Advertisers spend millions of dollars annually trying to create brand loyalty. From the toothpaste and deodorant you buy to the car you drive, their goal is to convince you to buy their product. However, we doubt that advertising played much of a role in Chip Crenshaw's brand loyalty. Crenshaw is a welder/estimator living in Central Florida and a dedicated member of CAMEO, Inc. No, it has nothing to do with classic, ladies' jewelry. CAMEO is the Comet and Mercury Enthusiasts Organization and trust us, Chip is as enthusiastic as they come about his Mercury Comet. As a matter of fact, he owns four of them, each completely restored and meant to be driven. In addition to their styling, Chip likes the awesome power-to-weight ratio you can achieve when you upgrade these lightweight cars with a big, modern powertrain. He has attended the last five Hot Rod magazine Power Tours, relishing the time spent behind the wheel of his blazingly quick Comets. His latest, this '74 Indigo Black and Sublime Green two-door, has recognizable Comet sheetmetal, but underneath, its new personality is loaded with high technology and state-of-the-art refinements.
With the help of his good friends, Bill Roberts and Alex Alvarado, Chip set out to make this latest car one of the best ever, with show worthy and road worthy the two most important considerations. To create a rock solid platform for the planned new motor, the chassis was reinforced front to rear with 1x2 rectangular steel tubing, incorporating cross bracing and custom-designed, hand-fabricated crossmembers. The Comet shock towers were eliminated to accommodate the new wider engine and a Rod and Custom Motorsports Mustang II front suspension, with tubular A-arms and Eagle coilovers, was added to solve the space crunch. A new power rack-and-pinion steering was added for driver comfort. Out back, traction bars and Gabriel shocks stabilized the 9-inch Currie rear. The team trimmed a Mustang fuel tank to fit the space in the modified frame and all four wheels were upgraded with oversize 11-inch disc brakes. Crenshaw chose 15x6 Weld polished aluminum rims up front and 15x8 versions in the rear, using BFGoodrich 60 and 65 series rubber to get the power to the ground.
All that was a preliminary effort to handle the potent new Man-O-War, 427 Windsor block from World Products. The four-bolt-main block uses Eagle I-Beam rods, forged Mahle 10.5:1 pistons, an Eagle forged steel crank, and a Comp Cams hydraulic roller setup. Breathing is enhanced thanks to a hot rodder's dream sheet of aftermarket parts that began with the Air Flow Research 205 heads, a Trick Flow intake manifold, a 90mm Accufab throttle body, a 4-inch PMAS mass air sensor, and a 10-inch K&N cone-type filter. Igniting the air/fuel mixture occurs thanks to precisely timed explosions from the MSD 6AL ignition and MSD Blaster II coil. Carefully modified 13/4-inch headers allow for steering shaft clearance and dump into a mandrel-bent, 21/2-inch stainless steel dual exhaust. Thanks to the X-pipe and a pair of Flowmaster three-chamber mufflers, the 427 creates a throaty performance roar when you hit the loud pedal. Keeping temps in the green, an oversize Griffin dual-pass radiator with an 18-inch electric fan attacks any heat buildup. In order to control the almost 600 hp, the team installed a Lentech four-speed AOD transmission and a 3,400 rpm stall speed torque converter, along with a Lentech shift kit.