H-Code 390 V8 4-Speed! 1966 Mercury Comet Caliente

I don’t think of a “muscle car” as also being loaded with options, usually they’re bare-bones street machines meant to strike fear into the driver next to you at a stop light. This 1966 Mercury Comet Caliente has almost broken whatever tiny shard of mind that I have left. It’s listed on eBay with, shall we say, spirited bidding and a current bid price of over $13,000 and there is no reserve. It’s located in Buckeye, Arizona.

Those stacked headlights get me every time. It’s a Chevy/Ford or paper/plastic thing whether a person likes stacked headlights or not. This car has a great, menacing look to it, just the thing for those stoplight surprises. All is not perfect, however, as you can see from this photo of the trunk. That looks like it may be more like goop or glue rather than rust?

1966 was the first year of the redesigned and bigger Comet which was now a mid-sized car. The seller has this listed as a “true barn find” but they don’t mention it in the ad copy so I’m not quite sure where they found it. It’s a two-owner Arizona car that has been garaged its whole life and the paint sure looks good for being 42-year old paint that has been in Arizona. I would lose the exhaust extensions instantly, but that’s just me. It’s not a sleeper with exhaust extensions and this car deserves to run under the radar in my opinion.

Good grief, what a fantastic interior, eh?! You Chevy guy and gals, please tell me that you can at least appreciate this car. The features and options on this one are what truly make for an exceptionally-desirable car. First of all, it’s a 4-speed manual transmission. Power windows and power seats on a Comet?! Yes, please. How about Factory AC? Yes, although the compressor has gone AWOL but it sounds like the rest is there. How about great looking dash on an Arizona car that doesn’t appear to have anything wrong with it at all? The back seat looks perfect, too. Headliner in great condition? Check.

Here’s where the action happens. This H-Code 390 V8 would have had a 2-barrel carb and it would have had 265 hp. I’m not sure if any modifications were done to it over the years but it sure looks tidy in the engine compartment, overall. It’s unusual that the left side is nice and clean and shiny but the right side shock tower is dirty and dull? A partial detail job maybe? The chrome air cleaner and yellow plug wires would go away maybe quicker than the exhaust extensions would under my watch, but I like things original spec whenever possible. They say that it’s “presumed to be over 300 hp” and I would not doubt that one bit. What do you think about this options-packed, power-packed Comet?

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Comments

  1. grimmmr

    Dirty passenger side could be from a heater hose that let go. Notice the lines are cut at the firewall and A/C compressor is missing. Interesting. Beautiful car, would love to run it through those gears!

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    Nice car, Scotty! A four-speed, factory A/C car would have been pretty rare, back then.

  3. Danger Dan

    As a connoisseur of consoles this one takes the cake. You won’t see that one again! I never have.

  4. Steve R

    Nice car. Interesting set of options, power windows, power seat, AC, 4spd, console, posi, power steering but manual drum brakes.

    Throw on a vintage set of 15×7 torque thrusts and drive it.

    Steve R

  5. Rube Goldberg

    Caliente, in Spanish, means “HOT”! And this car was it. While I never cared for stacked headlights, this was my least favorite rendition, these were fast, reliable, fancy cars. Many drag racers had a lot of success with these. Don Nicholson is credited with the 1st flip up body funny car, with his Eliminator I Comet and changed the sport, to this day. This was a tick above a fast Falcon or Fairlane. After all, it was a Mercury.

  6. Troy s

    Good looking Merc, I really like that shifter, basically the whole interior is pretty cool. Leave it as is and drive and enjoy.
    Originally, this was just a nice driver with a 390 2bbl, not fast and really not intended to be.

