SEMA Show Highlights

ICON Debuts “Derelict” ’49 Mercury Coupe With Pioneering EV Conversion

By SEMA Editors

IconICON debuted a ’49 Mercury EV Derelict project in the Optima Batteries booth #20323 at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

ICON debuted a ’49 Mercury EV Derelict project in the Optima Batteries booth #20323 at the 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The purpose behind ICON’s Derelict line is to celebrate and preserve the original patina and exterior trim on the car. This ’49 Mercury Coupe was sourced from the original owners. ICON forensically disassembled the body, replaced all rubber, added insulation and sound-deadening products everywhere, then reassembled it in a manner that tried to make it look like nothing had been touched. A four-wheel independent chassis was developed with Art Morrison Enterprises alongside Brembo brakes.

The powertrain is all-modern and was a co-engineering exercise between ICON and Stealth EV. The dual electric motor, transmission-less design provides 470 lb.-ft. of freight-train 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 array is strategically fit throughout the vehicle for exceptional weight balance. It is capable of an estimated 150–200-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. A pioneering EV management system protects the batteries from overcharging and also provides thermal management and a host of capabilities and protections.

Since the electric motors fit where the old transmission once resided, ICON co-founder/lead designer Jonathan Ward thought it would be fun to reference vintage V-8 speed equipment. The custom aluminum “engine” actually houses the battery controllers and a few of the Tesla modules—designed in a traditional V-8 array with a polished and media-blasted finish for a decidedly vintage aesthetic. Then ICON had custom cloth-braided sheathing made for the wires under the hood, referencing the original wiring loom.

In the interior, ICON wanted to keep the materials vintage-appropriate and light. Fabric from Knoll Textiles and hides from Moore & Giles and Relicate Leather realized the exact design that Ward envisioned. Power windows operate via the original analog window cranks; tapping twice on the driver’s side drops or raises all windows at once. While all gauges are modern digital Andromeda, the design strongly references the original analog units, down to the typeface and background. Other significantly redesigned elements include in-dash A/C vents (not to mention electric A/C), and all custom switches and bezels are inspired by the originals, but support modern components and functions.

The ’49 Mercury EV Derelict was commissioned by a longtime client, who gave ICON the go-ahead to push the boundaries of design and engineering.