The 1966 Mercury Comet powertrains available during this time varied widely. All Mercury Comets through this era (including station wagons) came with a choice of two base engines. The more economical choice was the 200-cubic-inch, inline, pushrod six rated at 120 horsepower. The more powerful alternative was a 289 V-8 rated at 200 horsepower.
Beyond them in the catalog of 1966 Mercury Comet powertrains was a choice of optional 390-cubic-inch V-8s with two-barrel carburetors, one rated at 265 horsepower for use with manual transmissions and the other at 275 horsepower for automatic-transmission cars.
This is a replica of the Cyclone GT picked
to head the field for the 1966 Indy 500.
The standard transmission for six-cylinder models was a manual three-speed with an unsynchronized first gear, but a fully-synchronized three-speed was included with V-8 Comets. Options included the Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic three-speed automatic and, for V-8-equipped cars (wagons excepted), a floor-mounted four-speed stick.
The Comet's sport/performance series was the Cyclone, available only as a bucket-seat hardtop or convertible. The latter body style was new to the series. (All Comet convertibles came with glass rear windows and five-ply fabric tops.) Cyclones came with the two-barrel 289 V-8 as standard equipment.
Available for the Cyclone was a GT option package with a 390 V-8 tweaked to deliver 335 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 427 pound-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. The GT 390 had free-flowing dual exhausts (in place of the single pipe that came standard with the other Comet 390s) plus a hydraulic camshaft with 0.48-inch valve lift instead of the standard 0.40.
Compression was pegged at 10.5:1, a full point more than on the tamer big-blocks. The GT's four-barrel Holley carb boasted 1.562-inch bores, and the package included chrome engine trim and a twin-scoop fiberglass hood. The scoops were non-functional.
The Cyclone GT's standard gearbox was the all-synchronized three-speed with floor shift. For an additional $188, you could order "four on the floor" or, for $2 more, the GT's exclusive Sport Shift Merc-O-Matic. The three-speed Sport Shift, as opposed to the Comet's conventional Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic, had selector slots for first and second ranges, so you could hold the tranny in low or second for as long as you wanted. When so equipped, the hotter Cyclone was known as a GTA.
Not many people knew that the 1966 GT came
with a 410-horsepower engine.
Included in the GT package were heavy-duty springs, shocks, and stabilizer bar; "power-booster" engine fan; heavy-duty 5.5-inch wheels with 7.75 × 14 nylon-cord tires; rocker stripes; and special insignia. The Cyclone GT's base price came to $2,891, and fully loaded with extras like four-way power seats, clock, tachometer, power windows/brakes/steering, and AM/FM radio, it wasn't unusual for the GT to top $3,500.
A Cyclone GT convertible was chosen to pace the 1966 Indianapolis 500. Perhaps due to pace-car publicity, Mercury sold twice as many Cyclone GTs as standard Cyclones that year -- 13,812 GT hardtops and 2,158 GT convertibles versus 6,889 Cyclone hardtops and 1,305 Cyclone ragtops.
Comet station wagons, meanwhile, were not especially hot sellers; fewer found owners than did Cyclone GTs. Both wagons boasted dual-action tailgates, a new feature also found on Fairlanes and full-sized Fords and Mercurys. The two-way tailgate was standard on Villagers, but cost extra on Voyagers. The Voyager had plain body-sides, while the Villager came with "walnut" Di-Noc side and tailgate panels.
Both wagons stood on a 113-inch wheel-base (as opposed to 116 for other body styles) and, with the second seatbacks folded, had 109.5 inches of load length. Cargo capacity was 85.2 cubic feet plus an additional 8.5 cubic feet beneath the rear deck. Both wagons offered all-vinyl interiors plus optional rear-facing third seats with safety belts, roof racks, and electric rear windows.
On the next page, find out why the Mercury Comet featured stacked headlights but other cars in the family didn't.
For more information on different types of cars, see: