Car: Mercury Comet Cyclone GT Hardtop
What makes it special: The 1966 Comet Cyclone GT is a good example of a Mercury Muscle Car. Comet jumped from a compact to an intermediate thanks to its use of the new Ford Fairlane body shell. The cars shared a 116-inch wheelbase and had the same silhouette in both convertible and two-door hardtop form. Standard GT gear included sporty stripes and an engine dress-up kit that consisted of a chrome air cleaner and valve covers. The standard tires were 7.75×14 whitewalls on 5.5-inch rims. Mercury offered optional hub caps that looked like chrome wheels without wheelcovers. The Comet Cyclone GT was about $100 more expensive than its Fairlane counterpart. It had richer interior appointments that included a five-dial instrument cluster, plush bucket seats, and sculptured console. Power steering, power front disc brakes, and factory-installed under-dash air conditioning were optionally available.
What made it famous: Despite the absence of an optional 427, the 1966 Comet Cyclone GT was no softy. Beneath the non-functional hood scoops sat Ford’s 390 cu in High Performance V8 with a 4-throat Holley carb. As in the Fairlane GT, it was rated at 335 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 427 pounds/feet of torque at 3200 rpm. A 10.5:1 compression ratio and dual exhausts were part of the package, as was a higher degree of reliability than offered by the high-strung 427. A 3-speed manual transmission was standard; optional was a 4-speed manual or the C-6 Merc-O-Matic 3-speed automatic. New 1-2-D Sport Shift let the automatic-transmission’s driver change gears manually. A rear-axle ratio of 3.25:1 was standard, with optional ratios of 3.00:1, 3.50:1, 3.89:1, and 4:11:1 available. Underneath, a heavy-duty suspension operated with stiffer spring and shock damping rates. Up front, a larger sway bar helped keep the body stable during hard cornering.
Why I would want one: As a major Fairlane fan, it should come as no surprise that I would equally love its Mercury counterpart, especially in High-Performance options.
Fun fact: Mercury got some valuable exposure for its Comet Cyclo GT when it was chosen as the official pace car of the ’66 Indianapolis 500.