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Blue Plate Survivor: 1976 Mercury Comet

Badge engineering is nothing new in the automotive world, representing a sensible way for a manufacturer to maximize the return on the enormous costs involved in developing a new model. By sharing a platform across several makes utilizing little more than cosmetic upgrades, it offers the buying public a wider choice of trim levels and the ability to purchase a vehicle wearing the badge of their preferred marque. That brings us to the Fifth Generation Mercury Comet, which was essentially a Ford Maverick with appropriate styling changes. It remained in production from 1971 until 1977, selling in respectable numbers. However, the passage of time has seen many Comets disappear from our roads, making our feature car a breath of fresh air. It is a blue-plate survivor that presents well for its age. Its buyer could continue enjoying it untouched, although a light cosmetic refresh would lift its presentation to a high level. The Comet needs a new home, so the owner has listed it here on eBay in Marina del Rey, California. They set their auction to open at $5,800 but have received no bids. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for spotting this excellent survivor.

I’m unsure whether I am the odd man out, and it will be fascinating to gauge reader response, but I’ve always been quite partial to the styling of the Maverick/Comet duo. It wasn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it was crisp, and the proportions were right. I’ve often wondered whether it would have made a better replacement for the First Generation Mustang than the often-criticized Mustang II. Our feature car wears its original Tan paint, and while it isn’t perfect, it still presents well for a vehicle of its type and age. It would undoubtedly benefit from a cosmetic refresh, but the new owner could retain its survivor status without feeling shame. The best news is that having spent its life in California, it remains rust-free. That means that any restoration would involve leaving the grinder and welder in the cupboard. The glass appears flawless, and the trim condition is acceptable for a driver-grade classic.

The Comet continues the Tan theme when we examine its interior, although the Dark Brown highlights add a welcome contrast. As with the exterior, it is presentable and has no immediate needs. The wheel is cracked and missing its center, but the dash and pad are excellent. The carpet shows some wear and fading, and spending $225 on a new carpet set would positively impact the interior appearance. The seller admits the seats have a couple of minor imperfections, but I would investigate whether blind patches were an option before spending money on new covers. The rest of the upholstered surfaces look nice, and the new owner will benefit from the inclusion of air conditioning and an aftermarket CD player. The A/C requires recharging, but that should be an inexpensive process.

Buyers could choose from three engines to power their ’76 Comet, and this car’s original owner selected the safe middle ground by equipping it with the 250ci six-cylinder powerplant. Its 78hp feeds to the rear wheels via a three-speed automatic transmission, while driving duties are made easy by the inclusion of power steering and power brakes. There’s plenty of good news for potential buyers to consider, with the transmission and carburetor both recently replaced. The Comet starts easily, with its engine producing no smoke or odd noises. There are no fluid leaks, and the car drives well. For enthusiasts seeking a turnkey classic, this could prove a great candidate.

The Fifth Generation Comet was Mercury’s compact model and remained on sale beyond its planned 1975 replacement date. It has never been considered the most desirable vehicle in the classic market. However, natural attrition means that they aren’t often seen on our roads today. It is unlikely ever to command a huge price, but a tidy example can still gain favorable comments at a show or a Cars & Coffee. This one isn’t perfect, but its next owner could drive it proudly wearing its survivor badge. It could also represent an excellent first restoration project for someone considering dipping their toe into the world of classic car ownership. I don’t think it will take many bids for the price to pass the reserve, but is that enough to convince you to give it more than a passing glance?

Comments

  1. Mike D

    I always liked to look of the Maverick/Comet. Nowadays a cheap entrance to the collector car hobby. Always wondered, though….many cars for sale have A/C that “just needs a charge”. If it really only needs a charge, why wouldn’t the seller do that and sell with working A/C??

    Like 19
    • Joe

      He probably already tried it and it all leaked out very quickly.

      Like 9
    • JustPassinThru

      In California, it’s impossible to buy/use R-12 refrigerant; and converting the system to modern approved refrigerants is probably cost-prohibitive. Like other environmental or emissions systems or non-compliance issues…it may be impossible or prohibitive where it’s at, but taken to another part of the country, it may not matter.

      I like this one, but those huge battering-ram bumpers draw SO much away from the style of the MavCom two-doors. I’d want to put pre-1973 bumpers on it, and bring the ride height to 1971 specs…and thus done, it’s no longer a “survivor.”

      Like 8
      • Psychofish2

        I had mine converted in the Valiant. An old Montgomery Ward Riverside after market unit.

        Not expensive at all.

        ‘I’d want to put pre-1973 bumpers on it, and bring the ride height to 1971 specs’. I don’t think that would be a criminal thing to do.

        The guy across the street has a ’73-’74 Nova with the 68-72 bumpers instead of the federal crap.

        I’d pay extra for that swap, actually, and gain some space in my garage.

        Like 2
  2. Pat

    Ouch, those bumpers

    Like 16
    • Purple sky

      Think they need to be bigger so they’d make a great book shelf. OMG!

      Like 4
    • angliagt angliagt Member

      I call those “Front & Back Porches”.

      Like 5
    • Big C

      Those bumpers are the perfect perch for your beer, when you’re working on charging that A/C.

