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1967 Mercury Comet - Join The Newest Trend and Build a Stock Car Replica

Build Your Own Stock Car Replica.

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'Oops! We have a new project car. We are going to get into real trouble for this one because we just hatched this idea, saw an opportunity, jumped online, and bought a car in Las Cruces, New Mexico, without looking at it or asking anyone if this was even a good idea. Then we flew out there and picked it up just to see if it would make it home.

Why? Musclecars are coming back big time, so sitting fat on a short horizon is yet another maelstrom of price overinflation. This has renewed interest in vintage drag cars and musclecars in general as the platinum-credit-card guy looks for ways to invest. It didn't take long for them to notice that some of the coolest cars ever were driving on the big ovals in the late '60s, so the dollars are now shifting toward vintage Stock Cars as well.

Fortunately, you figured this out first and are sending us more photos of big Galaxies, Comets, and Torinos dressed in genuine Stock Car duds. We've pushed the concept a little in the magazine to gauge response, then simply gave in to the jones to buy an old, base-model Ford and build it into a NASCAR replica, all the way down to the electrical-taped horn button.

Instead of disco-era Novas, wacko Oldsmobiles, and Ramblers, Car Craft is jumping on the bandwagon for a couple of months to build a Stock Car, then giving you a chance to win it. You'll tell us if we are geeking-out or if is this cool.

The Plan
Even though Ford had pulled out of NASCAR as an official factory team in early 1966, Stock Car racing was about to get good. To prevent Ford from staying out of Stock Car racing indefinitely, NASCAR began to ignore the factory-stock rulebook and let cars such as Bud Moore's Mercury Comet, with an intermediate body and a fullsize Galaxie front clip, enter the field. That opened the door wide to cars like the Holman Moody half-chassis cars, and ushered in the era of custom-built tube frames and wild aero tricks that would soon follow. During the '67 season, Mario Andretti won the Daytona 500 in a 427 Ford Fairlane fielded by Holman Moody ahead of LeeRoy Yarbrough's record-setting Charger and Smokey Yunick's pole-sitting Chevelle. Body changes in the Ford intermediates in 1968 introduced the Torino body style, marking the beginning of the superspeedway era and the aero-wars between Charger Daytonas and Torino Talladegas in 1969 at the new Alabama International Motor Speedway in Talladega.

Our original intention was to find a '69 Torino and clone a superspeedway car. We even found an original Torino Talladega online but were buffeted by the $50,000 price tag. Other fullsize supercars were similarly priced. Our solution (as it usually is) was to find a more mainstream '66 or '67 Fairlane or Comet base-model car that was a little more affordable and a little less collectible. We found a full plate of Fairlanes, including a couple of big-block GTAs, but each time, we could either see through the floor or had to scroll down to get to the end of the list of engine swaps and hacksaw modifications. Forget about a 390 GT Cyclone.

That's when we saw a '67 Mercury Comet 202 that looked brand-new. The 202 is the base-model version of the Mercury Capri, Caliente, and Cyclone hardtops. It has a long hood and a short deck, shorter than even the Fairlane and Capri's. Because of that, the Comet is lighter and cheaper than its siblings. Add that it's a sedan with a post, and you have prime material for some guiltless modifications.

We triple-clicked the Buy It Now button and scrambled for a Tuesday-morning flight to El Paso, Texas, to rent a weiner car for the short hop into New Mexico. Our original plan was to arrive in Las Cruces on Wednesday morning to pick up the car, but we couldn't wait and pestered the owner until he relented. We got it Tuesday at sunset in a small, upscale community on the outskirts of town. We were expecting to find the car covered in a blue plastic tarp on the side of the house but were happily surprised that it was in an extremely clean garage perched on its own lift. We whipped out the cashier's check (OK, cash would have been much cooler) and drove that sucker into the night.

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