Junkyard Gem: 1971 Mercury Comet 2-Door Sedan

When Ford launched the primary Maverick for the 1970 model 12 months, Dearborn tradition needed that a Mercury-badged edition be created. That car finished up becoming the Comet, developed from the 1971 as a result of 1977 product several years. Here is a person of individuals initial-year Comets in tough but recognizable problem, located in a Denver self-services garden not lengthy ago.

The Comet title had spent the 1960s affixed to the flanks of Mercurized Ford Falcons (1960-1965) and Fairlanes (1966-1969). Given that the Maverick was the successor of the Falcon — profits of which went into an irrecoverable downward spiral when its sportier Mustang 1st cousin strike the streets — it produced perception to transfer the Comet title more than to the Mercury edition.

Almost just about every American Mercury product ever offered was a U.S.-marketplace Ford design with a distinctive name and some gingerbread slapped on. Notable exceptions to this tradition incorporate the 1999-2002 Mercury Cougar (mechanically primarily based on the Contour but with a exceptional body) and the 1991-1994 Mercury Capri (an Australian-constructed mashup of Mazda elements borrowed from the Ford Laser).

The Comet was by considerably the most affordable Mercury product accessible in 1971, even though it was regarded more prestigious than its Maverick counterpart. The value tag on the ’71 Comet two-door sedan began at $2,217 (about $16,505 in 2022 dollars), although the ’71 Maverick two-door sedan charge $2,175 ($16,193 these days).

Meanwhile, AMC would sell you a new Hornet two-doorway sedan for one dollar fewer than a Maverick, Chevrolet experienced the Nova coupe for a dollar more than the Maverick, and Plymouth provided the Valiant Duster for $2,313 ($17,220 now). Toyota experienced a Maverick competitor as effectively that 12 months, with the Corona at $2,150 for the sedan and $2,310 for the coupe. Having driven each individual just one of the aforementioned designs, I would choose the Duster if I went back in time and had to pick just one (as a 1969 Corona operator, I am not a admirer of the 1971 facelift, while the Corona’s construct high-quality beats the Duster’s).

The develop sticker on this car or truck tells us that it was designed at the Kansas Town Assembly Plant (exactly where Transits and F-150s are built now) and sold via the Los Angeles district sales business office (there was a DSO in Denver, so it’s a in close proximity to-certainty that this car or truck did not begin out in Colorado). The paint began out as Dazzling Blue Metallic (it truly is neither dazzling nor metallic 51 several years down the street) and the inside was performed up in Medium Blue Cloth & Vinyl.

The establish sticker says the original engine was a 200-cubic-inch (3.3-liter) pushrod straight-six, rated at 115 horsepower (and most likely this is that quite motor, though swaps are rampant on Detroit cars of this period). That’s a 15-horse update in excess of the base 170-dice six, and it price the unique purchaser an excess $39 ($290 in 2022 bucks). This motor served as the foundation for the HSC 4-cylinder designed for the Ford Tempo a bit additional than a decade later on. A 250ci 6 with 145 horses and a 302ci V8 with 210 hp had been also accessible in the 1971 Comet.

The base transmission in the 1971 Maverick/Comet was a three-speed guide the Maverick had a “3-on-the-tree” column-mounted shifter as foundation gear when the Comet got a sportier ground-mounted shifter at no further price. No 4-speed manual was ever out there from the factory on a highway-authorized U.S.-market 1970-1977 Maverick or Comet (while I’m confident some dealers installed them in new automobiles), but a three-velocity computerized was available for $183 added ($1,362 these days) on the 1971 Comet.

All in all, a fairly cool overall economy motor vehicle from a fifty percent-century back, and its two-door format tends to make it seem like a excellent candidate for some modern day managing gear and a standard sprucing-up. However, you will find rust. Oh certainly, there is rust. A long time of rain and snow finding into the passenger compartment have eaten large holes in the floors, for starters.

Then you can find the rot in the regular sites. It is repairable, but the price would be a lot extra than the benefit of the stop result.

The physique has some alarmingly thick layers of entire body filler, hiding who-is familiar with-what old problems.

The interior has been completely ravaged by the features as effectively. A 1971 Mustang in this condition might be value restoring, but not a Comet.

Bobby Hull believed it was nifty.

A smaller auto can only be first… if it lasts.