Saturday, April 14, 2018

Cars in Yards: 1973 Mercury Comet

The Comet appears to be awaiting restoration although complete and not rusty, a tune-up, tires, brake job may be needed before its road worthy.

Move over, Maverick! The phrase “Ford Lincoln Mercury” did not accurately represent the pecking order of affordability. If it did, it would have read “Ford Mercury Lincoln” on the dealer signage. The Ford Maverick, introduced in 1971, was developed as a replacement for the Ford Falcon that traditionally offered the frugal motoring alternative to a used car. Maverick was an affordable means of transportation and served many families. Mercury offered a slightly nicer platform of what Ford had going on across the hall. Built on the same platform, the Comet was Mercury’s version of the Ford Maverick. Although the Mercury Comet nomenclature was nothing new, this body style was a compact car, no longer the mid-sized Comet of the 1966-1969 generation.


Gravity pulling at the headliner.
Cloth bench seat is in great condition on this 1973 Mercury Comet. Watch your head, gravity is pulling hard on the headliner. 

Comfy cruiser
   This 1973 Mercury Comet was a great example. Example of what? It was essentially a Maverick with a few nicer features for your money. Check out what you would get. Simple, yet a tad nicer. This one was optioned with cloth seats and air conditioning. It also had a 302-V8 with a C-4 automatic transmission and a moderately geared 3.0:1 ratio non-locking rear end. The color is awesome in the seldom seen code 5H Ginger. Rolling stock — predictable hub caps and 14-inch white walls. 


Nice, right? Just wait, these may be the hot rods of the future.
Close your eyes and imagine a 1973 muscle car. Now open them and check out the Comet. Nice, right? Just wait, these may be the hot rods of the future. 

Look deep
   Why is this a find? Well, it is if you are a Mercury enthusiast. Even if you are not you still have to appreciate the fact that this overlooked car is here at all. A lot can happen between 1973 and now. Consider this: For every three Mavericks built and sold in 1973, there was only one Comet sold. Also, how many times along the way has someone needed an unabused 302? Somehow this one was hidden from the engine hoist of potential swappers. 



Blue air cleaner lid denotes the 302-2 barrel carb on the 1973 Mercury Comet.

Details

   Our feature car was sold new in Tennessee. It was purchased by an older lady and was driven sparingly. (Editor’s note: Lets’ all watch and see how long Ron can keep this going without using the age old cliché “only driven to church and the grocery store.” We know he wants to.) Obviously, not a world traveler or a commuter, she managed to keep the miles low and stayed on top of all preventive maintenance. The car stayed with her until the late 1980’s when it was purchased by a gentleman in North Alabama. The current owner took possession of the Ginger brown Comet in the early 2000’s. He is only the third owner of this rare Mercury. 


Bling before bling was a thing.
Aluminum trim is hung all over the Comet. Bling! Economy compact car with class. 

Cheap, muscle car of the future
  Maverick/Comet owners we salute you and hope you continue to save and restore these cars. Many may not understand you or appreciate you, but we do! This generation of Comets and Mavericks are an affordable option to those who want a vintage American classic on the cheap. Rear wheel drive, V8 engine, easy to maintain, has chrome bumpers, 2-door. Check yes on all that! Undoubtedly these are a sure bet to increase in value as the bellybutton (everybody has one) Mustangs, Camaros, Tri-Fives become too costly to buy and too valuable to daily drive. 
  You can count on Junkyard Life to stop and take pictures when we see one on the street or in a yard. The fate of our feature car? To be brought back to life soon. The gentleman who owns this appreciates it and refuses to let it be a parts car. It is indeed in good hands.

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

1973 Mercury Comet script sail panel emblem.


Junkyard Life’s Maverick/Comet Fun Facts

  • Hot Wheels gave Maverick fans a treat in the early 1970’s with a few variations of a Maverick with some custom touches such as hide-away headlights. It was called The Mighty Maverick and later The Street Snorter.
  • Then in 2012 Hot Wheels offered fans a Super Treasure Hunt 1971  Grabber and another custom Maverick in 2018. Represented!
  • Due to their light weight, low cost and the chassis ability to sustain a V8, many Mavericks and Comets ended up on the drag strip.
  • To level the playing field for the Pony car wars (then on the decline) Ford offered a performance oriented Grabber package on the Maverick and Mercury offered up the GT package on the Comet. The alternative Mustang?
  • The Mercury Comet buyer was a rare demographic. If essentially the same car was offered in the Maverick, how many buyers with a little more budget would have opted for another car? 
  • No 1970 Comet offered on any chassis in 1970 but the 1971 models started production in April of 1970.
  • The Falcon line, which was replaced by the Maverick/Comet line, was offered in several body styles including a station wagon. Maverick/Comet was not offered in a wagon. A four door sedan was as close as you could come.
  • Why so few Mercury Comets? Do the math ….according to forums they made 282,218 Mavericks in 1973, but only 82,716 Comets. They were not here to begin with!
  • Our feature car was purchased to be a parts car for a Maverick project the owner has going on. He got it home and deemed it too nice to be a parts car. Whew!

