Geoff Stunkard
November 1, 2008
Photos By: John Stunkard

Inside, seats from an '87 Mazda offer great cruising support and a Grant steering wheel gives solid road feel. Chromed skulls adorn the shifter (which is on a modified floorpan due to the transmission), door locks, and cigarette lighter. On a more serious note is the Auto Meter tach and stock gauges. This is a machine that gets driven regularly. If it looks a little used inside, it's only because we didn't give Steve a lot of time to vacuum it out!

Pumped Up
He decided to stick with the 289 engine that came new in the car, dicing it up to a dyno-proven 320 ponies. This included replacement 10:1 TRW pistons and a balanced bottom end, courtesy of the now-defunct LA High Performance. Into this went a streetable hydraulic 0.500-inch lift/280-degree Comp cam kit, which included Comp roller rockers and a roller timing set. To keep the air moving, Steve installed a real twin-four '60s-era Cobra intake from his parts collection topped by two Carter 500 carbs and a custom-hammered airbox that uses a flat filter over the carb throats. These feed the explosive air/fuel mixture to the pistons through a set of aluminum Edelbrock heads. Hooker headers and a full exhaust that dumps just behind the rear wheels finish it out.

Behind the engine is a Tremec T-5 five-speed coupled to a McLeod clutch, which is the major reason that the floorpans were altered. Out back is a stock Ford 8-inch peg-leg housing with a 3.25 gear.

We caught up with Steve at the YearOne Experience at Road Atlanta a few months ago. This event let him try his hand at a variety of courses, including the road course (where the lack of a rollcage prevented him from really screaming down the front stretch). As the photos show, this car was meant to be driven and has some battle scars on the suspension. Seeing this thing in action is a tribute to the era when Comets really did fly.

The Details
Steve Carter's '65 Comet Caliente Hardtop

Engine
289ci small-block Ford (293ci now)
4.030-inch bore
2.87-inch stroke
TRW 10:1 pistons
Cobra intake
Twin 500-cfm Carter AFBs
Edelbrock Performer 5.0 heads
Comp Cam hydraulic flat-tappet cam, 0.500-inch lift/280-degree
MSD Ignition

Transmission
Tremec T-5 five-speed
McCloud clutch

Rearend
Stock Ford 8-inch
3.25 gears

Exhaust
Hooker headers
2-inch dual exhaust tubing
Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension
Front: Martz front frame clip with new A-arms, shocks, and rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: Leafsprings, NASCAR-style shocks, traction bars, and custom antisway bar

Brakes
Front: 11-inch rotors with GM calipers
Rear: Rebuilt factory drums

Wheels
Front: American Racing Torque Thrust II, 17x8
Rear: American Racing Torque Thrust II, 17x8

Tires
Front: Bridgestone Potenza, P215/40R17
Rear: Bridgestone Potenza, P245/40R17

Interior
Grant steering wheel, low-back seats from an '87 Mazda, Auto Meter tach

Exterior
Shaved door handles, most trim removed; silver painted flames over DuPont blue base paint

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