Opportunities to photograph curbside classics are few and far between here in Michigan, because most of our 1962 model cars, like this Comet, had a hot date with the tinworm back in, oh, let’s say 1964. Therefore, much of my car spotting fun does occur at our numerous summer car shows. As the owner of a Corvair and a Dart wagon, I enjoy seeing atypical classics like this Comet still hanging around.
I don’t know how I’ve avoided owning a Comet. My personal choice would be a ’65 Villager, but I sometimes find myself longing for one of these early ones. They’re mechanically similar to my ’65 Mustang, so no big surprises there. Mechanical parts are readily available, and they get decent gas mileage (maybe, see below). The interiors were early 60s metal-clad cool. Look at that dashboard! I personally love the vast bright red expanses that are so stark that modern drivers would pull over and start crying for a gadget. Why can’t we get back to this kind of simplicity?
I’m pretty sure this one has a radio delete panel, even if it does have a modern radio under the dash. The 100 mph speedometer is most likely a dozen plus mph optimistic, but who cares? This is an economy car. Who’s not digging the necker knob here? With roughly five turns lock to lock, maybe it’s not as cheesy as it seems.
Regardless of the glamorous images detailed in the brochure, the Comet was a pretty plain-jane car, compared to anything but a Falcon. However, Mercury attempted to brainwash buyers into forgetting that by screaming “STYLE” in the brochure. Our feature car seems to be the bottom of the line base model, which retailed at $2084, and outsold the sedan by a few thousand units. For under $100 extra, you could step into a Deluxe model that had some extra trim.
But who needs that extra trim? This model has a tasteful amount of chrome, and the new for ’62 taillights are, in my opinion, a thousand times more stylish than the previous slanted pickles that adorned the ’60 and ’61 models.
For the sake of comparison, the above pictured Comet has the Deluxe trim option, which includes bright trim around the window frames and a “Deluxe” badge underneath the Comet script on the front fender.
Probably the worst thing about the Comet was that Mercury tacked on a bunch of length, wheelbase, and weight, but saddled this compact with a 144 cubic inch wheezer of an inline six that puked out 90 horsepower, followed closely in feebleness by a 170 cubic inch option that squeaked over the century mark with 101 horsepower. Our feature car could have either, but it is most certainly saddled by the two-speed “Merc-O-Matic.” It’s a good thing that most people aren’t in a hurry cruising around in their collector cars. A 1962 Motor Trend test of a Comet 170 automatic bragged of a zero-to-sixty time of around 22 seconds, and test mileage of under 17 MPG. An earlier road test of a 144 automatic? 27 seconds zero-to-sixty. Well, at least the Comet buyer could order the 260 in 1963.
In 1962, the Comet was the compact in a Mercury line also consisting of the Meteor and the full-size Mercury. After 1963, it became the “intermediate” when Mercury dropped the Meteor. But for a few years in the early 1960s, Mercury had its own basic compact for those who liked Fords, but thought Falcons a bit too proletariat. It may not have streaked down the road like its nameplate, but it looked pretty good in black over red.
Wow! Suicide Knob!
I really like this era of Comet. They have a style all their own, not trying to be a fancy Falcon. In the early 70’s a high school friend had a 61 Comet four door in the exact same black exterior/red interior combo as this one.
I believe that Comet had the best applied factory paint job of any I have seen to date. The black was close to flawless, with zero orange peel.
I don’t think that a 27 second 0-60 would be feasable or safe in today’s traffic. I’d be road raged by some cellphone user in a Escalade before I drove 10 miles. Even my ’66 Beetle was better than that but it had a breathed on 1600 despite the 1300 on the rear lid.
Buddy of mine had one back in college, late 1980s. Holy CRAP did I feel vulnerable riding in that thing when he’d take off … s.l.o.o.o.o.o.o.w.l.y … from a light. Having people ride his bumper was the normal occurrence.
The great advantage to owning an early Falcon or Comet today is that there are plenty of Mavericks that have gone to the big Interstate in the sky, and Mustangs that have received 302 V8s that are happy to pass down their 200 ci I6s to their forebearers. Paint the block black and the tins blue (for a 144), red (for a 170), or yellow (for a Comet) and the 200 is virtually indistinguishable from the earlier engine.
And I’m not all that unhappy with the 170 in my Futura – although I wasn’t cursed with the FM2.
We just drop in a 250 from a later Falcon or an alloy head 4.1 bolt in conversion, XF brakes a 4 speed and yer good to go
I’m putting a 250 with a Classic Inlines alloy copy of the Australian 250-2V head in a ’62 Falcon. It required a major setback to still run the mechanical fan, and hood clearance is so tight I’m going to have to run a carb bonnet instead of an air cleaner.
Not exactly a “just drop in” affair, but hopefully worthwhile when finished. If I was going to do it again, I’d do a 200 and a 5-speed or a 302 V8.
