Modest cleanup of the bodysides gave the 1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone a neater look, helped by vertically stacked headlights and a wide, uncluttered rectangular grille of horizontal bars. Mercury called it an "enthusiast's dream car in every detail," which proved closer to the mark than most such claims.
A console separated the bucket seats, which held upholstery of pleated crinkle-grain vinyl and faced a woodtone three-spoke steering wheel. Special chrome-plated wheel covers wore bright lug nuts. Mercury Comet Cyclone's standard 289-cid V-8 earned a boost to 225 bhp and 305 pounds/feet of torque, running with a four-barrel carburetor and 10:1 compression. Other Comet models used a two-barrel version, rated at 200 horsepower.
Options included a black or white vinyl roof; a performance handling package with more responsive steering, modified shocks and higher-rate springs; and a "Rally-Pac" gauge cluster that put a vacuum gauge and elapsed-time clock atop the dashboard, along with the tachometer.
An engine dress-up kit was standard gear, brightening the rocker covers, air cleaner, dipstick, and radiator cap. Checkered flag insignias went on rear fenders. All told, Mercury Comet Cyclones were starting to look like performance cars -- just as they added the goodies to behave like one.
Motor Trend got a 9.7-second 0-60 time from its 210-bhp 1964 Mercury Comet Cyclone hardtop with four-speed. A quarter-mile dash took 16.2 seconds, reaching 80 mph. The 1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone, with an additional 15 horses waiting, the 0-60 figure dropped to 8.8 seconds. Other road testers weren't quite so quick, taking as long as 11.8 seconds to 60 with the 210-bhp edition. While these were hardly muscle-car figures, the Cyclone's time was soon to come.
Production rose sharply for the 1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone, reaching 12,347 units. Though a laudable performance -- and a harbinger of things to come -- it was still barely a blip in Mercury's total output.
Like the SC/Rambler, for one, early Cyclones ranked as "sleepers" in the muscle car arena, barely noticed behind the GTOs, Hemis, and Super Sports that were grabbing all the applause. Yet Comets and Cyclones were proving their mettle on many battlefields.
Four basically stock Cyclones powered by 271-bhp 289s went to Daytona and drove 100,000 miles, averaging over 105 mph. Meanwhile, a team of Comets ran the rigorous East African Safari. Fewer than 20,000 Cyclones had left the assembly lines in two years, but the name already was established and another generation was on its way.
See detailed specifications for the 1964 and 1965 Mercury Comet Cyclone on the next page.