‘dream truck’, and what could be more apt than a Mercury as the starting point?


You’d have to have been living under a stone to not have noticed the huge rise in popularity of early Yank pick-up trucks in the UK over the last few years.  And while the whole custom truck thing is experiencing a resurgence in the States right now, over here, by far and away the most popular look is, for want of a better phrase, ‘hillbilly hauler’.

A few have been worked over into very presentable street rods, but very few have gone down the full custom route.  And you can count the number of Mercury versions on Ford’s venerable ‘ute’ on one hand, maybe even one finger.

‘I’m afraid it needs something else...’” recalls Paul with a laugh, “the roof looks a bit heavy.” Yep, you guessed it, that something else turned out to be a roof chop.

And once they got into that, some of Paul’s trademark ‘embryo gutters’ were a natural.  Job done, the truck was once again ready for paint.  Then the ‘phone rang.  “What do you think Paul, suicide doors would be a nice touch, wouldn’t they?”  Paul took it all in his stride, mainly because John was right, suicide doors would be a nice touch.

So off came the door skins they had already shaved and repaired and, six days of head scratching and hard graft later, the truck and suicide doors.  “There’s a tone of new metal gone into the b-posts and the cab back to strengthen it all, but they work a treat now.” 

Wheels are 18 and 20-inch Boyd Ultimate 5’s, which Paul had made specifically to fit the truck after using just the tyres to mock the whole thing up in the first place.  That sounds an odd way of doing things, but actually makes perfect sense as it’s much easier to get billet wheels made up with the right offsets than it is to get custom tyres made!  2 ½-inch(-ish) chop is obvious, but did you notice the extended bonnet sides to better flow into the cowl?


We’ve all heard the expression ‘one thing leads to another’, and indeed it did. John soon realised he had a kindred spirit in Paul, himself also a huge Barris fan.  Investigation showed that the rear end also needed attention as the springs had flattened and the axle was touching the frame, so a four bar and another pair of ‘bags was deemed the way to go there, together with a Baer disc brake conversion on the 9 –inch axle.

Go ahead George, make my day. 

The glovebox of John’s truck now bears the legend: “Approved by, yes sir, George Barris” And, as a joke, the iconic customeriser couldn’t resist adding a little steering wheel and an arrow pointing to it being on the ‘wrong’ side.