Jim Smart
January 7, 2007
Photos By: Michael Johnson
Steve remained faithful to the Comet Cyclone's original demeanor with a Hurst shifter, a Rally-Pac, bucket seats, a console, and a Cal' Custom-style steering wheel made by Grant Products.
The Price Of Performance in 1965
Shelby 289 high-performance
camshaft kit
$44.95
Dual-quad high-rise induction
setup
$249.50
Tri-Y headers $110.00
Tri-Y headers with mufflers $152.95
Cobra high-rise single 4V intake $64.95
Cobra valve covers $29.95
Cobra dress-up kit $78.35

The Details
'65 Mercury Comet Cyclone
Owner: Steve Zortman, Mt. Wolf, PA

Engine
289ci V-8
4.000-inch bore, 2.870-inch stroke
1M cast-iron crankshaft
Forged I-beam C3OE
connecting rods
Forged flat-top pistons
C5OE-A Ford heads
w/53cc chambers, 1.78-inch intake, 1.45-inch exhaust,
screw-in studs
Ford mechanical flat-tappet
289 Hi-Po camshaft
Weber 48 IDA 4x2 induction
Autolite dual-point ignition
Taylor 8mm ignition wires
Approx. 325 hp

Transmission
Top Loader four-speed
Hurst Competition Plus shifter
Hayes clutch

Rearend
9 inch
3.89 gears
Traction-Lok
31-spline axles

Exhaust
Hedman long-tube headers
Flowmaster two-chamber mufflers
211/42-inch dual exhaust

Suspension
Front: stock coilover upper arm, stock sway bar
Rear: stock four-leaf, Lakewood traction bars,
Gabriel Hijacker air shocks

Brakes
Front: stock drum
Rear: stock drum

Wheels
Front: Steel wheel, chrome reverse wheel covers, 14x511/42-inch
Rear: Coker Tire steel wheel, chrome reverse wheel covers, 14x7 inches

Tires
Front: Firestone S/S radial, P215/70R14
Rear: {{{M}}}&H cheater slicks, P235/60R14

Interior
Red vinyl with bucket seats, console, five-dial instrumentation, rareRally-Pac with 8,000-rpm tachometer, Grant steering wheel

Exterior
Carnival Red DuPont Chroma {{{Premier}}} basecoat/clearcoat, Crites A/FX fiberglass twin-scoop hood

Steve's Cyclone is period in every respect, including the York US30 Dragway sticker from a track that has existed since the post-war years. Those who remember York also remember Maryland's Capital Drag Raceway 70 miles to the south, not to mention Bud's Creek deep in the heart of Maryland. Cyclones like this one were born for drag racing, and we remember them fondly.

Cool Comet Facts
Prior to 1964, the Comet was little more than an attractive upscale economy car for someone seeking plush Mercury nuances in a Falcon-size compact. It offered standard six-cylinder power (170 ci and 200 ci), with two optional V-8s (260 ci and 289 ci). Lots of choices in 1964-'65 included four engines and three interior options. It was an exciting time to imagine yourself in a Mercury.

Because Mercury had a stodgy, luxury-car image with the need for a performance persona, it tried something unconventional. It took five specially equipped '64 Comet hardtops fitted with 289 High Performance V-8s to Daytona Speedway in the Fall of 1963 for some endurance testing. Each Comet averaged 105 mph for over 100,000 miles.

When Mercury hit the airwaves and print media with this news, Comet sales increased dramatically. People wanted not only performance, but reliability as well. The company made one heck of a statement by taking not one, but five Comets on the racetrack and wringing them out like no automaker had ever done before. It spoke volumes and it sold cars. Comet blasted into showrooms ready to sell.

On the heels of its 100,000-mile endurance test, Mercury announced the Comet Cyclone hardtop with a bad-boy persona-less trim, reduced fluff, more performance, and striking Cyclone checkered-flag graphics. It wasn't your mom's classic Comet grocery-getter. It was a little something more. The most powerful V-8 you could get in the Cyclone from the factory was the 225-horse Super 289-4V small-block. Mercury dealers also offered Comet buyers a dealer-installed 289 High Performance Cobra package that included Hi-Po heads, flat-top pistons, a hot mechanical flat-tappet cam, chrome or Cobra valve covers, a dual-plane Cobra high rise or tri-power intake, and more. You could create a Hi-Po Comet with help from your Ford dealer. As we understand it from Comet Cyclone aficionados out there in cyberland, Ford never factory installed a 289 High Performance V-8 in the Cyclone outside of the five endurance cars in 1964. If anyone has different information, we would like to hear from you.

  • Mercury introduced the new Comet Cyclone on January 17, 1964
  • Available as two-door hardtops only
  • Interior colors were Black, Red, Palomino, or White with appointments, depending on exterior color
  • Bucket seats with console
  • Four-speed or C4 Merc-O-Matic
  • Cyclone Super 289-4V only (210 hp in 1964, 225 hp in 1965)
  • Chrome valve covers with Hi-Po open-element air cleaner
  • 7,454 Cyclones in 1964
  • 12,347 Cyclones in 1965
  • Generator-equipped in 1964
  • Alternator-equipped in 1965
  • Optional twin-scoop fiberglass A/FX hood