Big Al's Featured Car's
Cherry Bomb, 40 Rules!
Owned by Nick Crea
Pictures & Text by Dufus Garbonzo

There are some that say the days of ‘Kustoms,’ ‘Kemps’ or ‘Lead Sleds’ are long gone. We know better. And in answer to those Nay Sayers, we just smile and point to long time hot rodder Nick Crea and his ‘Cherry Bomb.’ This sweet ride has all the elements of a great sled and more.

The biggest thing about Cherry Bomb’s looks is its origins. And if you are having problems identifying this kool ride, think Mercury instead of Ford. (Yeah, it kinda looks like a ’40 Ford but doesn’t really) That explains the grill taking off in a different direction. Now that you know it’s a ’40 Merc, the other pieces will fall into place. But don’t try to keep score on all the body mods or you’ll go nuts.

That’s because Jerry Koenigsmark of Jerry’s House of Kolors did a ton of work to Cherry Bomb that started off with the big ticket, pie-cut hardtop. A whopping 12 inches was whacked out of the rear of the roof while the front got a comparatively less cut of eight inches. On paper, that would make for a nasty set of proportions but one look and you know it’s right. The body mods continued with a welded and peaked hood that runs all the way up the hood, unlike most other peak jobs. The door handles were shaved as was the rear deck lid. Another big job was the molding of all four fenders to the body – no small task indeed. The running boards were also molded into the body and fenders. The extensive molding work also includes flairs at the bottom of the doors and quarter panels to make everything match. Take a second look at all this work and you’ll appreciate it even more.

Jerry didn’t stop there, making a custom rear roll pan, throwing on a set of modified ’46 Ford bumpers (with the front one lowered just two inches for effect) and topping off his roof-chop work with a conversion to hardtop. That included making new window frames out of aluminum then chroming them. The taillights are molded into a pair of unknown origin bumper guards for a completely smooth look. In fact, we had to look twice to see the lights. Up front, that’s a stock Merc grille with a new center piece. To add one more ‘what is that?’ factor, the stock side chrome was shortened on the hood.

When there are that many body mods on a Kustom Merc, a lot of folks say there are only two choices for paint – flat black primer or candy apple red. Nick went with the red. PPG supplied the Rose Metallic basecoat and the Radiance candy red urethane and Joe Koenigsmark laid it down perfectly.

Inside, the Bomb has all the necessary pieces for Kool. First and foremost is the tuck and roll upholstery done up in burgundy and ivory. It’s not the usual naugahyde but ultra-leather that covers the modified stock front seat and completely custom made rear seat. The fine stitch work was done by Sullivan Upholstery from New London, Ohio and includes the two-color door panels. The dash was smoothed over and Studebaker gauge pods were installed with Stewart Warner gauges. And if you’re wondering where you can get one of those kool, two-tone steering wheels, well, that was custom made to match the dash and sits atop a GM tilt column. Another custom touch is the lower dash panel that was made for the Vintage Air A/C vents and other controls. Brinks Rod Shop installed the Ron Francis wiring and tossed in a CD player with two speakers for tunes.

Underneath, the Cherry Bomb utilizes a stock frame that’s seen its share of mods. Up front, there is a comfy Mustang II IFS with power steering on Air Ride bags done by Boris at Street Machinery in Cleveland. The front was lowered six inches as was the back. A nine-inch Ford rear end with disc brakes was set in via a four link and two more Air Ride bags. Rolling stock is BF Goodrich 225 x15 wide white tires on 15 X 5 wheels with classic Caddie hubcaps all the way around. For getting the Bomb down the road, Nick chose a brand new, Ford 302 crate motor hooked up to an automatic overdrive tranny. A set of Cobra valve covers and GT headers are the few cosmetic changes under the checkered hood

Cherry Bomb has some history of its own. Ron Gunda chopped it back in the ‘60s. Nick, a lifelong car guy and member of The Marodders Hot Rod Club, took 10 years to finish this sled. It’s already won some nice accolades such as Best paint by PPG and Meguiars Magnificent Masterpiece.

Nowadays, it looks like this car will need a trailer. Not to hide in, but to haul home all the trophies it’s winning – further proof Cherry Bomb is blowing away those who say Kustoms have seen their day.