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Drop-Top 390 V8 Project: 1966 Mercury Comet Caliente

From 1960-65, the Comet was Mercury’s compact car offering and lived in the shadows of the Ford Falcon, which sold in much greater numbers. For 1966, Mercury would go in a different direction and promote the Comet to intermediate status to compete in the same space as the Ford Fairlane. The Caliente was the upscale version of the car and this ’66 convertible looks like a project that was started and then stalled. Located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, the automobile is available here on eBay where the bidding sits at $2,550, there is a reserve, but you can advance to the finish line by hitting the Buy It Now button for $3,999. Tip of the hat to Russell Glantz for another great tip!

The Comet would be Mercury’s second attempt at a mid-size car in the 1960s, the other being the Meteor of 1962-63 which looked like a shrunken Monterey. There was nothing wrong with either car, in fact, the ’65 compact Comet participated in a 16,000-mile endurance test that it passed with flying colors. But Mercury wanted to sell more cars, and the all-new Comet for 1966 would result in sales of nearly 159,000 cars, a few hundred shy of the 1965 count, but at a higher price tag. The convertible, with an MRSP of $2,735, would tally up to 3,922 units.

This car currently sits on jack stands in what is probably the seller’s garage (love that floor!). We don’t know its story for the last 55 years or 89,000 miles, but it’s going to take some time and money to get it back on the road. It does not come with its original engine, having a 390 cubic inch V8 from the same model year that would have normally been found in the Comet Cyclone, the performance model. We’re not sure if it runs as the gas tank is out, but a new one is there to be installed.

What the car will certainly need is some cosmetic attention. We’re told the body panels and trim pieces are good, the undercarriage has a few holes caused by rust, which the seller says is largely confined to the rocker panels. The bumpers are rusty, and the convertible top is trashed, but we’re told they’re not expensive to source new. The seats look good and we wonder if they’re upholstered in soft leather (not sure if that was available to the Caliente as an option, but since Mercury is higher up the food chain than Ford, perhaps so).

There is no mention of anything missing, like the hood which may be propped up against the back wall. Hagerty says that a ’66 Caliente hardtop in Fair Condition is an $8,000 car and the seller is looking to get half that amount. So perhaps this is not a bad project to pick up if you aren’t turned off by the rust repairs that are needed. You seldom see one of these cars around anymore and certainly not in convertible trim.


  1. Mike

    Good to have it on floor jacks. Don’t want those tires to get flat spots.

    Like 4
    • Steve R

      It also makes it easier to take undercarriage pictures.

      Steve R

      Like 3
  2. gaspumpchas

    it has the inner rocker disease. Look it over good then decide if you want to take it on. Good luck and happy motoring.

    Like 1
  3. chrlsful

    liked the earlier as dwn sized, one of the 1st of the stacked hdlghts. Really nice grill too. However would not reject this one (as done, just would not hold my interest thru the whole rest0 process).

    Like 0
  4. bog

    Well, it sold. So someone is taking a chance with it. Somewhat of a cosmetic twin to my ’67 Fairlane GTA. Only a 2 year model, as was mine. If it truly comes with the Cyclone motor that was very similar to mine also, 335 HP or so. Was that the key to it’s sale ? FE motor ? Will really take some time and cash to bring back with that undercarriage rust. Have no idea what a good and functional convertible top for these runs. Best wishes new owner !

    Like 0

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