By on September 11, 2014

03 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith a Ford Maverick sedan as yesterday’s Junkyard Find, it seemed only right that we follow up with the Maverick’s Mercury sibling (which I photographed in the same junkyard, on the same day). Today’s Malaise Era Ford is rough but more complete than yesterday’s car, so let’s crank up >one of the few good pop songs of 1977 and study this phenomenon.
06 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe ’77 Comet’s straight-six engine, which is a 200-cubic-inch unit making about 7 horsepower (actually 96) or an optional 250 (which made just 98 horses but quite a bit more torque than the 200), required patience on the part of the driver, especially with the AC on.
09 - 1977 Mercury Comet Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Comet had a somewhat sportier-looking grille than the Maverick, and the base sticker price for the six-cylinder sedan reflected such upgrades by being 70 bucks higher than the Maverick’s.


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45 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Comet Sedan...”


  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    The 2 door versions of these stable mates looked a lot better than the sedans. The sedans just looked unpleasingly stretched out.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Poor old thing .

    It reminds me of the battered Senior Packards and Buicks from the 1920’s I saw in junkyards growing up ~ not necessarily worn out but used up and battered then discarded .

    The Advert was cute .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Times change. Imagine a 15-mpg “economy” car. SUVs do better than that today…MUCH better.

    Appearance: The Comet suffered as much as the Maverick with the Federalized chrome-plated railroad ties mounted front and rear, with ride height “adjusted” to suit regulators’ fancy. As originally intended, the Comet was the beauty-pageant winner – the only differences were grille and taillights; but both were an improvement over the Maverick.

    I don’t usually look at four-door cars with an eye for style – they’re family conveyances; but impractical as this four-door was, my opinion is it pulled it off, style-wise. The two-door MavCom body shell was generally slick, but I never cared for the cabin perspective – maximum interior height right at the top of the windshield and then tapering back immediately. Too much like a whale’s body. A more Mustang-esque cabin might have worked; of course, the MavCom was drawn up in the height of the Coke-bottle Era.

    Fuel inefficiency aside, I always liked Ford sixes. You can’t kill them, unless you run them dry of oil. Bulletproof…what a cheap economy car needs if it wants not to be a throwaway.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      Yes, the Ford I6 had a very stout bottom end, unfortunate the primitive cylinder head design, with it’s integral intake manifold, and dead simple single barrel carburetor, made these things wheezie and shaky. Imagine trying to breath though a straw. I have no idea why so many of these I6 cars were sold, the performance was crap, and the gas mileage was crap. For a couple hundred bucks more you could get a small block.

      Ford of Oz managed to develop proper cylinder heads for these engines and the Australian I6 engines became fine performers. In the US we got none of it. It boggles the mind that Ford North America was flogging such crap in the US and Canada when they HAD proper economy engines in their European and Australian models. It showed complete contempt for their North American customers.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        The nascent emissions laws prevented Euro or Aussie engines from being imported or copied. They could have been fitted with the junk of the era; but EGR and other modifications tended to make the engines run hotter and rougher. Perhaps the Eurospec engines were not up to it; or perhaps the Ford engineers feared they weren’t.

        The American engines were much more stout than anything designed for European use; part of it was the greater use, more driving; and part of it was the greater likelihood of neglect. Those engines…I want to say they evolved from stationary powerplant designs, but if they didn’t, they were surely designed with that use in mind. And did see such use…seen Ford sixes used as ferry-boat power about that time.

        • 0 avatar
          skor

          The 144/170/200/250 I6 engines were used in passenger cars only. The Ford 240/300 I6 (an excellent engine) was used in trucks and as stationary engines. Oh, for many years UPS delivery vans used the Ford 300 I6

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            So what about the Ford 200 that has served our Owatonna swather faithfully for nearly 40 years?

          • 0 avatar
            skor

            Are you sure it’s not a 240? Easy to tell, if it’s got a bolt on intake, it’s a 240.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            It’s a 200. We’ve got the manual that came with the engine when we bought the swather in ’76.

