Wednesday, September 15, 2010

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1963 Mercury Comet Custom

I don't know what it is about Falcons that keeps me coming back to them. They aren't particularly exciting, aren't revolutionary in their design or engineering, and are still plentiful on the roads. Perhaps what I like about the Falcon is its honesty, with a general lack of gingerbread and a rugged simplicity built to meet the needs of those who wanted economical family transportation in a compact package. The earliest Falcons were only about half a foot longer than a modern Focus sedan, slightly wider and actually weighed less. My first experience with a Falcon was a ride in a blue 1964 Futura convertible once owned by a friend of my dad.
So you get it now. I like Falcons.

So why did I go through that spiel if this isn't a Falcon? Clearly it's a Mercury Comet. But take a good long close look at that profile. Kind of looks like a Falcon, doesn't it?
That's because the Comet is a gussied-up Falcon with quad lights and mini tailfins. The powertrain was the same, chassis was effectively the same. Interior was probably a little nicer. Some may find the Comet to be more stylish. I personally find certain aspects of its styling to be gimmicky and generally trying too hard.
The Comet was something of a bastard child at Ford. Originally intended to be a compact Edsel, the Comet was hastily redrawn (basically they just lopped off the horsecollar grille) when the entire Edsel division blew up in Ford's face. The Comet didn't even have an actual make and model going into its inaugural year, 1960. It was just sold as the Comet. It wouldn't officially become a Mercury until 1962. By 1963 the new-for-'60 body was showing its age, despite Ford having done a credible job modernizing the car's rear end to get rid of the dated slanty taillights and integrated fins. It was time for a refresh.
This particular example is equipped with the 260 Cyclone V8, the first year this engine was offered in the Comet. 1963 was also the first year for the convertible body style, with 13,111 copies sold (7,354 of those were Custom convertibles like this one). It's in good daily-driver condition with all correct badging and trim, and the original 1963-issue California black plates. Unlike many cars of this era, it hasn't had a wheel upgrade, instead rolling on the stock steelies with poverty caps. Interior appears to be dark blue vinyl with a split-bench front seat (I believe you had to get the S-22 sport package if you wanted bucket seats and a console). Exterior color is Cascade Blue with a white top. It's a nice example of a reasonably loaded, mid-level Comet convertible from an important model year.

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