Unintended humor tacked on to the article: One of the sidebar ads that comes up is for a (supposedly, although I don’t recognize the name) local dealer, Colonial Ford. With five “Mercury” buttons to click, including one entitled “New Mercury”. Somebody’s wishing . . . .
A zero-to-sixty time of 27 seconds is painfully slow, but I’m sure the Comet is OK going from stoplight to stoplight. Merging onto the highway would have to be planned carefully, though!! Those engines make all their power right off idle and it will probably stay in first up until 45mph or so if you keep on it. If I owned any car like this it would get either a manual transmission or an aftermarket OD unit behind the 2-speed auto, with much quicker gears in the rear end in either case. Old 2-speed automatics were never really happy being connected to anything but incredibly torquey V8s, and even then you’re still wasting a huge amount of power and efficiency.
I really don’t like 2-speeds, either. My ’65 Skylark has a 300-4V with 2.78 gears and a 2-speed. Off the line, I often think, “Shouldn’t this thing be making a one-tire fire by now?” Nope…It’s more like, “just wait until I’m going 50 or so!” Ah, it’s all part of the fun.
The above comment ^^^ was a reply to MarcKyle64… I still haven’t mastered posting from my cell phone.
Glad to see another black over red fan. That’s one of my favorite early 60s color combos and I think it looks great here.
These Falcon and Comet sixes really prefer the three-speed manual, or better yet, the four speed stick,which was an option, although pretty rare.
Ah yes, the Dagenham. A better option for today’s driver is an aftermarket adapter and a T-5 five-speed made up of Mustang and S10 parts: lower first, overdrive, full synchro, option of a Hurst shifter, and easier parts availability.
Very nice,I like this a lot.
Yes the feeble Falcons got blown away by the 115hp 179cube 63 Holdens out here, nice cars we didnt get,
I always was fascinated by the Holdens. What a shame Chevrolet didn’t simply re-style the Holden FB for their compact entry in 1960 instead of foisting the Corvair on us.
These early ’60’s Comets were plentiful in Northern California in my youth. There was a yellow ’62 Deluxe at a 3rd tier car lot in San Rafael I was hounding my Dad to by under the premise of my ‘older sister maybe needing a car’ (ulterior motive – me to ride in it and eventually get). This one actually was pretty cherry, yellow with the black vinyl interior that had the deluxe seat pattern nylon cloth inserts. Would’ve made a great beach car. This would’ve been around 1971 . . .
There were lots of these in Canada when I was a very young child, circa 1970, but the Quebec winters doomed most of them to terminal rot in five years or so, maybe ten with a very careful owner. They were considered, and marketed as, a big step-up from the Falcon. I had several relatives who were Ford men and put up with their outrageous rusting.
I have driven a Falcon 144 Six and Fordomatic and whoah, is that one slug. We said it went zero to sixty on one tank it was that slow. Even turning onto city streets took careful planning since it was so gutless. It was owned by an elderly lady, a long term government worker, who had bought it new. She died around 1995 and I wonder what happened to that car. It wasn’t worth much in those days.
I once drove a 60 Comet with the 144 and a 3 speed. It was a really slow car as well, so I cannot imagine how much worse with the automatic.
I love my ’62 Comet. It’s a four-door, has no options, and only 80Kmi on the clock. I’ve driven it mostly since 1985.
But it’s sat for about eight years (hence “mostly”), and I’m going to get around to it one day. And though I have no aspirations of making it look as purdy as these examples, I want to get it moving again.
Anybody know of a junkyard with Comet parts in it?
It was this Comet of which I commented above!
I see the (newer) Edsel entry above, and am reminded of the Edsel/Comet connection–on the odd chance there’s a CC’er who doesn’t know the story, it’s worth a moment’s Google….
Nice to see all the Comets (but I didn’t realize they were THAT slow….)!
First car I drove was a ’65 Comet with the same type of plain-Jane, red, all-metal dash. Bottom of the line, too, with a 3-on-tree and 6-cyl.
Car did fine on gas, too, as I recall, and that was important to a poor high school student struggling to pay 51 cents a gallon.
my very first car was a 62 comet 4-door colored creme w/large swaths of primer brown, that belched blue smoke. both the engine and the 2-speed drank fluid like fishes, and the vacuum was so bad the wipers would stop dead at any accelleration, only to move again when you got to top-of-hill and could let off. it redefined ‘clown car’, but my 16-year-old ass loved that bucket. Cost my dad $200. can’t believe i just saw $19K on ebay. never can tell.
Bought this 63 s22 170 Merc o matic last Sept 2022 exactly like my first car at 17. Quite slow just as I recalled it to be but what a sexy little eye catcher… I’m 71 now and reliving my youth, top down style.