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!
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.
Steve Carter's '65 Comet Caliente Hardtop
289ci small-block Ford (293ci now)
TRW 10:1 pistons
Twin 500-cfm Carter AFBs
Edelbrock Performer 5.0 heads
Comp Cam hydraulic flat-tappet cam, 0.500-inch lift/280-degree
Tremec T-5 five-speed
Stock Ford 8-inch
2-inch dual exhaust tubing
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
Front: 11-inch rotors with GM calipers
Rear: Rebuilt factory drums
Front: American Racing Torque Thrust II, 17x8
Rear: American Racing Torque Thrust II, 17x8
Front: Bridgestone Potenza, P215/40R17
Rear: Bridgestone Potenza, P245/40R17
Grant steering wheel, low-back seats from an '87 Mazda, Auto Meter tach
Shaved door handles, most trim removed; silver painted flames over DuPont blue base paint