Purchased in 1979 between my junior and senior years of high school when I was 17, it was my dad that brought about the purchase of the Comet, I have to admit I would not even be able to tell you what one was at the time, I actually wanted a Falcon.
My dad owned a body shop and he had a lot of old guys come in with little issues with there cars and he would help them out, an old man owned the Comet (I believe he bought it new) and he had been in the shop with it so dad was familiar with the car, the old man died and the Comet ended up at a used car/junkyard that my dad dealt with from time to time, one day out of the blue he told me he found a car for me, I wasn’t even looking for a car, I was driving an old Ford cargo van my dad had bought that had been hit in the back and I liked it ok, but it wasn’t mine, I had probably mentioned a time or two that I wanted to buy my own car, dad said he was selling a bumper to the guy and wanted to know if I wanted to go look at it, so I went, there were a lot of cars in that lot but the Comet is the only car I remember, I fell in love with it immediatly, dad struck a deal with the guy, the old bumper and $350 (he was asking $400), dad joked on the way home that he thought he would only get $30 for the bumper but the guy gave him $50, I told dad I guessed I would pay him back $380 for the Comet then and he said ok. I worked that summer and every time I got paid I gave dad $25 until it was paid off (I know $25 doesn’t sound like much but I was probably getting $75 a paycheck, if that). He signed the title over to me, I felt proud to own my very own car and I never abused it but treated it like it was a new one.
Even though the car was only 15 years old when I bought it always felt like a classic to me. It is really nothing special, a totally stripped-down base model Comet with a 170 I6 and three-speed column shift (I learned how to drive a stick shift with the Comet), no radio, no power anything. It is really amazing that the car had never had anything done to it, it still had the radio delete in place, basically, everything was original, I thought it was the coolest thing and for a country boy, it symbolized freedom, the ability to go where I wanted when I wanted as long as I could afford gas and tires.
Through the years the Comet was my daily driver off and on she never left me stranded except one time when the water pump failed, dad happened to be going to work behind us and stopped and picked me and my brother, who was with me, up, we went to town, picked up a replacement and changed the water pump in someone’s driveway and drove it to work only a little late. Around 1985-86, when I had a full time job and a second car, I decided it was time to do some modifications to the Comet that I had always considered sacred and not to be modded, but then I thought to myself that the car is not a collector’s item, value meant nothing to me because I was never going to sell it so I may as well have what I wanted.
Sometime, probably during the summer break between high school and my first year of college, I purchased a dual out header from Clifford Performance because my original exhaust manifold was cracked anyway. Not so much a permanent mod because you could easily go back to original, this was before I came to the realization that I could make the car I wanted, I wasn’t destroying a classic, and if I was I didn’t care.
So the first real mods happened in that ’85-’86 year I had already mentioned, the 170 engine was pulled and totally rebuilt this is some of the stuff done to the car at that time;
Offenhauser Triple 1 barrel INTAKE
3 Autolite 1100 CARBS
264° Clifford CAM
Mallory DUAL POINT DISTRIBUTOR
A new Clifford 6 into 2 HEADER 2″
8″ DIFF. out of a ’72 Maverick w/4.11 GEARS
7/8″ FRONT SWAY BAR and a REAR SWAY BAR (maybe 1/2″)
TOP LOADER 3 SPEED and a HURST INDY H Floor Shifter
I also added some mid-’60s GM bucket seats I had pulled out of a Ford pickup in the junkyard (Nice diamond-stitched red velour)
This is basically the configuration the car was in when it was parked and it never gave much trouble as a daily driver after I switched carbs from Holleys to Autolite 1100s.
PERSISTENT BRAKE ISSUES
The day I brought the Comet home it had brake issues, they kept me from driving the car until I got the dad seal of approval that it was safe for the road (seemed like an eternity that I would adjust them and he would come home from work and drive it and tell me to try again)
One summer after I graduated high school I was driving to my grandparents’ house with my brother and stepped on the brake to turn on the road to their house and the brake pedal went to the floor, no pumping them up, just zero brakes, needless to say, that was an exciting few seconds, but I used the parking brake to drive 12 miles back home to discover I had blown a front wheel cylinder, this happened to me at least one more time before I figured out the issue was the drums were so worn they allowed the pistons to blow out the ends of the wheel cylinders as soon as the shoes got a little wear on them, I bought some new drums and solved that problem.
The final thing that sidelined the Comet was in the early ’90s when I developed a spongy brake pedal, I thought it was master cylinder so I bought a replacement and when I put it on the car I could not push the pedal down at all when I finally tore the car apart this last time I discovered the issue was collapsed soft lines but I was changing all of that.
I wish I would have dug deeper into the brake issue at that time but I was trying to build a house and nearly every free moment was devoted to that, many issue got worse on the Comet as it sat for so many years.
THE NEW BIRTH
I won’t go into depth too much here because I will repeat myself elsewhere, but in June 2018 I shoved the Comet into the shed with the tractor and started the current modifications where I finally demonstrated I was done with keeping the car stock. A few of the current mods;
Fully Modified ’77 Maverick 250 cid inline 6 with “M” Flat Log Head
Custom cast aluminum 3×2 intake with 3 ‘83 Ford Escort 2BBL Progressive Carbs
Fabricated/modified rear sump oil pan
Stainless dual out header
Ford DS1 distributor, 4 pin HEI ICM & matching coil
’96 3.8L Mustang T-5 transmission
‘09 Crown Vic aluminum driveshaft
MII fabricated crossmember with Manual R&P steering
Triangulated 4-link rear suspension
Narrowed ‘98 Explorer 3.75 trac-lock rear
Manual air ride system with paddle valves
Lincoln Town Car 4 wheel manual disc brake master
KYB Gas-A-Just shocks
Original 7/8” front sway bar
American Racing TTII staggered wheels with P225/60R16 rear & P195/65R15 front tires
Dual stainless exhaust with 14” Cherry Bomb glasspacks
Airtex electric fuel pump
’68 Mustang 22 gallon gas tank
Return style fuel regulator
Aluminum radiator for late ‘60s big block Ford
Bottom floor pans sprayed with 2K bed liner
I have fabricated many parts for two reasons, I like making stuff and a lot of stuff is not available. Comets are a bit rare and Comets with MII front suspensions, air ride and a 250 cid motor and T5 transmission are even rarer.