Triple Threat: 1963 Mercury Comet

Four door sedans often times get a lukewarm reception here at best. Especially meek-looking little cars such as this 1963 Mercury Comet. This one has a surprise lurking under the hood, however. And no, it’s not a V8 but you’ll want to see it. This car is listed on eBay with what seems like a very low buy-it-now price of $3,800 or you can make an offer. It’s located in Lakewood, New Jersey. Let’s check out this sedate little sleeper.

I love the first-generation Comet. My grandpa had almost this exact same car but in Ford Falcon guise. It was fantastic and it solidified my love for these unassuming cars. It was the same color, same interior, same engine.. well, as you’ll see in a bit, not too many of these cars had the engine that’s in this one.. (he says, almost forcing you to scroll ahead!)

Hagerty is at $4,700 for a #4 fair condition car, I’m not sure why this one is $900 under that? The body looks good, much better than most that I have seen recently. The seller got it from a mechanic who lost his shop so it was a motivated seller situation. Since then they have put on “a full set of shocks about six months ago. The brakes were worked on before I got the car, and work fine. Mileage appears to be original, there is even a yearly inspection sticker from 1972 in the windshield.”

This interior looks great to me, it makes me scratch my head even harder as to why this car is priced so low. There isn’t a photo of the back seat but I’m guessing that it’s at least as nice as the front seat is, which is basically perfect. Hagerty’s #3 good condition value is $6,500. Unless there’s some glaring hidden issue here this asking price seems too good to be true.

Did any of you expect to see anything like this under this unassuming little hood? I did not and it’s as cool as (insert unacceptable cuss word here). After the current owner got this car he “pulled the engine and did a full head and valvetrain cleaning. I also set up the Offenhauser 3-carb setup for this engine.” The bad part – “currently the outboards are dummied into position, they need some setting up. Running on the single carb, its not quite a drag racer, but the dual glasspack exhaust has a nice sound.” No worries, you can figure that out, this car has to have all three carbs working, not just sitting there. This is the 170 cubic-inch inline-six which would have had 101 hp, I’m not sure how much it’ll have after they’re all working. What do you think of this car? It’s surely worth $3,800!

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Comments

  1. Ron

    Those carbs and manifold belong on that Custom Zephyr in the last article. Very trick idea though. But sometime you have to ask yourself why not put your time and effort into something that is going to be at a higher level. Just a thought

    6
  2. KSwheatfarmer Member

    I,m with you Ron , why would anyone do this to the engine of a 4 door grandma car?

    2
  3. Fred W

    Granny cars make the best sleepers…

    18
    • Steve R

      If it’s not fast, it’s not a sleeper.

      Steve R

      3
  4. Fordguy1972

    Love to have this clean little Comet as an everyday driver. Probably decent on fuel and plenty of room for a few extra passengers. Doesn’t look like it needs much apart from carb work. Somebody should snap this one up soon.

    7
  5. Rube Goldberg

    Well, without going the small V8 route, which would require a lot of work, this is one way to get any oomph out of these anemic motors. I’d at least make the carbs work. I had a car like this, only a ’62, I think, with a 144 and 2 speed auto, one of the many $100 beaters I had. It was a cheap thing, and when the gas pedal was pushed to the floor, it just got a bit louder, but didn’t gain any speed. Junkyards were full of these, it’s cool to see someone saved one. As far as the speed equipment? That’s a bit odd for this car.

    4
  6. Mark S.

    I wouldn’t have let it out the shop door without all three of those carbs working. What were they thinking! Without them it’s just a loud six-banger.

    5
  7. Beaver Member

    I would get all three carbs working and go have a little fun Maybe a little clear coat and a good set of grabber tires then show the rice burners what a grams car could do but that is just me!!

    3
  8. Ken Carney

    As I recall, some of these multi carb setups used some sort of vaccuum
    unit to open and close the outer carbs. GM had something like that on
    their multi carb set ups in the late ’50’s and early ’60’s. Had one on a ’62
    Olds Starfire hardtop I had in highschool. In theory, these things worked
    great, but in the real world they were very troublesome and gave their owners many headaches. Mine broke going down route 66 leaving all
    the carbs wide open! The damned car kept accellerating and wouldn’t
    slow down! We were running about 115 before it dawned on us to just
    shut the engine off. Found out it was a vaccuum hose that broke and
    didn’t allow the outer 2 carbs to close properly. If it were mine, I’d ditch
    those carbs in lieu of a standard 4-barrel carb and manifold or maybe
    an aftermarket EFI unit if possible. I do remember seeing the folks at
    Peterson Publications install a 4-barrel carb setup on a new Maverick
    in the very first edition of The Big Ford Book in 1970. Must’ve worked
    out okay or else they wouldn’t have sold so many of these kits. Think
    it was Eddlebrock that offered these back then though I’m not really
    sure about it now. (been about 50 years since I last saw one) If you
    went that route, you’d have a very reliable engine with a lot more oomph.