      Like 2
  3. James Schwartz

    Some of the worst bumpers ever to grace an automobile. UGLY! In contrast, do an image search of an early 70’s Maverick and see how much nicer the bumpers look.

    Like 10
    • OldsMan

      I agree with James. The 70-72 Maverick/Comet was a very attractive car…and aesthetically ruined by the huge bumper shelves. The mid 70’s N.O.V.A. cars, mid 70’s Valiant/Dart and mid 70’s Hornets did a MUCH better job of integrating the crash bumpers…Even the corporate big brother cars – Torino/Montego we’re much better. The Maverick/Comet looks like it has a continental kit in the front! (in my opinion)

      Like 2
    • Psychofish2

      People mock the ’74 AMC Matador 2 door’s free standing bumpers. But theyw ere a better solution to the problem than Ford’s answers.

      The Matador looks a helluva lot better with the 5 mph bumpers than Comet and Maverick did.

      Being panel free, they wore better than full size GM vehicles with those rotted broken vanity panels that disintegrated and warped over time.

      Like 2
    • Robert West

      I’m a big Maverick/Comet fan. It’s refreshing to see a pretty good price on it. These days it seems that everyone who has a 40 year old car or older thinks its worth 4-5 times what it cost new. This one is in great shape. Being a 250 car you can convert it to a 302 and use the existing bell housing.

      Like 0
  4. Connecticut mark

    Easy repair on Air conditioner, I doubt it or they would have re-charged to get their high price and right door does not line up. And the ugly cow catchers.

    Like 2
  5. Steve

    I just can’t get past those battering rams.

    Like 2
  6. Evan

    These Comets, as well as Bobcats and Monarchs, had absolutely no business being Mercuries. They weren’t even great Fords, but to slap the upscale Mercury badge on them was an insult to the brand. Unfortunately, Mercury dealers were positively desperate for something to sell, as full-size cars were being shunned following the first gas crisis.

    A buddy bought a Monarch on a mega end-of-model-year steep discount. It was an I-6 two-door with 3 on the tree, rotting on the lot because nobody wanted it, and he got it for way less than the Ford dealer wanted for a Granada.

    Like 2
  7. Psychofish2

    Such a nice design, destroyed by those heinous Federally mandated bus bench bumpers.

    What a shame.

    ‘I’ve often wondered whether it would have made a better replacement for the First Generation Mustang than the often-criticized Mustang II.’

    I’m not so sure those seats are original factory upholstery.

    https://search.brave.com/images?q=1976%20Mercury%20Comet%20Interiors

    The two tone theme and piping tell the tale.

    Very nice though. A tasteful visual upgrade.

    Yes it would have. Like GM’s downsized FWD Cadillacs and Riviera/Toronado: Ford went wayyyy too far with it.

    Like 1
  8. Tony Primo

    The ad triggered this memory
    https://youtu.be/CkaxBpvRkRk

    Like 2
  9. Big Len

    All the driving pleasure of a shopping cart. 🛒

    Like 3
    • Emel

      with a motor. LOL Detroit was in what seemed to be…self-destruct….mode.
      And indeed it did.

      Like 0
  10. bone

    Well the Maverick came out in 1970 and the Mustang II in 1974, so that wasn’t even a thought . The Maverick was a replacement for the aging Falcon body style, and it could have been the new Falcon , if Ford didnt come up with the confusing 1970 Falcon/Torino twins . The big Mustangs weren’t great sellers and no one knew of the upcoming energy crisis and yet Ford was already planning on downsizing the Mustangs ; which turned out to be the right car for that time period . Sales went through the roof

    Like 3
  11. Richard Kirschenbaum

    We replaced a ’68 Rambler American with a ’76 Maverick and it took but one brief test hop to realize that the American was by far the superior car. The Mav had hard jerky shifts suggestive of a mismatched torque band. Our car came with bias tires which if not replaced with radials made for killer steering (literally!) Just try to negotiate a half replaced asphalt road and have the wheel ripped from you. SBRs should have been standard but were and option. Just and all-around tinny POS. Rusty Jonesing didn’t help much either.
    t

    Like 0
  12. Emel

    Maverick/Comet….more junk out of Detroit….allowing the imports (mostly J) to capture a huge part of the American market.

    Ugly styling + terrible performance + horrid workmanship…..led to
    Detroit becoming a ghost town.

    Like 2
  13. Emel

    78 HP…..LOL…you had better been living in a really flat area of the USA to putz around in this crate.
    Which is why you rarely saw these crates in Western Pennsylvania.

    Like 0
  14. Bob C.

    The 250 six was down to 78 horsepower by 1976? How pathetic! The Chevy 250 never went below 100!

    Like 1
  15. Jackie Hollingsworth

    Not for me…….but it might look good on you.

    Like 0
  16. Ron

    I thought these were great little cars. I bought a new 75 Maverick 2dr 250 6cyl with automatic now power acc. for my wife as she commuted about 70 miles per day to work. It was very comfortable and pretty economical this was beginning days of smog equipment and rising gas prices. She drove it about 4 years and had plenty of power for highway driving for me. I woul love to have another today for myself with the v/8 and 4 speed with bucket seats. It also had very good factory air. Don’t remember spending anything on it other than normal maintenance and tires

    Like 0
  17. philthyphil

    347 5sp and have fun

    Like 0

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