Can you believe this garage? OK, you might be able to. This car is easily the cleanest pro
'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.
The guys at MSD strapped the Comet to the rollers and clocked only 201 hp at 4,330. It doe
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.
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.
The 390 is a bland truck engine that had the standard lifter tick and a little bit of blow
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.
We had planned to stop at the El Paso saddle-blanket store before we even saw the car know
That is a big wall of horns. Largest in the area.
'Aviator sunglasses rule! Take a wrong turn in El Paso and you end up in Ciudad Juarez, M
After searching in vain for the Todd Ryden-recommended phantom ghost-town racetrack, we st
On the freeway, we were startled to notice that the car had only 66,000 miles and it felt completely new. By that we mean new in 1967. The second owner had purchased it from somewhere in upstate New York and proceeded to ditch the factory six and Select Shift Merc-O-Matic transmission and replaced them with a 390 FE and a Top Loader four-speed. Thanks, whoever you are. The third owner had rubbed out the paint, fixed the trim, and finished the restoration so it could sit in his garage as a sculpture. Other than a drivetrain upgrade, the rest of the car was completely stock, so it was really nice to drive once we were at peace with the overassisted power steering.
We were already trying to find the top of the tach on the I-10 south on the way back to El Paso to drop off the rental and drop in on Todd Ryden and the guys from MSD Ignition. They had just enclosed their chassis dyno with some barn-tin and were as eager as we were to find the redline and the maximum power of the 390 so we could plan cam swaps and intake upgrades. They also showed us their brutal, blown Gen III Cadillac CTS-V and let us take it on some demonstration passes behind the shop.
Most people relate the P-51 Mustang to the shark's-mouth-nose art, but it was actually the
From the factory, the '67 Mercury lineup was packed with optional big Ford powerplants. The base models came standard with either the 200ci six-cylinder engine that made an advertised 120 hp at 4,400 rpm or one of several versions of the 289 with 200-250 hp depending on the compression ratio. Our Comet 202 sedan was optioned with the six-popper, but you could step up to the Cyclone package with a 289 or the Cyclone GT with a 320hp 390ci engine. There was also a Cyclone Super package with a 427-inch FE engine and a standard four-speed transmission. With the exception of some of the 427ci engines, all of the FE engines were part of the Marauder series that included the 390 ci, the 410 ci, which was a 390 block with a 428 crank, and the Super Marauder 428. These engines were rated between 270-345 hp depending on displacement and compression ratio and were standard on the fullsize Park Lane, Brougham, and Marquis in 1967. The Super Marauder was standard equipment in the '67 S-55 if you are looking for one.
Knowing this, we were kind of disappointed when we saw the 200hp dyno figures. The donor engine was likely from a Ford truck, but the Comet still felt like a musclecar.
The engine blow-by was beginning to catch up to us right in the middle of the desert. We p
Where Are We?
Our road-trip plan was to avoid most of the main arteries between the cities in the hope of stumbling upon something interesting. Todd Ryden tipped us off that there was a dirt-oval racetrack down near the Mexico border that had been built but then abandoned years before. We had to leave Todd after he debated about going back to work or going with us; it was a tough call. We jumped off the interstate and entered Highway 9, which runs so close to Mexico that the lines on the map become one.
The smaller highways in the southwest desert are festooned with tiny border towns and vintage visitor centers that are normally stocked with information on every oddity within a 20-mile radius. Each time we crossed a state line, we'd drop in and collect the pamphlets about towns such as Truth or Consequences, so named for a '50s-era radio game show that wanted a town to change its name for a publicity stunt.
We crisscrossed the map using the interstates for only a few miles at a time to load up on beef jerky and gas, and navigated using the free cartoon maps provided by the local tourist traps. The car cruised at 70 mph with surprising comfort and zero road feel but we didn't care. Aside from a stolen credit card and a near miss with an SUV, the trip was all pecan logs and cheesy turquoise jewelry.
The trip totaled two days. It would have been longer courtesy of a side trip to Joshua Tree National Park, but a black cloud had formed over Los Angeles and the wipers hadn't been used in a decade. Still, we wanted to stay out there. The Comet is the ultimate '60s cruising vessel and it deported us to a better time when there was less traffic, $0.25 ethel lead, and nothing to watch on TV.
With the car safely back in the shop, our plan is to turn it into a Stock Car replica without cutting up anything. That means careful removal of the parts from the stock interior that don't fit the look and using vinyl decals instead of paint. Since the drivetrain isn't stock anyway, plan to see a cam and intake swap and to hear some thundering Stock Car exhaust. If you have some ideas, join us at CarCraft.com in the forum area and speak your mind. We'll listen.
What: '67 Mercury Comet
Engine: 390-inch FE
Transmission: Four-speed Top Loader with a Hurst shifter
Carb: Edelbrock 600-cfm AFB
Rearend: Ford 9-inch with 3.25 gears
Body: Comet 202 with a factory Cyclone fiberglass hood
14x5.5 and 14x8
steel wheels with 195/75R-14 and 245/60R-14 tires
The duct tape we placed over the valve-cover hole just wasn't holding, so we added a breat
They're cool with burnouts. Right?
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The next stop was the Salton Sea between El Centro and Indio, California. The biggest "tow
In Bombay Beach, we were invited by this local to attend the $4.95 spaghetti dinner that n
The last leg of our trip was blasted by driving rain and fog but we managed to make it bac
You could win this car or one of five other classics at the Timber Wolf Speed Shop. Go to