V8 Survivor: 1971 Mercury Comet GT

The ’70s was a time of “What about me?” badge engineering. The Chevrolet Nova spawned the Oldsmobile Omega, Pontiac Ventura, and Buick Apollo. Over at Mopar, the Plymouth Duster begat the Dodge Demon, and Ford’s new for ’70 Falcon replacement, known as the Maverick, allowed Mercury to whip up their compact version using, once again, the popular Comet name. We’ve covered Ford Mavericks here on Barn Finds but fifth-generation Mercury Comets don’t grace our web pages often. That said, here is one fine-looking ’71 Comet GT for your review. This Mercury Comet is located in Freeport, New York and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $7,100, reserve not yet met.

Ford’s venerable Falcon, after ten years, morphed into the Maverick for 1970 but under the new skin and name badge, it was pretty similar to the old tried and true Falcon. The following year, Mercury took the Maverick and altered its hood, grille, and taillight panel, and voila, they too had a new compact based on those same time-tested underpinnings. And the move worked for both Ford and Mercury as 272K Mavericks rolled off the assembly line in ’71 while Mercury enjoyed sales of 83K for the Comet in that inaugural year – not bad!

While not a flat-out Muscle car, but still a speedy ride, the Comet was available with a 210 gross HP, 302 CI V8 engine that provided plenty of go for a 2,800 lb. coupe and that’s how this Comet GT is equipped. The seller states, “Runs and drives could use maybe a carburetor rebuild…” OK, so maybe this 118K mile example needs some tinkering but if this Merc has been maintained and not abused, it should still have plenty of life to it. A three-speed automatic transmission handles gear changes.

This Comet is the performance-oriented “GT” version but it’s all visual including a color-keyed hood scoop, dual racing mirrors, wheel trim rings, stainless window frame trim, a blacked-out grille, a side stripe, bucket seats, deluxe door panels, and a black instrument panel. This example presents as new! The seller claims that it is rust-free with all original metal and, about 25 years ago, it enjoyed a repaint. Apparently, it has been well stored as this GT looks like it needs nothing. The white-stripe tires are a nod to this car’s era even if they are an incongruous styling cue with the projected performance image.

Inside is a curious blend of colors with red fabric/vinyl seat upholstery, red door panels but black carpet, kick panels, and dash. It works pretty well, especially as a complement to the white exterior, it just seems like a bit of a mix and match. There is some sign of wear but it’s minimal and totally in keeping with a half-century-old automobile. Until I observed the interior, I forgot about the convenient shelf that runs along the width of the dash, just below the bottom edge.

The seller suggests, “a good clean car to cruise with or go to car shows, etc.” Considering that this is a V8-powered example, I’d agree and would certainly be less sanguine about a six-cylinder-equipped version. I guess the challenge would be to leave this Comet as is and not mess with it. I have to ask, when was the last time you saw a Mercury Comet GT from this generation?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Thanks Jim. This looks like a solid car, the V8 makes it a bit more desirable. The very similar Maverick Grabbers have a following, this would be much of the same, just not as common. They were basic economy cars, lots of us had experience with them, they largely did their job as intended. For this Comet, enjoy as-is or upgrade as you go.

    Like 11
  2. Moparman Member

    I had a co-worker who traded in this exact car for a ’77 Datsun 200 SX. Really nice example. Personally, I’d change the wheels, fix the mechanicals and add a dual exhaust and then ENJOY!! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 11
  3. Troy s

    These and probably more often the Maverick were the cheap used rides us teens bought in the eighties, as noted they were economy cars first and foremost, but I will say the amount of Comet GT’s were fairly low.
    And they looked cool with aftermarket wheels.
    Luke warm at best factory stock, the potential is there for lots more. Between this or the Pinto lookalike Bobcat I’ll take the Comet every day of the week.

    Like 6
  4. Paul Skaggs

    My first vehicle in 1980 was a 73 Comet w/302 2v, auto trans. Sport top. Highland Green w/White vinyl top. Tan interior, for 900.00. Had to replace the C4 trans once while I owned it. It would get on down the street for what it was. 2nd car was the Oldsmobile Omega. Lol

    Like 2
  5. Jcs

    Three simple words. Great looking car.

    Ok, nine. Sorry.

    Like 6
  6. Howard A Member

    Nice car, but not a GT, I don’t think. What I think this is, is someone GTized a regular V8 Maverick. GT’s had that callout on the side stripe, had a tachometer and gauges below the dash, and dual exhaust standard. Clearly a black interior, they took the seats, door panels and hood scoop from the GT parts car.
    Still, one of the most unappreciated cars from Ford. Just couldn’t shake that “big Pinto” image, and lived in the shadow of the Mustang, but they were actually fun and quick, dependable little cars, while I’d never spend $9g’s on one, it’s still a great find. Very few grandmas Mavericks with a V8 survived. ( It was the motorhead grandson that talked her into the $74 dollar extra, or whatever, V8 option in the 1st place) I can hear it now, (me), “grammy, can I take the car to the um,,,library”? (grammy) “Sure sonny, just be careful”,,,”Oh, I will” and it was off to Union Grove,,,library,,

    Like 4
    • Doug

      I owned 2 Comet GT’s back in the day, they were “real GT’s” and neither one had dual exhaust, tach, or the gauges you describe. They did have “Comet GT” inside the stripe on the front fenders. These cars felt a lot faster than they actually were thanks to the low end torque of the 302, really fun to drive. The front end would really jump up when you got on it.

