In 1964, the Mercury Comet was leapfrogged by the Tempest, when the F-85 and Special were upsized in wheelbase and overall length, gaining larger and more powerful engines, and joining the Fairlane and the new Chevrolet Chevelle in the midsize field. Still, if the Comet had come off as a big compact before, it now looked like a small intermediate.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd
In 1964, the Mercury Comet's smaller size was in competition with the intermediates.
At 203-203.5 inches overall, the Pontiac, Olds, and Buick middies were substantially longer than the Comet, but their shared 115-inch wheelbase was just an inch greater. All now rolled on 14-inch-diameter wheels, up from 13 inches (except for the Tempest, which had used 15-inchers before).
Thanks to a one-inch increase in width -- 1.2 in wagons -- the Comet closed to within 1.9 to 2.4 inches of its 1964 GM competitors; in 1963, the Tempest and F-85 had been wider by 2.8 and 3.3 inches, respectively. Except for rear leg room, where it enjoyed a 1.4-inch advantage, Comet's interior dimensions were a virtual copy of the Falcon's. Even then, the small Mercury provided about a half-inch more front head room than the GM trio, an inch more rear leg room than the Tempest, and essential parity in front and rear leg room with the F-85.
The in-house competition with the Ford Fairlane was also close. At 195.1 inches long and 71.4 inches wide, 1964 Comet coupes and sedans were just 2.5 inches shorter and .8 inch narrower than the Fairlane. The 115.5-inch-wheelbase Ford boasted a more-spacious cabin, especially in hip room, though front head room was even at 38.7 inches. They shared most engines, too.
Comet received a major external makeover for the 1964 model year. While this coincided with a similar transformation of the Falcon, Mercury's compact sported smart new looks that tied it visually to the senior members of its own division, including the luxurious Lincoln Continental.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd
The Comet began flexing some muscle in 1964 with the arrival of the Cyclone two-door hardtop. Limited brightwork, simulated chrome-reverse wheels, bucket seats, a tachometer, and a three-spoke steering wheel were among its features.
The convex grille was divided into eight fine-mesh sections separated by a grid formed of thicker bars. A bright frame with rounded corners ringed the grille and horizontally mounted headlights. Body-color sheetmetal surrounded the grille out to bladelike fender edges. Add in the low, wide "plateau" stamped into the hood and the Comet nose suggested a scaled-down Continental, a look that was still very much admired.
The blunt front fender edges and an unbroken fender line made the car look a little fuller than before, and a rear-pointed tip at the trailing edge of the fender line began a transition away from the stubby tailfins of 1962-1963. Stylists avoided strict slab-sidedness with dartlike bodyside sculpting that broadened toward the back of the car and a tubular structure stamped in the rear quarters.
At the rear, new one-piece horizontal taillight lenses were used on sedans, hardtops, and convertibles. However, in a nod to styling continuity, each lens featured three raised round pods, the center pod available for optional back-up lighting. Mounted between the lenses was a bright trim panel that replicated the pattern seen on the grille.
Wagons received a similar treatment, albeit with twin-pod lenses. On coupe and sedan models, a center-fill gas door blended into the rear-end brightwork. (Wagons continued to get fuel via the left rear-quarter panel.)
Read more about the 1964-1965 Mercury Comet's makeover on the next page.
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