Jim Smart
October 4, 2006

Thirty-four years ago, baby boomers were invited to come aboard the "Love Train" by the O'Jays-a popular two-minute-and-59-second tune that got us hitting the dance floor in great numbers during the youth-inspired '70s. That's how some boomers met and married their mates a generation ago. However, prior to boarding the Love Train as young adults, we did something called the "Wagon Train" during the sing-with-me "My Dog's Better Than Your Dog..." Kennel Ration '50s and '60s.

Those were wholesome years, weren't they? They read like a heart-warming Disney flick peppered with that vanilla documentary music we laugh like hell at today. The perfect little family with three clean-cut kids bailing into the station wagon for a Saturday picnic and trip to the zoo. Life was good. The future showed promise. Flipper and Lassie were on prime time. And Uncle Sam protected us from the bad guys. Gives you goose bumps, doesn't it?

Behold a product of the era that made boomers so controversial-the '65 Mercury Comet Villager station wagon. Seems like there was at least one of these in every neighborhood from coast to coast during the mid-'60s, but nothing could be further from the truth. To see even one of these during that period would have been extraordinary. Of the 152,705 '65 Mercury Comets bucked and assembled in the United States, just 1,592 were Villager wagons. That makes this 31,000-original-mile Villager wagon more rare than the Cyclone, the Caliente convertible, and the 202 station wagon. This low number makes it even rarer than a '69 Boss 302 Mustang and just about every Shelby Mustang you can think of.

Mary Mansfield and her husband, Daniel, discovered this Villager at a car show in 2004 and just had to have it. The Ohio couple knows and loves Comets. They have two others-his and hers Cyclone hardtops. What appealed to Mary most wasn't the car's rare Villager status. It was the color. Everything else, including the low mileage, was secondary. The car was extraordinary-with a showroom-new persona, ready to take the family for a ride in the country. Mary's always ready for a drive with her husband, with a picnic lunch packed and ready, eager to cruise, happy to reminisce about the good old days. Relaxing under the trees with sandwiches, potato chips, pound cake, ants, and a Comet wagon melt away years of change. It's 1965 again, with an innocence regained if only for a couple of hours.

Covered in Mercury's Ocean Turquoise with a Turquoise two-tone interior (Ford Division called it Twilight Turquoise), by today's standards it looks mighty utilitarian-rather stark -missing a lot of the amenities we've grown accustomed to on automobiles since. In 1965, it was a step up from its corporate cousin, the Ford Falcon Futura. The Mercury compact had a little more chrome, a pinch more upholstery, lots of bling across the dashboard, additional sound deadening, and more. This one has wire-style wheel covers, heavily sculptured skin, borrowed nuances like stacked twin-set headlights reminiscent of Pontiac, six simulated fender port holes like Buick, a functional roof rack like Chevrolet, and a whole lot of decorative anodized aluminum trim like Chrysler's finned warriors. Mercury did its striking Comet with the legendary style of Detroit in a grand era.

As you might expect from a loaded Mercury Comet, there's V-8 power beneath the bonnet-the 225-horse 289-4V mill along with a C4 Merc-O-Matic and 2.80 cogs in the 8-inch rearend. This enabled young families in the '60s to get going quickly on those short freeway onramps-remember those?-and your dad looking over his shoulder to the left for a glance at oncoming traffic before nailing the accelerator. At cruise, these little guys didn't do badly at 18 mpg in an era that also had 30-cents-a-gallon premium fuel available from coast to coast.

The Mansfield's Villager isn't your typical Mustang & Fords modified ride because it doesn't have to be. Call this one a rolling nostalgia ride that most of us who fondly remember the '60s can relate to. For the Mansfields, it remains a symbol of their affection for one another, and a target of opportunity whenever temperatures moderate and the sun comes out. See you under the trees.

How Was the Living In 1965?

- Lyndon Baines Johnson was president
- The Green Bay Packers won the NFL championship
- The Rolling Stones brought us "Satisfaction" for the first time
- The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series
- Robert McNamara, father of the Ford Falcon and former Secretary of Defense, called for a nationwide network of nuclear bomb shelters.

'65 Comet Production Facts
Comet ModelNumber Produced
Comet 202 2-dr sedan32,425
Comet 202 4-dr sedan23,501
Comet 202 4-dr station wagon4,814
Comet 404 2-dr sedan10,{{{900}}}
Comet 404 4-dr sedan18,628
Comet 404 4-dr station wagon5,226
Comet Caliente 4-dr sedan20,337
Comet Caliente 2-dr hardtop29,247
Comet Caliente 2-dr convertible6,035
Comet Villager 4-dr station wagon1,592
Total152,705

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The Details

'65 Mercury Comet Villager
Owner: Mary Mansfield, Guysville, OH

Engine
289-4V V-8
4.000-inch bore, 2.870-inch stroke
Nodular iron 1M crankshaft
Forged I-beam connecting rods
Cast flat-top pistons
Two-bolt main C5AE block
Autolite 4100 four-barrel carburetor
Autolite single-point/vacuum advance distributor

Transmission
C4 Three-Speed Merc-O-Matic

Rearend
8-inch
2.80 gears

Exhaust
Factory single exhaust

Suspension
Front: coil over upper arm, gas shocks
Rear: four-leaf system, gas shocks

Brakes
Front: 10-inch drum
Rear: 10-inch drum

Wheels
Front: 14 x 5.5-inch steel with wire-style wheel covers
Rear: 14 x 5.5-inch steel with wire-style wheel covers

Tires
Front: P205/78R14 white sidewall radials
Rear: P205/78R14 white sidewall radials

Interior
Interior Decor Group in Turquoise two-tone

Exterior
Comet Villager with all the trimmings

Picnic Equipment
Charming woven basket with pimento loaf sandwiches, Utz potato chips, Safeway pound cake, two six-packs of Coca-Cola, a bottle of wine, cherry pie with fly, classic red checkered tablecloth, a blanket for chilly days, a jar full of mosquitoes, and the gentle smell of blooming honeysuckle in the wind

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