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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Mercury Comet is an automobile that was produced by Mercury from 1962–1969 and 1971-1977 — variously as either a compact or an intermediate car.
The Comet was initially based on the compact Ford Falcon, then on the intermediate Ford Fairlane and finally on the compact Ford Maverick. As a Mercury, early Comets received better grade interior trim than concurrent Falcons, and a slightly longer wheelbase.
Relationship to the Edsel
The Comet was originally planned as an Edsel model. Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on November 19, 1959. However, production of 1960 Edsels continued until late November. The Comet was reassigned to the Lincoln-Mercury division to sell at Mercury-Comet dealerships, where it was marketed as a stand-alone product for 1960 and 1961 as the Comet without any Mercury divisional badging.
Developed concurrently with the Ford Falcon, early pre-production photographs of the sedan show a car remarkably close to the Comet that emerged, but with a split grille following the pattern established by Edsel models. Early Ford styling mules for the station wagon model carried the Edsel name as well.
At their debut, the split grille was replaced by one more in keeping with Mercury's design themes. However, the canted elliptical taillights, first seen on the Edsel prototype, were used and carried the "E" (Edsel) part number on them. While the short lived 1960 Edsels used elliptical shaped taillights, the lenses used on both cars differed in length and width. Certain other parts from the 1959 Edsel parts bin, including the parking lights and dashboard knobs, were used on the first-year Comet. Keys for the 1960 and 1961 Comets were shaped like Edsel keys, with the center bar of the "E" removed to form a "C".
The "comet" name was trademarked to Cotner-Bevington as the Comet Coach Company, building ambulance and hearse commercial vehicles. Ford bought the name in 1959.
From 1960-1965, the Comet was based on the Ford Falcon platform (stretched 5 in (130 mm) for sedans, but not for wagons). The 1960-1963 Comets share a similar basic shape. These are sometimes referred to as the "round body" Comets. For 1962 and 1963, the Comet shared a considerable number of body and mechanical parts with the short-lived Fairlane-based Mercury Meteor intermediate.
The 1964 Comet was redesigned with a much more square shape, though it was still built on the same unibody as the 1963 model. Its basic lines were shared with the new Falcon, but the front grille used styling similar to that of the Lincoln Continental. Along with the redesign, the model designations were changed. The performance version was known as the Cyclone, replacing the previous S-22. Then in descending order of trim levels were the Caliente, 404 and 202, replacing the previous Custom and base models. The 2-door station wagon bodystyle was discontinued. The top-of-the-line station wagon continued to be known as the Villager. The base 144 cid six engine was dropped and the 170 cid six became the new base engine. The 260 V8 was available at the beginning of the production run, with the new 289 being available mid-year. Due to the success of the full size Ford and Mercury "fastback" roofline introduced in mid-1963, the Falcon and Comet 2-door hardtops got a similar roofline with sharper corners.
For 1964, Ford produced about 50 ultra-high performance lightweight Comet Cyclones, equipped with their racing two-carburetor 427 engine, similar to their cousin, the Ford Thunderbolt. To avoid competing with each other, the Thunderbolts ran in super stock on 7-inch (180 mm) tires, but the Cyclones were modified to run in A/FX on 10-inch (250 mm) tires, where they were as dominant as the Thunderbolts were in super stock. Drivers included Ronnie Sox, Don Nicholson and Wild Bill Shrewsberry in conjunction with Jack Chrisman. Shrewsberry still owns his original 427 Comet in Caliente trim.
1965 Mercury Comet Caliente Two-Door Hardtop
For 1965, the Comet received updated styling front and rear (including stacked headlights, similar to what Pontiacs and Cadillacs would use at the same time). The base 6-cylinder engine was increased from 170 cid to 200 cid. Still using a single-barrel carburetor, it produced 120 hp (89 kW) at 4400 rpm. The base 8-cylinder engine was increased from 260 to 289 cid and, using a 2-barrel carburetor, it produced 200 hp (150 kW) at 4400 rpm. The standard transmission continued as a column-shifted 3-speed manual transmission. The optional automatic was changed to a "Merc-O-Matic" 3-speed automatic transmission (essentially a Ford C4 transmission). The 289 V8 was available in three horsepower ratings, base 2-barrel 200 hp, 4-barrel 225 hp (168 kW) and the premier driveline option was the 289 cubic inch, 271 hp (202 kW) high-performance engine and four-speed manual transmission found on the Ford Mustang.
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