1949 Baldwin-Mercury Special


1949 Baldwin-Mercury Special

1949 Baldwin-Mercury Special

Following the Baldwin-Payne Special, Willis Baldwin built this race car for use in SCCA’s modified classes on the short tracks of America. It competed from 1949 to 1959 and made it on the cover of Road & Track in May 1950.

For his second Special, Willis Baldwin used a conglomeration of Ford and Mercury parts in a competitive way. It later motivated many more people to create and race unique american specials, including Ferraris, Jaguars and Maseratis with V8 engines.

Starting from a 1946 Ford Frame, Baldwin removed the cross members and redesigned the chassis to be 14 inches shorter. He set the engine far back from its standard position, but kept the stock rigid suspension. The rest of the parts came from the Ford line including Mercury clutch, Mercury V8 and Ford steering rack.¹

The engine was custom built by Willis. Starting with a 59A bock, he bored and stroked the cylinders to get 284.4 in³. Attached to this were aluminum cylinder heads and an aluminum intake manifold. Furthermore Baldwin-designed twin-spark ignition and exhaust manifold were fitted.¹

It took Willis Baldwin 12 months to build this car. It was raced in Southern California before being sold to S&C Ford and owner Al Schalinger. Under him, it was raced by mechanic Sony Kennyon with great success until 1959. After an unfortunate accident due to rear axle failure, the Baldwin-Payne Special was nearly destroyed on New Year’s Day in 1960. Despite rolling several times both Sonny and the car were saved, but the hulk wasn’t resurrected until 1990.

Irv Dickson in Calfornia undertook the massive task of restoring the car with help from Sonny himself. Since then, the enthusiastic owner has continued to race the Baldwin-Payne Special. It made appearances at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours and various Monterey Historic Races.

Sources & Further Reading

1.Pace, Harold. Vintage American Road Racing Cars. Motorbooks: 2004.

1949 Baldwin-Mercury Special Gallery

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In Detail

type Racing Car
built at Santa Barbara, California, USA
engineers Willis Baldwin
production 1
engine 1946 Mercury V8 w/Edelbrock Cylinder Heads
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
block material Cast Iron w/Aluminum Cylinder Heads
valvetrain Tripple Stomberg 95 Carburetors
displacement 4660 cc / 284.4 in³
bore 84.1 mm / 3.312 in
stroke 104.8 mm / 4.125 in
compression 9.0:1
power 134.2 kw / 180 bhp @ 4000 rpm
specific output 38.63 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 220.32 bhp per tonne
redline 5000
body / frame Steel & Aluminum Body over Modified 1946 Mercury Frame
driven wheels RWD w/1948 Ford Differential
front tires 6.00-16
rear tires 6.50-16
front brakes Drums
rear brakes Drums
f suspension Rigid Axle
r suspension Live Axle
curb weight 817 kg / 1800 lbs
wheelbase 2540.0 mm / 100 in
transmission 1939 Ford 3-Speed
top speed ~209.17 kph / 130 mph