With advertising still touting the 1964-1965 Mercury Comet's endurance records, Lincoln-Mercury Division sent Comets on another publicity-seeking mission. On September 12, 1964, a trio of 1965 Caliente hardtops was dispatched north from Ushuaia, Argentina, at the southern tip of South America. With nothing much more exotic than snow tires to help where needed, they rolled into Fairbanks, Alaska, on October 22, having covered 16,247 miles with no repairs other than routine maintenance.
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By the end of 1965, the Mercury Comet truly was an intermediate on a longer wheelbase and with the capacity to hold bigger engines.
Production was off by almost 25,000 cars for 1965 -- due in part to a new compact from brother division Ford that had a lot more performance potential: the Mustang. Still, with increased demand for its all-new full-sized cars, Mercury hit a record for model-year production.
In the end, there’s still the question: Was Mercury trying to make its compact take up the Meteor’s slack? Car Life said as much when evaluating the 1964 model. “Economics and internecine competition being what they are, FoMoCo product planners determined that an upgraded Comet could best fill the Meteor void at less cost in dollars and inter-divisional sales,” the magazine stated.
There would be no doubt in 1966. The all-new Comet truly was an intermediate on a longer wheelbase and with the capacity to hold bigger engines, which let Cyclones participate fully in the midsize muscle car boom of the late Sixties.
The timing was right; the intermediate field had grown in 1965 with the addition of the Plymouth Belvedere and Dodge Coronet. The Comet name would fade as the midsize Merc was eventually transformed into the Montego. Not until 1971 would Mercury offer another true compact, but it, too, would wear the Comet badge.
Read more about 1964-1965 Mercury Comet's weight, price and production on the next page.
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