Pick of the Day: 1968 Mercury Comet

Credit: Original article published by Classic Cars Journal.

The Mercury Comet has a strange place in American automotive history. Initially a sister to the Ford Falcon, Mercury transferred the name to its mid-sized series in 1966, but the advent of the Montego in 1968 pushed the Comet name into irrelevancy until Mercury applied the name to the sister of the Ford Maverick in 1971. This 1968 Mercury Comet for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Pennsylvania is a fine example of how the model was being squeezed out with the introduction of a fancier, newer name, and for that reason it is our Pick of the Day. (Click the link to view the listing)

Prior to 1968, the Comet series started with Comet 202, then went up to Comet Capri, Comet Caliente, and Cyclone and Cyclone GT. But when the Montego name was introduced in 1968, Mercury left its mid-size series with one Comet model, with the former Capri and Caliente models now renamed Montego and Montego MX, plus a fancier Montego MX Brougham added for good measure. (The Cyclone and Cyclone GT also continued for sporty car fans.) How did a model name go from three to one within a series? It’s not an unusual situation — the Fairlane, Belvedere, Tempest, F-85 and Special all got squeezed out over time too.

Only one Comet body style was available in 1968 through its 1969 swan song: a two-door hardtop that Mercury called a Sports Coupe. Only 16,693 were built for 1968, so they don’t come up for sale often because they were disposable cars, especially for the economy-minded.

In fact, speaking of economy, this Gulfstream Aqua 1968 Comet was originally equipped with the 200ci six with 115 horsepower but, somewhere along the way, the current owner installed a 390 and a Toploader four-speed manual to make for something more interesting — a Q-ship, if you will. “It has Comp Cams (0.490/0.494 lift with 218-degree duration @ 0.050 inches of lift),” says the seller. “The carburetor is an Edelbrock four-barrel and sports a factory aluminum intake. Power goes to the back taken by a Ford 28-spline, nine-inch 3.50 rear axle. Headers and Flowmasters are in for the big exhale.”

The seller indicates there “a touch of surface rust splattered about” in the undercarriage but, overall, the Comet is in fine condition, with “new mechanicals, brake lines, etc.” Four drum brakes handle the stopping chores, with “a slight pull to the left.” How does the Comet drive? “She fires right up and runs smoothly,” though the “suspension groans a bit when pushed.”

Inside, the front bench seat features a suede-like broadcloth upgrade while the rear seats maintain their factory vinyl. Considering this was the bottom-of-the-line mid-size Merc with a six, it may not be a surprise that there is no radio. But what kind of cheapo model has a simulated woodgrain dashboard?

The seller wants $34,900 for this Comet Sports Coupe. Is it worth that much to you? For less than the price of a similar Plymouth Road Runner, you can have Mercury class in a down-market coupe with smiles as close as your right foot.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.