            Further research confirms that the Ford 200 was also available in New Holland and Versatile swathers throughout the 70s.

            Even further research suggests, though, that it was an “industrial model”, so I don’t know if it was just the standard Ford 200 sold for a different market, or if it had minor modifications, or if it was a different engine entirely that happened to have the same displacement. We could both be right here. Further research is required.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Actually the 240 was the standard engine in the Custom, Custom 500 and Galaxie from the mid-60’s to early 70’s. Popular with fleets, taxis and base police cruisers.

            Yeas ago I was chatting with a ski slope operator about his snow and slope smoothing vehicle. He told me that it had the Ford 200-6 and would rave how torquey and reliable it was. It was probably desmogged for commercial use. He even bragged “eh, the same motor in the Maverick”

          • 0 avatar
            Roader

            Good, yeah. Excellent? No. The 300/six in my ’88 F-250 is reliable and torquey but that’s about it. Not much power and crappy (for its size) gas mileage. A cross-flow head would have helped, but even better would be ordering the truck with a 7.3 diesel, which many did.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            What was the difference in the truck Inline engines and the car ones?

            I think the 300 would be a good choice for one of these. The Comet weighed about 3000 pounds. A 1977 F150 shortbed has to be pushing 4500-5000 pounds.

            I’d assume that the 300 would make for a fiery little Comet!

            Of course, I’ve never driven a Carbed 300. The EFI one would seem to be a good fit for even the larger Panther cars. Reliable, sturdy, and easy to maintain. Has to be good enough for Ben Matlock!

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I think Volvo, Mercedes, and BMW would have a strong argument that European engines were NOT less stout than American ones of this era. Crap is crap. Decent engines lasted a long, long time on both sides of the pond.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My brother bought a non-running 75 Comet. Turns out the I6-250 had thrown its pushrods off the rocker arms. We fixed that – replacing a couple of them – and the car ran for years.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Semenak

      It took awhile to get up to speed but, I got pulled over by Michigan State Police doing 98 in a 55 zone. He wrote me up for 64 in a 55. This happened on the Seney Stretch in the Upper Peninsula.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I would think a 200 six and automatic in one of these rather small compacts could do better than only 15 MPG! My 79 Fairmont with the same combo could see up to 22.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    Interesting how even in the late 70s Mercury still kept some interesting ‘sci-fi’ touches in the tail lights and general features. Before the market bifurcation in the late 1980s due to real wages declining Mercury had some really interesting designs that were never more than variations on their ford counterparts but sometimes you wonder if they were getting the better end of the styling stick.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    The dash pad was made in Canada by Uniroyal. Whaa?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    When I was a kid, my neighbor had a Maverick. What I remember about it was, though it wasn’t a bad looking car, it really wasn’t good at anything. It wasn’t roomy. It wasn’t small and economical. It wasn’t fast. It didn’t ride well. One thing that struck me is the speed of the windshield wipers relied on the speed of the engine. The neighbor told me that this was because the car had a generator and not an alternator. We had an older car with wipers that functioned just like the ones we have today.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      All Ford cars sold in North America had alternators starting with the 1965 model year.

      • 0 avatar
        70-Tbird

        Could they have been vacuum operated still in the early 70s? my Tbird from 1970 is hydraulic. They are run off the power steering pump. They work great 45 years later.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          They were not vacuum operated – I know this as we had a 1974 in our family; and later a friend (in HS) had a 1970 Maverick as his first car.

          Moreover the Falcons had electric windshield wipers. What was unusual about them was the linkage, where instead of both posts, right and left, linked directly together; they were both tied to the bellcrank but at an offset. So they would not reach their top and bottom travel at the same time, but about ten degrees off.

          As to the varying speed…sounds like there was a bad voltage regulator in there somewhere. Fords of that era were sticking with MECHANICAL voltage regulators, even with alternators; and those would gum up and fail.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      My friend’s mom’s Maverick and Comet both developed the windshield wiper linked to engine speed thing as they got to be about a year old or so. I thought at the time, and still do, that it was due to a bad ground or maybe too small size of the wires going to the motor and corrosion in a connector. I always wanted to jump a wire to the wiper motor from the battery and see what happened, but I never did. Another thing the wiper motor did was cause tremendous amounts of RFI that could be heard on the amazingly bad AM radio the Mav had. When they got the Comet later on, it had a better, AM/FM radio, but on AM it had the same “ARRRRR-ARRRRR-ARRRR-ARRRR!” sound. What crap those cars were.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Semenak

      I have owned a 76 Comet and a 77 Maverick. Actually fairly room as a 4-door. We used to cruise in it in High School (Class of 1978). Gutless even when the Transmission was shifted manually but, when my friend reached over to up-shift into Drive after I had, shifting into Neutral wide-open; no damage done. Only way to chirp the tires was using the Emergency Brake… LOL

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I didn’t think the Comet lasted until 1977, I thought the Maverick and Comet were finally killed by their arguably just as bad replacements (the Granada and Monarch) in 1975.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No, the Granada and Monarch were supposed to be the replacement for the Maverick and Comet but it didn’t end up that way. The energy crisis made Maverick sales increase and they had also seen an increase in the take rate of the LDO or luxury decor option. So they took the new cars up market in price and soldiered on the old cars for the budget minded and fleet crowd. I think it is the first case in the modern era in the US where a vehicle continued on along side of the vehicle that was supposed to replace it.

  • avatar
    iamcanjim

    My first car was a 1982 Mustang with a 200 ci (3.3 L) engine with a 3 speed auto. My best friend got a 1980 2.3 4 cyl mustang with a 4 speed standard. I ribbed him endlessly about how my car had a real engine…until we lined up to race. He easily beat me. Later, I learned the 3.3L had 88 hp compared to 92 hp in the 4 cylinder. In the Comet above the 3.3L was archaic, in my Mustang it was a museum piece.

    Later I learned that the 1979 Fox Mustang got the Cologne 2.8 L engine, but low supply forced them to use the 3.3L for 1981 and 1982. By 1984 the 3.8 L was available.

    I always wonder why any customer would specify the 3.3 I6 over the 2.3 I4. The I4 was more powerful, lighter and far better on fuel. The only advantage to the 3.3 was torque.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Semenak

      I had one too. Your right about it being sluggish though, at least, it didn’t have A/C. Easy to work on though. Straight-6 had lots of room on both sides of it in the engine bay.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    What happened to crab spirits?

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    These seemed to last longer than other malaise era cars. I knew a couple of people in high school that drove Mavericks (1994) and a couple people in college into the late 90’s that were driving them as well.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    “one of the few good pop songs of 1977”

    That made me find a list of the Billboard top 100 singles for ’77.
    More than a few iconic tunes there. Whatever happened to the Atlanta Rhythm Section? They had a lavish studio mix, brain-palpable.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    Stevie Wonder – meh
    1977 The Clash – London’s Burning, Iggy Pop – Lust for Life and
    The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks here’s the Sex Pistols.
    God Save the Queen we mean it man!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    The integral head Ford I-6 was (IMO) a worthless P.O.C. however it not only powered cars and light trucks , it was a *very* popular Industrial/Stationary engine ~

    We had scads of them in Welders , APU’s , Trash Pumps , Chippers and so on .

    Very sturdy and reliable when run at specific speeds for days on end .

    Amazingly low power engines that I still hate to this day .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    roger628

    The 302 was the only way to go in these.
    BTW that isn’t an AC unit as implied, it’s an Air Injection Reactor (A.I.R). It pumps fresh air thru the combustion chambers to try and get a cleaner burn. This car has no AC.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Many of these were driven by little cougars.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    That’s a leopard.

    Quite a difference between that and the ’84 Tempo.


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