Minnesota man sells one-of-a-kind 1956 Mercury idea automobile to Florida museum – Bemidji Pioneer

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Minn. — Suffice it to say the outcomes of a Jan. 14 public sale in Kissimmee, Florida, weren’t consistent with Tom Maruska’s expectations.

He had invested 1000’s of hours and a substantial sum of cash to revive a one-of-a-kind 1956 Mercury XM-Turnpike Cruiser idea automobile that had drawn massive crowds of admirers throughout the nation on the auto present circuit in its day. Within the years that adopted, nonetheless, the automobile fell into neglect. The present automobile was a rusty mess by the point

Maruska obtained his fingers on it and commenced the laborious means of bringing it again to life


As Maruska, who lives in St. Louis County, ready to take the reinvigorated chrome-laden automobile to a nationally recognized basic automobile public sale, he speculated that the one-off idea automobile might fetch $1 million or extra.

Man standing beside a car.

Tom Maruska talks Sept. 29 concerning the 1956 Mercury XM-Turnpike Cruiser he spent three years restoring.

Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth Information Tribune

However that was to not be.

The bidding started at a proposed $1 million and ceased at $350,000, nicely beneath the obligated reserve value for the automobile.

On the conclusion, the auctioneer commented: “We’re a great distance from the home there, boys.”

The expertise confirmed misgivings Maruska had going into the public sale.

“They promised me a great place and promotional assist. However they did completely nothing for the automobile,” he mentioned. “They put it on their web site as if it was a Corvette or a Mustang or one thing that was constructed within the tens of 1000’s. It was positioned between on a regular basis automobiles.”

“And the identical factor on-site down there on the public sale. They’d it subsequent to a used Porsche and a customized Charger,” he mentioned.

Car sitting in a driveway.

The 1956 Mercury XM-Turnpike Cruiser featured tailfins, chrome exhaust pipes coming via the quarter panel, and brake lights behind it roof in addition to on the tailfins.

Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth Information Tribune

As for the precise public sale, Maruska mentioned the tumbling value spoke for itself.

“When my automobile went up on the block, I don’t know they even had an actual bid on it, as a result of the home has the proper to bid as much as the reserve quantity, and so they by no means even obtained near the reserve quantity,” he mentioned.

A pair weeks later, Maruska had the automobile shipped again to his house store in Lakewood Township.

On reflection, Maruska mentioned, “It was the improper public sale to have that automobile at.”

Maruska mentioned his first selection would have been to take the automobile to an public sale run by RM Sotheby’s in Phoenix. However once they supplied to take the idea automobile at a reserve value of not more than $300,000, he felt that sum was just too low.

For Maruska, the story has a contented ending nonetheless.

Car interior.

The inside of Tom Maruska’s 1956 Mercury. Observe the distinctive butterfly roof home windows that robotically open and shut with the doorways to supply elevated head clearance getting into or exiting the automobile.

Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth Information Tribune

4 completely different events contacted him, expressing curiosity within the Mercury idea automobile after the unsuccessful public sale, and two made what he believed have been acceptable gives.

Maruska didn’t need to go into particulars, saying the automobile bought for “an undisclosed quantity” to the American Muscle Automotive Museum in Melbourne, Florida.

Man opening a car hood.

Tom Maruska opens the hood of his 1956 Mercury on Sept. 29 to indicate its 292-cubic-inch engine.

Steve Kuchera / 2022 file / Duluth Information Tribune

When requested if the sale broke the $1 million mark, he mentioned: “It didn’t make $1 million, but it surely obtained shut sufficient that I used to be pleased with it.”

Maruska additionally expressed his pleasure that the automobile went to a museum, the place will probably be on public show, reasonably than sitting principally out of sight in a personal assortment.

One other plus is {that a} non-public sale not involving an public sale home will save each the customer and vendor 10% fee charges, even because the automobile makes a return journey to Florida in an enclosed trailer.

Maruska has now accomplished 22 automobile restorations. However the 72-year-old acknowledged the newest was his most bold.

He has no plans to decelerate and is presently engaged on a 1964 Amphicar, in addition to a 1965 Corvette.

“I’ve obtained to maintain going. In any other case, I’d simply be sitting round, doing nothing. And I like to remain energetic,” Maruska mentioned.

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