Later this summer, the 1965 Mercer-Cobra concept will be offered at the RM Auctions’ Monterey event. When this sports car concept was being promoted in the U.S. in the 1960s, it was far from being conventional. It was conceptualized in 1963 and was completed in 1965.
Esquire magazine had commissioned ex-Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner to create so-called “revival cars,” which each interprets vintage brands and their signature cues into what was considered a modern design back then.
Four designs were drafted, but the Mercer was the only one chosen by the American Copper Development Association to serve as a showcase for its wares. Exner was given the funding and the task for this design to be built using plenty of brass and copper.
In 1964, Exner said in an interview with Automobile Quarterly that the goal is to make an “interesting and stimulating design” instead of one that simply follows the ‘formula’ of a flat, low snout with a horizontal air scoop and a squared-off bobtailed rear.”
When Exner made the XNR show car for Plymouth in 1959, he had followed some aspect of the Basically, the Mercer is a heavily re-skinned Shelby Cobra 289 — VIN CSX 2451. To fit the measurements of Exner’s design, the car was stretched.
Its wheelbase was increased to 108 inches and its overall length was extended to 118. Even if Ghia had been a longtime partner of Exner and had assisted in building several of his other revival car ideas, the Italian design firm was facing some financial challenges while the Mercer project was ongoing. Because of this, Exner asked Turin coachbuilder Sibona-Basano to finalize its construction.