That is the phrase owner Roy Pool used to describe how much it cost to build his car: way too much. But that description could also be expanded to other facets of the build. His cam, in fact, could be called way too much. The compression ratio, a stratospheric 13.8:1, might be described similarly. But the most crucial factor is this: How much fun does Roy have driving it? You got it: way too much.
The "way too" theme ends, however, when we attempt to describe how long Roy has owned his Mercury. He's had it for almost half a century. We've said it before in these pages, but we love it when guys hang on to their cars. They get cooler as time progresses. Roy bought the car in 1967. At the time, he was in the Army, stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. He bought it from a second lieutenant who had upgraded to a family truckster for child-hauling duty. Roy began racing the Comet almost immediately at Manhattan Raceway Park near the base. Running in the Pure Stock class, the original two-barrel 289 and three-speed, column-shifted manual transmission combination was good for mid-15-second elapsed times. After his stint in the Army, he upgraded to a T10 and 7-inch slicks, and raced the car in Stock Eliminator at Lions Raceway.
Life intervened for a few years, and Roy used the car for daily-driver duty while his children grew up. But once the nest was empty, he got back into racing the car. He built it as a Pro Street car, adding the rollcage, slicks, and 3.89 gears. His best time in that configuration was a 12.84 pass.
The desire for more speed got the best of Roy, and soon he was building a new, big-cubic-inch, 289-based small-block. He plunked it into the engine compartment, backed it up with a sweet-shifting Jerico, and got serious running mid-10s with 128-mph trap speeds. He runs at American Nostalgic Racing Association events throughout the summer and is thinking of moving up to the Nostalgia Superstock; he'd need to build a big-block for that, though.
Even though it cost way too much, Roy has no regrets. Well except for one: that he doesn't get to drive it as much as he'd like. Half-filled with Hard Blok, the cooling system isn't up to the task of maintaining temperatures at around-town speeds. Even after 44 years of owning it, Roy can't fathom selling it. He's having too much fun with it.
Who: Roy Pool
Where: Camarillo, California. Doesn't rhyme with armadillo.
What: '65 Mercury Comet
Engine: For as much noise as the car makes, it is a little surprising to see a diminutive and almost plain looking Windsor under the hood. It began as a 289, but now measures a stout 352 ci. The small-block is bored 0.060 inch over and fitted with an Eagle 3.40-inch stroke crank, allowing Roy to maximize its displacement. Fain's Machine in Ventura, California, did the block work, which included zero-decking and partially filling the coolant jackets with Hard Blok. Forged Keith Black pistons deliver the aforementioned 13.8:1 compression ratio. They're mated to Scat 5.4-inch connecting rods. The rings are from Speed-Pro, and the bearings are from Clevite. A Crane solid roller cam contributes to the soundtrack, and it is big-Roy was a little vague on the duration, calling it 300-plus, but he would admit to a 0.672 lift on both the intake and exhaust valves. The cylinder heads are ported Edelbrock Victor Jr.'s, and they're fitted with 2.05/1.62 valves. Comp springs and titanium retainers shed some weight from the valvetrain. The rocker arms are 1.6:1 Harland Sharp rollers. The pushrods are from Ford Motorsports as are the valve covers. A Victor Jr. intake manifold sits on top of all that. It breathes through a Holley 750 HP carb and a K&N filter plumbed into the airstream through the functional hoodscoops.
Exhaust: The headers are custom made by a person with a lot of patience. The rear tubes on both sides of the engine need to snake around a bunch of stuff to get to the collectors. They're a stepped design, too, so the 1 3/4-inch primary tubes open into larger 1 7/8-inch tubes before joining up at the 3 1/2-inch collectors. They dump into a 3-inch exhaust system with a pair of loud DynoMax Bullet mufflers.
Power: We like these numbers: 550 hp and 450 lb-ft. He shifts at 7,200 rpm.
Transmission: Roy likes to shift his own gears, and lightning-fast clutchless shifts are the way to go. With a Jerico DR4 and a Long vertical shifter, Roy makes it look easy. A Lakewood scattershield houses a McLeod 10-inch clutch.
Driveline: Aft of the trans, you'll find an Inland Empire aluminum driveshaft and an imposing-looking Mark Williams 9-inch rear. With 5.67:1 gears on a 35-spline spool and Mark Williams axles, we doubt Roy stays up at night worrying about any of those parts breaking.
Suspension/Brakes: The front is stock save for a pair of Competition Engineering shocks and 11-inch disc brakes. The rear is a ladder bar setup from Chris Alston. Those are Aldan Eagle coilovers out back. The 12-inch drum brakes are from a Ford station wagon.
Wheels/Tires: Up front are Phoenix 15x12.5 tires on American Racing 15x4 wheels. Out back, you'll find 11.5Wx29.5 slicks on 15x12.5 PSE hoops. Large by huge is the expression Tech Editor Smith uses.
Body: Roy took care to trim weight from his car where he could. The hood, bumpers, and fenders are fiberglass, and he gutted the doors, replacing the glass with Lexan. He does his own bodywork but turned painting duties over to Dan Koscas, of Oxnard, California, who sprayed the light-blue PPG paint. Believe it or not, that paintjob is 35 years old.
Interior: It's functional and cool in there. The Kirkey seats and RJS harnesses keep Roy planted as he power-shifts through the gears, and a bunch of Auto Meter gauges are there so he can monitor his engine's vital functions.