The giant bumper, push guards do detract from the overall clean lines of the Comet, but what is your safety worth to you?

Sleeper 1973 Comet with 14-inch wheels and a V8. These cars have been frowned upon and ridiculed for many years but we believe the “little old lady” cars will make a strong investment. Really. 

Original Comet decal for tires/air pressure in mint condition on the original paint.

You can still find an original 302-V8/210hp Mercury Comet in driver condition for a fraction of what 1964-1970 muscle car projects are commanding. Those projects need a full rebuild. You can grab a Comet and take off! 


Do you have a Comet story, a great classic or muscle car barn find story? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at junkyardbull@gmail.com & Ron Kidd at Kidd403@bellsouth.net




Friday, February 23, 2018

24 Hours of LeMons returns to Barber Motorsports for the 2018 ’Shine Country Classic


$500 car for a million dollars worth of fun. The 24 Hours of LeMons series hit Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama to kick-off their new season on February 3-4 with the fifth annual ’Shine Country Classic. The circus of colorful, race-hungry, drivers and their makeshift pit crews brought race cars that looked as if they were built by clowns on steroids. The friendly, fun, action on the track in re-bodied, engine-contorted combos, made each worthy of up close inspection in the fan-friendly garage area. Let’s take a look.  

Deeznuts were taking a look at their Miata. On their hood, "No Goats, No Glory."


Randy Pobst, famed race car driver and Motor Trend journalist, hopped behind the wheel of the re-bodied Camaro/Cadillac Coupe SeVille at Barber Motorsports Track. Pobst was fast! The car won the Class A trophy.


The 2.48-mile course at Barber Motorsports Park is technically challenging with 17 turns and 80 feet of elevation change. Cars were often pushed passed their limits and kicking up the dirt along the edges of the 45 foot wide track.


Randy Pobst spent a couple of hours behind the wheel of the #37 Cadillac. The Camaro-based Caddy hugs the turns thanks to the super low stance of the 1984 Camaro that hides under the heavily massaged bodywork.


Big rear wing is good for spotting the car on the track. Not sure that the downforce is needed as much on the road course.


Kudos to the ’Shine Country Classic for celebrating their fifth year at Barber Motorsports Park. The LeMons series, noted for lowbrow humor and low-buck racing, is an odd pairing with the dignified, well-manicured grounds of the Barber facility. Imagine Talladega Superspeedway’s NASCAR fans allowed to race their own cars on the track. No dice, Bubba. That magic only happens at Barber.



Done Racing’s AMC AMX "Alabama Made Crapcan" spent some time working out bugs in the garage area. The car’s custom fiberglass AMX body rides on a BMW Z3 that was pulled from Copart’s online junkyard.


The Camaro-based Caddy was one of my favorite cars. At least four guys dedicated 600 hours to creating the 2-door masterpiece from a 4-door 1982 Seville.



I couldn’t get enough of the 1972 Datsun 240Z built by Nerdie Racing. I envision the 240Z project I once owned in a new light. These cars look fast sitting still.



Eagle Talon much? Don’t see these on the road... ever. I’ll say this car did eclipse all the Mitsubishi Eclipses on the track.



Walking through the pits, I chatted up up the driver/owner of the #47 TredWear Ford Pinto. The man chewing on the cigar said, "My name is Mike Hunt." Come again, I said. I thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. Mike Hunt races LeMons.



Sharp turn, watch out for the Nissan 300ZX cockroach, or the Mercedes with giant wing. Yellow 1995 Ford Probe (center) was the Class B winner.


Plymouth Valiant with patina in spades, gets some fuel. 


The Porsche 944 team was spotted in the penalty area.


These guys had a missile on the roof, Donald Trump, and Kim Jong Un references all over their camo race car. 




1983 Porsche 911 powered by a VW TDI turbodiesel engine was the Class C winner. 


In desert sand paint.
This Fox Body Mustang pulls off a great rendition of the tank theme.


Look close and you can see that it’s Randy Pobst in the seat of the VW, ready for some hot laps.

Winners
Class A: 1982 Cadillac Seville #37 (maroon/silver)
Class B: 1995 Ford Probe #116 (yellow)
Class C: 1983 Porsche 911 #911 (light blue)

Good times, but I need a car to race
You can bet that I will be back to Barber to watch their next LeMons race. I can pay the $30 ticket price but an even better option would be if I watched the race on the track. It looks like such a blast racing on a world-class track with a bunch of crazies. I should put in some effort and build a $500-or-less race car with a lot of help from my friends. Stay posted.

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life


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Do you have a LeMons race story? Know of a unique junkyard? Sound off to junkyardbull@gmail.com