AJ’s Car of the Day: 1966 Mercury Comet Caliente Hardtop

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1966 Mercury Comet Caliente Hardtop

Car: Mercury Comet Caliente Hardtop

Year: 1966

What makes it special: Beginning in 1966, Mercury’s Comet grew from a compact to become a mid-sized car. It was now based on the same chassis as the Ford Fairlane intermediate and the previous Mercury Meteor intermediate which was only offered in 1962-1963. These intermediate-sized cars used the same basic chassis as the original Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet compacts, but were stretched with longer wheelbases. The 1966 Comet received distinct outer body panels.

What made it famous: The 1966 Comet line came in four series: 202, Capri, Caliente, and Cyclone. The Caliente served as the 1966 Comet’s luxury series. Standard equipment included simulated woodgrain interior trim, loop-pile carpeting, deluxe armrests with courtesy lights and paddle-type handles, lighted heater/defroster controls, plus full instrumentation and remote driver’s-side mirror. The Caliente series included a convertible as well as a sedan and hardtop. New engines available in the Comet for 1966 included a 390 cid V8 engine with a 2-barrel carburetor producing 265 hp at 4400 rpm, a 390 cid V8 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor producing 275 hp, and 390 cid V8 engine that produced 335 hp. The 335 hp 390 cid V8 engine was standard on the Cyclone GT and optional on other models. 

Why I would want one: I’ve owned the sister version, the 1966 Ford Fairlane Hardtop, and although very similar, the Mercury version has a few more creature comforts. Love the stacked headlights and individual grill look.

Fun fact: The Comet was originally planned as an Edsel model. Ford announced the end of the Edsel program on November 19, 1959. However, production of 1960 Edsel’s continued until late November. The Comet was reassigned to the Lincoln-Mercury division to sell at Mercury-Comet dealerships, where it was marketed as a stand-alone product for 1960 and 1961 as the Comet without any Mercury divisional badging.

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