Wagons were cool cruisers in the '60s for the same reasons panel vans were cool cruisers in the '70s. we loved wagons for their social atmosphere-partying, cruising, and making out in the back. you just can't beat a good old-fashioned station wagon for family memories as a kid, and those first adolescent experiences when the beater wagon became a family cast-off first car.
What would inspire anyone to buy a classic Wimbledon White Mercury Comet station wagon today? Memories, perhaps. But for Jennifer Bates in the heart of America's Midwest, buying a Comet wagon was purely impulse-inspired by a classified advertisement in the local newspaper. She bit and bought.
The wagon, professionally restored by Kansas Classics and Jennifer's husband, Adam, had been a welder's work vehicle, driven to work every day for many years. It suffered from years of rust and abuse. its original 289 V-8 survives with a simple .030-inch oversize, .010/.010-inch undersize rebuild that has given the matching-numbers small-block new life. Topped with Holley SysteMax heads and induction, the 289 gains new performance and fuel efficiency via Holley's Projection. Good, crisp throttle response is the result. The ever-reliable C4 Cruise-O-Matic transmission is fitted with the full compliment of clutches and other frictions, built locally by the Massey Ferguson dealer. A 9-inch rearend fitted with 3.50 gears makes for excellent cruising.
The hoodscoop is all metal, blended in from a '70 Torino GT hood. Jennifer opted to delete the rear bumper and go with Mustang GT exhaust trumpets. We like the smooth job they did on the rear valance, which is blended into the quarters.
The rear wheelwells were opened up a pinch to accommodate the Cragar Champs and BFGoodrich Radial T/As. This may seem ridiculous with 14x8-inch wheels, but, remember, these cars were fitted with dinky pizza-cutter bias-ply tires when we were young. Opting for the wide side sometimes mandates changes that will keep our rides off the tires. Inside, Jennifer opted for the original bench seat interior with custom upholstery in Patriot Green and cream.
Jennifer tells us she has been interested in Fords since she was a child. At 32, Jennifer remembers the '70s, when these cars were beginning to age and fade from popularity. There were plenty of them in salvage yards all across Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma in those days, which gave Jennifer fuel for future ambitions. This ambition has its original Ford air conditioning underdash, with a Sanden compressor underhood to take the load off.
Not everyone needs to own a Mustang. And when you consider what can be done with a classic Comet ride, we're convinced Jennifer will be rockin' for a long time to come.
1965 Comet wagon
Owner: Jennifer Bates, Valley Center, KS
Nodular Iron Crank
I-Beam RodsHolley SysteMax Heads
Holley SysteMax Induction
Holley Projection Fuel Injection
Shift Improvement Kit
Ford 9-inch3.50 Gears
Front: Lowering Coil Springs (2-inch drop)
Rear: Lowering Leaf Springs (2-inch drop)
Front: Disc Brake Conversion
Rear: Stock Drum
Front: Cragar Champs, 14x8
Rear: Cragar Champs, 14x8
Front: BFGoodrich Radial T/As, P215/60R14
Rear: BFGoodrich Radial T/As, P215/60R14
Bench seatFold-down rear seat
Custom Pleated Upholstery in Patriot Green and Cream
Custom Carpet Coloring
Wimbledon White with Green Pearl basecoat/clearcoat
Torino Hoodscoop Molded into the Steel Hood
Rear bumper deleted with blended-In valance
Mustang GT Exhaust Trumpets