  7. Bob

    I have a 67 390 H code convertible, but with the C6 instead of the 4 spd, and although it doesn’t have the top end that it would with the 4 barrel, it is a great driver and launches really well.
    I have the bench seat, and always thought that this bucket seat and console were one of the prettier ones to come out of Detroit.
    The first Comet I remember seeing was an airman that ordered a brand new 427 powered Hard top. That was a pretty car, with the buckets and console, that went like stink.
    By looking at the pictures, this looks like a really nice car, and I would love to have it. I am still kicking my butt, because I could bought a Fairlane 4 door hardtop with the 335 HP engine, in mint condition, for $1000, and I passed on it.
    Bob

  8. Kevin Lee

    I had an aunt that had one just like this one, with the same drivetrain and paint color. Summer of 1978, we took a trip to California for a vacation, and visit relatives, being from there originally. Somewhere in the middle of New Mexico, my aunt ,who was about 65 years old then, passed us on the highway like we were sitting still! We were in a 1969 Chevy station wagon, with a 350. Dad floored the gas pedal, but we never could catch up with her, lol!!! That Comet was with her til she died several years later.

  9. Jieinthousandoaks

    I believe I saw this car on Craigslist about a month ago listed for approximately the current bid. I LOVE stacked headlights on GTOs but these aren’t doing it for me

  10. RoKo

    Is it 2008 right now or shouldn’t that paint job be 52 years old?

    1
  11. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I like it. First new car was a 67. Looked at Chevelles, Fairlanes and Comets among others. I thought they were good looking in the day and still do.

  12. Scot Douglas

    I’ve had two 66 Fairlanes and think it’s still one of the most beautiful cars Ford ever built. This comet… not so much. Looks like they pasted garish ends on to try to make it more upscale.

    • 86 Vette Convertible

      Personally I think it’s like the Mustang vs Cougar debate. Each was targeting a slightly different audience and this I think was intended for the slightly more affluent audience.

      My opinion.

  13. Classic Steel

    Very nice muscle car grocery getter in a stock brown wrapper . The four speed is cool!

  14. Boatman Member

    Scotty, you didn’t mention that the carpet needs “deep cleaning”!

  15. Angrymike

    I’ve really like these since my father’s beater comet back in the mid 70’s. Back then you paid a couple hundred bucks for a ten year old car that had minor rust, and drove it though the winter and then sold it.
    My father’s was a 289 car, but as I remember it impressed my father so he kept it two years. Dad had bought a 69 Road Runner new that never saw snow until my sister got ahold of it.
    Those were good times for the buying public and I think back to the 200 dollar cars my father bought and wish I was older then.
    Another car he stole from it’s original owner for $200, was a 61 Impala convertible with a 283, it was silver with a red top and int and was beautiful, he said the floors were shot so he just sold it for a bit of profit, that was another car I hold dear in my heart, it looked perfect, but Ohio weather got to the floors.

  16. MrF

    Agree with everything you’ve said, although I could do without the vinyl roof myself. The trunk looks fine to me, just a little glue. (I may be jaded as the former owner of a 68 Montego with a trunk floor of plywood and roofing shingles. Rust was an issue.)

    • KKW

      All cars had rust issues. Metal rusts.

  17. DrinkinGasoline

    The Gentleman’s Cyclone.

  18. Rick Rothermel

    I wish I had a place for it. Never seen one of these ‘loaded’, and it’s a set of whitewalls and poverty caps away from being a serious ‘sleeper’.

  19. Mountainwoodie

    White interiors give me the creeps…..dont know why. I’m sure it is original but it just doesnt look right; especially the console. But certainly might be the only one at the weekend geezeramas.

  20. MIke

    Another “barn find “ that looks perfect. I don’t think many chickens were near this car. When I hear those words, I usually look away. So tired of hearing that and “rat rod”. Seems like those phrases means the seller is asking more than its worth.
    Btw. It does look like a nice car.

  21. robhall74

    I just can not stand it when people run messy plug wires! WHY!? Why do they do that? Drives me batty!

  22. Graeme

    There are only three things preventing me from picking this beauty up—the money to buy it, the distance, and the space to store it.

  23. LAWRENCE

    Most likely a “show room car” with those options. A Marti report should be purchased for this one……nice rare car there….like !

  24. Desertbinder

    Marti doesn’t offer reports for Mercury’s. Watch for this car to hit Barrett Jackson in January

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