      Like 8
    • Don Eladio

      Howard A., I commend you for your imaginative, creating writing skills, though not a fan of your incorrect use of lots of commas in lieu of periods. However, you are totally wrong. No Comet (or Maverick) EVER came from the factory with dual exhaust. The largest engine available in any Comet or Maverick was the anemic 302 2bbl. They never had gauges hanging under the dash either and, I doubt a tachometer was even available. These were not, by any means, performance cars. Simply stripe packages with a fake hood scoop.

      Like 10
      • Howard A Member

        I’m not going to argue with you, images I found, show the GT with all those options I mentioned. As far a my punctuation, it’s been said before, the “grammar police” have no place here, most of us gearheads did poorly in school anyway, I don’t recall anything mentioned on how to power shift a 4 speed. Sorry, if, that, bothers, you.

        Like 1
    • DON

      The ad says it all. Its a GT, but the car was repainted at one time. So with repro stripes not available, they got as close as they could. The tail panel should be matte black too, but it looks like they did it in gloss black. As stated by others, no Maverick or Comet came with tach or gauge package. The interiors could come like that; the inner doors are painted steel with a smaller door panel .
      They also never had a “big Pinto” image ; the cars sold like hotcakes, easily outselling the same year Mustangs and Cougars by a huge margin . But like the Falcons before them , they were considered disposable compacts ,and few were saved. They did what they were supposed to do, and when used up, they went to the crusher.

      Like 8
  7. Vance

    Good eye Howard A, I thought something didn’t look right. Man, small bumpers make all the difference with this car. It looks so much cleaner without the block like things that were coming.I was only 8 when these came out, but remember how Ford cut ever corner. They gave a new meaning to plain jane. I agree on the 9 large, too pricey but still nice.

    Like 1
  8. Don Eladio

    The Falcon was still around for 1970, alongside the Maverick for the first half of the year. Mid-year in1970, Ford introduced the new “Falcon” as a 1970-1/2 model. It was a stripped down, bare bones Torino…and the best looking Ford ever produced, in my opinion. When equipped with the 429 SCJ and Drag Pack option, it was one of the most brutal cars ever manufactured.

    Like 3
  9. John

    This car is obviously cool, but it looks like it’s missing some fender flares or tail fins or just something that could make this car look special
    What could you do to make it stand out
    Any imaginative thoughts????

  10. bone

    I always thought it was funny that the Pinto and Maverick had the same taillights and the Comet used Montego lights. Ford must have save millions on that alone !

    Like 2
  11. Frank

    As a college student, driving a 68 Falcon with a 170 straight six, I thought this and the Maverick Grabber were just about the coolest things when they came out! Forget the fact that under that body, it was probably exactly the same as my Falcon, it was all about style! Ford dipped into their parts box, and transformed the cheap Maverick/Comet into a desired automobile. Ok, perhaps you had to have been around to understand, but in 1971 I would have gladly driven this!

    Like 3
  12. karl

    The “convenient shelf ” is there for a big reason – there’s no glove boxes on these early model Maverick / Comets !

    Like 6
  13. MDY

    I purchased, ordered, actually, a Comet in this same color. Mine had the beige interior and a 3-speed manual on the floor. I think it was a $15 option to move it to the floor. I also ordered a handling package (front sway bar) for around $20 and the V8. No radio. Comet GT did not come with dual exhausts nor a tach nor guages under the shelf. I have a copy of the 1971 Mercury Comet brochure in my hot little hands. The V8 was an optional engine, even on the GT. The GT package came with color-keyed hood scoop, dual racing mirrors, wheel trim rings, blackout grille treatment and lower back panel, dual body tape stripes, hood paint treatment, bright window frames hi-back bucket seats, deluxe door trim panels and black instrument panel. Take a 2700 lb. coupe, add a 300 HP 302, a 4-speed and a 3.50 rear gear and have some fun! I did.

    Like 8
  14. Carbuzzard Member

    I wrote an article about one of these about 20 years ago and it truth, it was a “poor man’s Mustang.”

    One interesting aspect: Even the GT came standard with four-wheel drum brakes. I drove the car as part of the “research” for the article, and going down a long Pennsylvania hill the owner told me, “You’re going to feel the brake pedal start to pulse. Don’t worry about. It’s just the drums getting out of round as they get hot.” Yep.

    Like 2
  15. Robt

    Up to $14,100. as of now.

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