For many of us, we follow a progression of project cars and styles. For many of the ‘middle aged’ guys, it likely started with the lowered mini-trucks, progressing to water-cooled Volkswagen, then 80s Japanese imports when they really started to take off. During this time, drifting was just getting started in the foothills of Japan.
As we got older, raised families and accumulated some disposable income, we graduated to 60s American muscle. That could have been Fords, Mustangs or Mopars but some of us graduated to Cadillacs. This progression defines the exact path that Kyle Osbourne from Missouri took starting at age 12. However, his story doesn’t end there. While going through his ‘Cadillac’ phase, Kyle was introduced to, old-school’ 49-51 Mercs.
After learning about the 49-51 Mercs, he promptly sold his Cadillac and started the hunt for his Merc project car. After several months of searching, he stumbled across what looked to be the perfect project. It was a flat-black 1951, with a brand new 302 and an air ride. Kyle is not a big fan of engine work. Before the auction was over, he headed out to check out the car. Arriving at 3 A.M., he waited till a little after daybreak to go to the front door. Long story short, Kyle left Colorado Springs with the Merc on his trailer.
Arriving back in Missouri, he started enjoying the car and planning for the project. He had blown most of his funds to buy the car so the work he envisioned was going to have to wait.
Kustom Kemps of America is a contest that raffles off a chop by famed customizer, Bill Hines. Kyle learned about the contest and promptly entered. Some time later, he learned that he had won. However, he thought it was a joke and hung up the phone when they called for the first couple of days.
After sending the car off for the chop, Kyle thought that everything was just getting started and that he would have his dream car soon enough. That would be too easy though. There was a big problem when the chop was completed and the car was given back to him. Kyle is 6 feet 2 inches tall. The roof of his car had just been chopped, too much. He did not fit into the car.
Many people would probably have given up and started over. Not Kyle. He started looking for a donor vehicle and friends who could help him with the project. Once a vehicle was found and everything was in place, he started the roof swap with the help of a friend. Within a few days, the roof was done and he could get on with everything. However, that was not to be the case.
A full year had passed between when the roof was chopped and when the car was painted. After the golden paint was applied and Kyle was putting all of the trim on the car, one of the worst possible things that could happen, took place. When closing the trunk lid, Kyle had forgotten that he had not yet put on the trim. Slam!!!! The closing trunk lid had managed to leave a huge crack on both sides of the rear body panel. Unfortunately, This was not going to be an easy fix. To fix the issue correctly, about 80% of the car was going to have to be repainted.
Upon the completion of the second paint job, things really started happening quickly. Everything just came together. Glass was cut to perfection, the engine was detailed, and wiring was installed. The finished product is pretty much what you see here.
Kyle is very happy with the way his project turned out. Kyle says “I wanted to build a clean, classy-looking ride that had the flow and killer lines that all the leadsleds that I liked had. The look of a kustom to me is not radical and a ton of mods that a 5-year could tell was done. They have to flow from front to back; every modification, line and shape has to work together.”
After looking at Kyle’s project, I would say he hit a home run on this one. The finished product is nothing short of stunning.