Sunday, April 24, 2016

Show Car Sunday returns with the Corvallis Comet!

I was visiting my sister in Oregon last year when we drove past this astonishing little anomaly:
This is a 1972 Mercury Comet in White. The reason I call it an anomaly is that it is a compact car wearing a luxury nameplate. This is an in-the-family case of badge engineering (where a car company puts their own name on another brand of car and sells it through their dealership). With the exception of the grill and taillights this is 100% Ford Maverick.
Kind of quirky, kind of frumpy, with a Coke bottle body and staggered door handles, this ride sums up the awkward period between '60s and '70s design. Most domestic cars of this era were gargantuan so I have to hand it to Ford/Mercury for their timeliness in producing this just in time for the gas crisis.
The seam below that side marker light has just the faintest of gentle wear leading me to believe this car is totally original. The condition is flat-out incredible!
Inside looks just as perfect as the outside, with the original Manston Cloth and Vinyl seats letting us know that this is the Deluxe Comet. By the way that's Corinthian Vinyl according to the brochure, years before Ricardo Montalban was crowing about Fine Corinthian Leather in the Cordoba. Wikipedia claims that Corinthian Leather was a made up term from an ad agency in 1974 for Chrysler, but I'm reading it in a 1972 Mercury brochure so who knows?
 Gotta love the insanely optimistic 120mph speedometer!
Oh yeah baby this is white tie all the way! That class you're sensing through the screen is due to the Exterior Decor Group option; fancy hubcaps, chrome trim around the windows and vinyl roof, shiny rocker panels, and a "deluxe gas cap" are all included. I have zero idea what is special about the gas cap.
It is pretty well proportioned, and claims to be able to ferry 5 adults and a pile of luggage no sweat.
I was half convinced that this car was a faint green, but I think it's just the indirect lighting messing with my eyes. It is a warm white, as far as whites go.
I love these trapezoidal taillight pods! These could be found on other Mercurys as well; the Montego and mighty Cyclone both shared this taillight treatment. Ford did this too, with taillights from the Maverick being identical to the Pinto, pickup trucks, and vans of the '70s.
Chances are that this car is equipped with an inline-6 cylinder either in 170cc or 200cc sizes. The smaller engine put out a woeful 82 horsepower while the larger of the sixes was rated at 91. There was a 302 V8 option but even that was only good for 138hp!
Just like its Ford cousins this compact looks like a shrunken version of its full-size siblings. The large LTD and Montego both had the swooping body lines and read door handles higher than those in front. If anything the 4 doors are more balanced as the 2 door versions were all hood.
Witness the luxury of the superior Mercury trim! That bright metal headlight surround, target turn signal in its own housing, and chrome horizontal grill bar are exclusive to the Merc.
This is what your additional $203 got you. Brand new the sticker price for the Comet was $2,398 vs $2,195 for the Maverick. Good luck getting your transmission fixed for that much these days!
Well that's about it for what might be the nicest '72 Mercury Comet on the planet. The moderate Oregon climate helps preserve cars somewhat but this must've been in a garage most of its life. I'd happily drive it even though it looks like a child dressed in a suit. As slow as it is though you'd be forced to lay back and cruise, but that's what Sundays are all about.
*Last but not least I had to include this old ad featuring the Gay Space Craft!

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