    1
    • BOP Guy Member

      Ken, you hit the nail on the head! Yeah, you see so many GM cars from the early 60’s with tri-power at auction, with everyone ogling over them. There was a reason GM put out an across-the-brands end to them. They were a huge pain in the ass! Constantly needing work and adjustments. Plus with the “new” Rochester Quadrajet carb actually producing more power, it was a no brainer. But they’re still really cool to look at and discuss. I would’ve LOVED your Starfire! That one year only body styling of the 62’s is absolutely beautiful in hardtop or convertible, and are on my top 10 list of GM favorites.
      As for this cool little Comet that has already sold, great car! I’ve always wanted one of these early models, and someone got a great deal unless there’s some undisclosed problems. Fix the carbs and drive as-is, or sell them off (someone would probably pay a small fortune for the tri-carb unit), put it back to stock and drive & enjoy. Great to see a four-door that has survived the years!

      1
    • 63Comet

      The intake is integral to the head on the smaller Ford sixes. Upgrading to a 2v takes the kind of work I did here: http://www.herbelgarage.wordpress.com
      For a 4v, you’d have to reach out to vintage Inlines for their aluminum head.

      2
  9. Ensign Pulver

    Every time I see a Comet all I can think of is our 63 white on red Comet wagon. In winter my mother would pile us 4 kids in the wagon, start the car and let it warm up…..in the garage with door down!!! When all was good and ready, the one with highest oxygen flow would get out and open the door. An Irish gal from NY City that had little car + garage experience. She’s still going at 93 so maybe she was on to something!

    3
  10. Gaspumpchas

    Problem is the stock manifold is cast into the head, to mount another manifold you had to cut into the stock manifold, and they still didn’t work that well. I heard that someone has made a head for a 250 that has removable manifold,someone in Australia? Not sure if that head will fit a 144,170, of 200??? I have worked on tons of these and you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s*it!! Anyhoo I like the sleeper idea, good luck to the new owner!!!

    2
  11. Lee Packer

    It would draw more Lookers at a car show than one more ,Chevelle, the way it is

    4
  12. chad

    Gaspumpchas,
    yes, cross-flow head gets over 500 hp outta the 200 (I have the 250 or 4.1 in a ’66 bronco). U can get 1 frm Matt at vintage inlines dot com in Michigan.

    For this 1 tho – it’s an Offy. No not vacuum, it’s a rod linkage. Gotta adjust the rods (either all in same time or as most, outters don’t ‘go on’ till later toward WOT). I set it up in the latter style and put the glass bowls on those 3 1904s (or is it 1940s?).

    6
  13. Jeffry Harris

    Oh the memory’s are flowing today, and i am no exception.I had a 63 1/2 hardtop 170 four speed. Rebuild the engine at a friends shop, he installed a cam with an MGB grind on it. (i have no idea why he selected it) It would wind up, seemed fast enough. It was originally white but painted a metallic blue which fated to as sort of silver. I decided to wet sand it out to the org white but never finished so it was white, blue and silver. It rode like a dream so we nick named it the “Cloud Car” or on other days the “Car Bomb” Passed it on to a late teen who was looking for something interesting, She finished the paint in Pearl white, It was beautiful.

    2
  14. Wrong Way

    Back in the early 70’s I bought one like this except without the triple carbs! Mine was white with red interior! I paid $300.00 for it then and it was in much better shape than this one is! I would never have believed that some day one would sell for this much money! LMAO, they say hind site is 20/20?

    1
    • Miguel Member

      The Ebay listing didn’t say the car sold, just that it ended.

      Did anybody notice the salvage title on this one?

  15. Beatnik Bedouin

    Yes, Scotty, it does have two too many doors for my taste.

    Setting up a three carb manifold is pretty easy, if you know how, and that Offy rig and the headers would make a serious difference, even to a 144 or 170 Special. A three-speed would also help performance, but it still wouldn’t be tire shredding.

    A bit of trivia on the Comet: It actually started life as Edsel’s compact until the marque was killed off in 1960 (see image of the prototype). This explains the ‘cat’s eye’ taillights of the early models.

    3
  16. Phillip Tenney

    There is now an aluminum head made for this series of engines that is supposbly readily available.

  17. 007

    Daring to be different is why more people can enjoy our hobby, I’d like to have it in my driveway beside my ’63 sub-framed Comet Vert !

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