MEET THE CREW

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE
AND LOWER A CUSTOM CAR.


Legendary cars don’t build themselves. Particularly when they’re period custom cars or traditional hot rods. It takes a talented cast of cast of characters working as a dedicated team. Which is precisely what you’ll find at Mercury Charlie’s. A crew that cares deeply about keeping old cars on the road and making automotive dreams come true. Jalopy lovers. Radical-custom lovers. Salt-lake racing fans. Period purists and hardcore hot rod revivalists. Craftsman who are building custom cars and hot rods the only way they know how. Passionately, and with deep respect for those who came before them.

For central Texas legends like Gary Howard and Vernon McKean, who set the custom bar for a generation to follow. For Jimmie Vaughan, who’s a custom car and blues guitarist virtuoso. For Rod Powell, Sam Foose, Lee Pratt and Gene Winfield, who helped define the meaning of the term, “timeless”. These are all the individuals who together set the bar for Charlie and his crew. Whose cues and influences have shaped the custom-car hobby. Charlie will be the first to tell you that it’s an honor to honor the period-custom greats and proudly carry the tradition into the future. But it’s no solo mission. Teamwork is everything.

So without further delay, meet the team.



CHARLIE RUNNELS,
PERIOD PERFECTIONIST,
CUSTOM CUSTODIAN
CHIEF STORYTELLER
HEAD HONCHO
NICKNAME: “MERCURY” CHARLIE

CHARLIE BUILDS TRADITIONAL HOT RODS
AND PERIOD CUSTOMS, PERIOD.

Ask Mercury Charlie about pretty much anything, and you’ll hear a great story. But if you ask him about hot rods and custom cars, you’re in for a real treat. To say he’s a walking encyclopedia of old cars gives encyclopedias too much credit. Charlie eats, sleeps and lives old school hot rods and customs. Custom tricks and performance tweaks. Gow jobs. Jalopies. Barn finds and bench racing. Charlie knows every trick in the book and you can bet your bippy he’s used more than a few of ‘em at one time or another.

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WILL PULLEY,
SHOP MANAGER | NICKNAME: PAPA WHEELIE

If you ever purchase a tape measure and you darkly suspect it’s off by one or two thousandths of an inch, compare it to Will Pulley’s eye.

Stance. Proportion. Backspacing. Chops. You name it, Will’s eye is better than any spirit level and it’s a secret sauce that comes in quite handy around here. It’s as predictable as taxes and cheap-wine hangovers. But enough about that. Let’s get to know Will a little better.

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TIM MONROE,
SHOP FOREMAN | NICKNAME: CHIEF

Tim’s first hot rod was a ’28 Ford Model A Coupe. It ran a ’73 454 that was donated from his granddad’s GMC truck, had inverted headers, and was guided by a steering wheel passed down from his great-granddad’s Model T.

Its paint job was applied by none other than Tim’s brother with an assist from their nephew. There it is again. That family connection.

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RAY SILKWOOD,
HEAD WRENCH | NICKNAME: MR. RAY

On a purely technical level, Ray Silkwood knows it all without acting like someone who knows it all. He’s a proverbial “Rain man” of obscure mechanical intelligence without the awkward social skills part. Modest, approachable, and humble are the third, fourth, and fifth words that come to mind once “mechanical” and “genius” are out of the way.

Which makes Ray about as rare as a Tucker center headlight assembly.

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ERIKA FREUDENSPRUNG,
PROJECT MANAGER | PEOPLE PERSON | NICKNAME: SWEET “E”

Erika has been naturally attracted to vintage cars for as long as she can remember. Her daily is a Lincoln Cosmopolitan Capri that she and Tim, our shop foreman, rescued from the weeds behind a mechanic’s shop in South Austin.

It was missing chrome and its seats, but Erika and Tim saw potential where most people saw only weeds and a rusting hulk. Within three weeks of dragging her home, the old girl was up and running, seats and all. Fast-forward five years of sweat equity and you’ve got Erika’s pride and joy.

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TINA HALL,
AUTOMOTIVE INTERIOR DESIGNER | NICKNAME: STITCH

Tina’s first car was a Big Wheel. She won it in a race put on by her local Gemco in California, where she grew up, and she had to beat out a parking lot full of other kids to claim the prize.
So, you could say she’s been a street racer from her earliest days. Or at the very least, a department store parking-lot racer.

Her dad was a well-known car painter and her uncle, an upholstery guy. So Tina was exposed to the concept of automobile as canvas from the get-go.

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BRIAN DAVIS,
PAINT AND BODY MAN | NICKNAME: [REFUSES THEM]

Brian’s first hot rod was a 455, 4-speed, Trans Am. “Wow” is right. It was given to him by his father on Brian’s eighteenth birthday. But the real gift wasn’t just a car.

A passion was passed for one to the next generation on that fateful day.

Brian’s passion for performance cars began right then and there, and eventually lead Brian to here and now. Mercury Charlie’s fourth bay, where primer yields to the will of a man who has developed a master’s touch.

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CHRIS SLUBAR,
RESIDENT HORSEPOWER WRANGLER | NICKNAME: SPEED

It seems both fitting and ironic that Chris scored his first hit of speed from a Del Rio used car dealership that was later revealed to be an illicit drug operation. The car was a 1965 Malibu SS. Chris was 17 at the time. There’s no question who got the better end of that deal.

He still has the that car and has owned it for over half his life.

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