Rodding Around
By Brian Brennan
red gear icon Iconic Custom, Iconic Price

Photography Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

Those of us who have been around the rodding world know full well the significance of the Hirohata Merc. It’s a ’51 Merc Club Coupe that was purchased by Bob Hirohata and taken directly to the Barris Brothers Custom Shop (Sam and George) to be turned into what would become an iconic piece of rodding history. It should, as it is one of just 30 various cars listed on the National Historic Vehicle Register.

Many of us most recently had the opportunity to see the Hirohata Merc while attending the Grand National Roadster Show, literally fresh from the most current Mecum Auction (Kissimmee, Florida) where it sold for a record price to its new owner Beau Boeckmann of Galpin Motors.

As for the price, well that’s a whole other subject. The gavel dropped at $1,950,000 (fees brought the final price to $2,145,000) on the Hirohata Merc (Lot S152). Now that’s a sale price. (Editor’s note: I was on the Mecum stage the last time an iconic hot rod brought big money and that was the McMullen ’32 Ford roadster at approximately $850,000. —B.B.)

Rodding historian Pat Ganahl has written at length on this custom, so for those looking for additional “backstory” start with anything authored by Ganahl. We know of several, and I’m sure there are more, articles Ganahl has authored while at Rod & Custom magazine. For instance, Aug. ’89, Dec. ’89, and June ’90 issues. To add to this, you can also peruse The Rodder’s Journal for two stories that I am aware of in No. 5 (1996) and No. 8 (1998).

For more info on Mecum Auctions visit

Hirohata Merc interior
Hirohata Merc under the hood
A dark gray hot rod painted by Mick's Paint side profile
red gear icon Taking Home the Gold

Photography BY Brian Brennan

For Mick’s Paint, located in Pomona, California, “taking home the gold” at the 2022 Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) takes on a new meaning. More than a dozen participants had their vehicles painted by Mick’s Paint, with each of them awarded one of various awards.

Mick is no stranger to the GNRS, having painted three past America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award winners; in 2000 with Chuck Svatos’ “0032,” in 2012 with Bill Lindig’s “Indy Speedster,” and in 2017 with Bruce Wanta’s “Mulholland Speedster.”

The business comprises three divisions: the hot rod shop (fabrication and paint), a full restoration shop, and a third shop dedicated to a private customer.

Radical Hardtop/Sedan 55-59: First, Bob Matranga ’55 Chevrolet Bel Air
Mild Hardtop/Sedan 60-69: First, Bob Matranga ’64 Ford Galaxie 500
Hardtop/Sedan 70-79: First, Bob Florine, ’72 Plymouth Scamp
Street Touring 65-79: Second, Joe Rogan, ’69 Chevrolet Nova
Unlimited: First, Geoff Stilwell, ’27 Ford roadster
Outstanding Engineered: Geoff Stillwell, ’27 Ford roadster
Al Slonaker Award: Pat Gauntt ’32, Ford coupe
Slonaker Achievement Plaque: Pat Gauntt, ’32 Ford coupe
Outstanding Individual Display: Bob Matranga, ’55 Chevy Bel Air
Blackie Gejeian Memorial Award: Pat Gauntt, ’32 Ford coupe
Sweepstakes Custom: Bob Matranga, ’55 Chevy Bel Air
AMBR Achievement Plaque: Bruce Wanta, ’34 Edsel 40 Speedster
Modern Rodding Award: Bruce Fortie, ’32 coupe

For more info on Mick’s Paint, call (310) 947-6727 or visit

A silver hot rod painted by Mick's Paint side profile
A soft yellow hot rod painted by Mick's Paint side profile
Modern Rodding
VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 19 • 2022