Tuesday, June 24, 2014

5k: Mercury, The Mans Car: 1974 Mercury Comet

Ford's Mercury division was first launched in 1938 by Edsel Ford and abandoned by FoMoCo in 2011, but it was doomed from the start.  Mercury was launched as a half-way point between a basic Ford and luxury Lincoln product, but it didn't have the performance cred of Pontiac, the style of Buick, or history of Oldsmobile.  It tried to split the difference between performance, luxury, and price, but ended up being badge engineered Ford product that was only purchased by people who accidentally found themselves walking into the Mercury dealerships scattered across the great plains.  On the other hand, a used Mercury offers a different ride with full aftermarket support of common Ford product with a smaller buyer base to jack the prices sky high.  Find this 1974 Mercury Comet currently bidding for $6,100 reserve-not-met on ebay, located in Ontario, OR with 2 days to go.

I've always had this crazy theory that if you opened a car dealership selling horrible cars at any price you would inevitably have folks stop in and buy your cars (how else could you explain new sales of things like the Mercury Topaz or Kia Rondo).  There seems to be a large segment of the unwashed masses who are willing to drive around and see a car dealership -- remember they need a new car, stop and buy something.  These folks don't do research, check JD Power survey results, or surf Daily Turismo; they literally shop for cars the way a transient finds aluminum cans.  Hey, a dumpster, let's have a look.

In my crazy theory, I even fantasized about selling horrible cars around the country in a partnership with someone like 7-11.  You'd have to get a car like the Tata Nano federalized and then put a set of keys on a cardboard hook at the checkout counter.  The Nano would be parked out front in a reserved spot and you could just swipe your credit card and pick up a Nano with your e-cigs and 75 oz slushie.  If you had a problem within the warranty period (or needed an oil change) you would simply drive to the nearest 7-11 and swap your car for the new one sitting in the lot. 

Anyway, this Mercury Comet is a badge engineered version of Ford's Maverick and as such is powered by a 302 cubic inch (5.0 liter) V8 that puts out 140 horsepower and 230 ft-lbs of torque.

Not only were Mercury's product offerings over the years on the "lame" side, they even had really bad brand mottos.  "Drive the "Big M" (1950s)...mmmmkay...  "Mercury, The Man's Car" (1960's) sexist much?  "The shape you want to be in" (1985–1988)  these cars were overweight and hideous...but it could be worse.  "All this and the quality of a Mercury" (1989–1994)...was Mercury quality ever a good thing or is this statement ironic?  "Imagine Yourself in a Mercury" (1995-1999)...I'd be more likely to imagine myself on Mercury.  "Live life in your own lane" (1999-2004) .. don't worry about using blinkers gramps, it's your own lane.  "New Doors Opened" (2004–2011) irony award of the century for a brand that closed its doors in 2011. 

Final thoughts: this car does offer a bit of classic style for much less than a similar era Mustang, but would you be better off with a Maverick?  tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. I've never owned a Mercury, but there was a bit more to them than badge engineering. While they were built on the Ford platform, they offered style and (relative) exclusivity. In a small town, you'd see the latest Ford everywhere, but rarely the latest Mercury. And which Ford offered Breezeway windows? It was also possible to get certain option combinations on the Mercury that weren't available on the Ford. In the 50s and 60s, Fords were "cheap" cars, while the Mercury was a step up. Mostly marketing? Yes, but isn't that mostly what the automobile industry is about?

    1. My '70 Maverick had breezeway rear windows.

  2. The only flaw, and a small one at that, in your analysis is that there was greater model differentiation in the earlier years. Think a '47 Mercury which had a higher fancier trim level than a Ford....or the early sixties Comets. This espece de merde is just another example of the seventies nadir of the American auto business........with a slushbox to boot

  3. This thing is trying hard to be sharp and not making it. Colors are good but the front is so crooked it looks like the car about to sneeze, the air cleaner stickers are on wrong (seems like they are supposed to go on the vertical curve of the 'pie plate'), the modern wheels look out of place, and single exhaust is not very "GT".


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