Starting Over Modern Rodding
Brian Brennan
Is There an Electric Hot Rod in Your Future?
By Brian Brennan | Photography by Drew Phillips


or those of us living on the West Coast we are now aware the governor of California has determined by 2035 there will be no more freshly minted internal combustion engine gas-powered cars or trucks sold within the state. Experience has taught us as California goes, with regard to clean air emissions, other states aren’t too far behind. How does that impact our hot rods? We will still have them but the very nature of our hobby dictates that we be ready to change and adapt in order to move forward.

That got me thinking about a patina-covered 1949 Mercury that was on display in the Optima Batteries booth at the 2018 SEMA Show. I should have realized something was up by the name attributed to it, “1949 Mercury EV Derelict.” My first gaze went to the interior. I see what appears to be an iPad mounted to the dash where the factory gauges once resided. An immediate look under the hood yielded the “ah ha” moment. Before my baby blues I see the word “ICON” boldly cut into the “valve covers” of the electric motor (or is it engine?) powered 1949 Merc resting there in full patina.

1949 Mercury EV Derelict on road
1949 Mercury EV Derelict engine closeup
1949 Mercury EV Derelict on road
1949 Mercury EV Derelict engine closeup
The company ICON, known for building recreations of yesteryear nameplates with uncompromising attention to detail and the use of technology, is currently at the top of its game. You may have seen one of their designs, such as the ICON FJ (vintage Toyota), ICON BR (vintage Bronco), ICON TR (vintage Advance Design, 1948-1952, Chevrolet/GMC pickup). In this case, it’s the ICON Derelict series where our 1949 Merc came from. To ICON, the smallest details are never forgotten. The 1949 Mercury EV Derelict was commissioned by a longtime ICON client with the express purpose to push both the boundaries of design and engineering.

ICON did what we hot rodders do so often … disassembled the body, replaced all the rubber, added insulation and sound-deadening material, and then reassembled it, all the while keeping the patina look. A familiar name from our industry, Art Morrison Enterprises, received the nod for the four-wheel-independent chassis complete with Brembo brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, and coilover shocks.

The powertrain was a co-engineering exercise between ICON and Stealth EV. The dual electric motor, transmission-less design provides 470 lb-ft of torque and the equivalent of 400 hp, with no shifts all the way up to the Merc’s 120-mph top speed. A full Tesla Performance 85kWh battery assembly is distributed throughout the vehicle to create ideal weight balance. It’s capable of an estimated 150- to 200-mile range and has 1.5-hour full recharge capability. ICON positioned a CHAdeMO 125A fast-charger plug behind the tilting front license plate frame and also converted the original gas filler into a Tesla supercharger plug to expedite in-transit charging. This is both an expensive and technologically challenging exercise for mere mortals like us hot rodders. For ICON this was a challenge well within their capabilities (clearly) but in time the technology and capabilities of an EV hot rod will become more along the lines of something you and I can tackle.

While space has run out on this month’s editorial you can rest assured, we will be coming back with a more in-depth look at EV hot rods. Maybe we can get with ICON and have a deeper look into the 1949 Merc Derelict!

Modern Rodding | November/December 2020