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The History of the 1960-70 Ford Falcon & Mercury Comet

Throughout the 1950’s, American automobile manufacturers were seemingly focused on increasing the size of their cars with each consecutive model year. As the decade was coming to a close, it appeared that Detroit’s giants had taken their bigger is better war about as far as they could. By the end of the decade, a few factors had the “Big Three” looking seriously for the first time in the other direction.

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Fun Facts

First on the perch
Prior to production, both Ford and Chrysler, seemingly unaware of each other’s intent, were considering the name Falcon for their small car entry into the market. Ford registered the name with the Automobile Manufacturers Association just twenty minutes ahead of Chrysler and won the right to the name Falcon.


A Comet hearse ('57) from the Comet Coach Company

First job
Ford was sold on the name Comet enough to purchase the rights for it from the Comet Coach Company, an established builder of ambulances and hearses.


Jack Christman's 1964 Mercury Comet funny car.

First at the finish line
The first Funny Car, an exhibition dragster developed by Jack Christman in 1964, was a Mercury Comet. The custom fiberglass Comet body sat over a dragster chassis that featured a supercharged, fuel injected, nitro-burning SOHC 427 engine.

Faced with a recession and growing competition from economical European imports, particularly the Volkswagen Beetle, and on the home front, the American Motors Corporation’s compact Rambler, automakers were forced to recognize and respond to the needs of consumers who were looking for smaller cars that were less expensive to purchase and operate.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of Ford Falcon parts, including upholstery, seat covers and interior parts, today.

Under the guidance of executive Robert McNamara, Ford planned to build a smaller, fuel-efficient, economical automobile. The design they came up with, the smallest in their history since the 1930’s, would not only put Ford ahead of their competition, it would also be the platform from which many new models would be launched, including the popular Mustang, throughout the 1960’s and into the next decade.  

The Ford Falcon made its debut late in 1959 and was offered as an inexpensive alternative, both to purchase and operate, to the full sized cars in the Ford lineup. With a limited number of options, the practical Falcon had a 144 cubic inch six-cylinder engine that provided adequate power and good gas mileage. The compact car could seat six in a pinch and sold for around $1,900. By no means an exciting car, the Falcon decidedly beat its competition in part due to its rather conventional design. Unlike the new rear-engine design offered with Chevrolet’s compact car, the Corvair, Ford opted to stick with refining time-tested technology in its design of the Falcon.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of engine parts, including Ford Falcon parts, today.

The 1960 Falcons were initially offered only as a two-door or four-door Sedan, but later in the production year, the Station Wagon and Ranchero were added. Previously part of the full size Ford Fairlane lineup, the Ranchero would continue for the next 6 years as part of the Falcon line.

A few changes for the Falcon in 1961 included a new 101 horsepower engine, a new Sedan Delivery, and a "Deluxe" body trim option. 1962 and 1963 produced a car with less rounded lines, luxury interior choices, and several new models, including the Squire Wagon and the Futura. The top-of-the-line Futura was available as a two-door, four-door, and, introduced in 1963, a Convertible model.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of Ford Falcon parts, including convertible parts, today.

In February of 1963, the Falcon was available with a 260 cubic inch V8 engine and, in an attempt to increase sales, offered options that appealed to a younger clientele. The Sprint option included chrome accents for both the six-cylinder and V8 engines. With bucket seats, a floor console and a floor shifted 4-speed transmission, the Falcon was becoming sporty. Models from 1964 through 1965 followed suit, as Ford sidelined the economic aspects of the Falcon in favor of highlighting the car’s fun and sporty side.

The Falcon featured sleek, angular lines for 1964. In 1965, the last year of the Convertible model, Falcon offered the new 289 cubic inch V8 engine. 1965 is generally regarded as the last year of aggressive marketing for the Falcon. At this time, the Falcon was competing against the immensely popular Ford Mustang.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of Ford Falcon parts, including chrome emblems and moulding, today.

1967, 1968, and 1969 produced nothing but cosmetic changes. Falcon production came to an end on January 1, 1970 after producing 15,700 for the model year. A so-called 1970-1/2 Falcon was produced in extremely low numbers. However, this was merely a stripped version of the mid-size Fairlane/Torino two-door or four-door bearing the leftover Falcon nameplates. The Falcon’s influential concept and design, already apparent throughout the decade as a springboard for Mustang, Cougar, and Econoline, would carry on into the 1970’s in a facelifted form beginning with the Ford Maverick.

COMET

In late 1958, the Ford Motor Company’s recently consolidated Mercury-Edsel-Lincoln division was struggling to recover from the poor sales numbers that followed the introduction of the unpopular Edsel. Ford had just authorized production of the compact Falcon and the management of MEL, considering the same hunch that the buying public would be interested in a smaller economy car, made an argument for their own compact vehicle. Originally slated to be part of the Edsel line, possibly an effort to bolster Edsel’s sales numbers, the new compact was approved provided it shared the Falcon platform and as much from its parts stock as possible.

Known within the company as the Edsel B, the compact shared much of the Falcon’s platform with the exception of having a longer wheelbase and being slightly longer than the Falcon overall. It otherwise would share most of the Falcon’s major components such as the engine, suspension, and basic body shell. In late 1959, the compact, now officially named the Comet, was about to enter production when Ford made the decision to pull the plug on Edsel after the release of the 1960 model year. The Comet project was kept on track, and although it would ultimately be sold through Mercury dealerships, it was initially produced as it’s own model, without the badge of Edsel or Mercury.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet parts, including suspension, brake, and steering parts, today.

Released in March of 1960, the compact Comet was an immediate hit. During the 1960 calendar year, 116,330 Comets were produced. 1960 Comet models included a two-door Sedan, four-door Sedan, and two Station Wagons, available with two doors or four.

The Comet was virtually unchanged for 1961 except for exterior trim and the addition of air conditioning as an option. Late in the season, the S-22 Sport Coupe debuted. It was essentially a stylish Comet two-door Sedan with bucket seats and a console. Over 183,000 cars were built.

By 1962, the Comet line expanded to include three trim levels, Comet, Comet Custom, and Comet Special. This year also marked the first time the Comet was officially branded a Mercury. The cat's-eye taillights were replaced with smaller, round lenses, six on S-22s, and four on lesser Comets.

In 1963, the Comet celebrated its third birthday with the production of its 500,000th car. Comet production for the 1963 model year was 150,694. Power steering was introduced, and the 260 cubic inch V8 engine was offered as an option. 1963 also saw the mid-season introduction of the S-22 two-door Convertible and two-door Hardtop Sportster.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of Comet parts, including carpets, headliners and interior trim, today.

New for 1964, the Caliente replaced the top-of-the-line S-22. The Caliente was available as a four-door Sedan, two-door Hardtop, Convertible, and a Cyclone two-door Hardtop. All Comets featured a Lincoln-inspired grille.
1965 brought impressive style changes in the Comet’s sheet metal. Stacked headlights and angular fenders foreshadowed the 1966 Fairlane design. Model year production dropped to 162,335.

In 1966, the new Capri series replaced the old Comet 404 series. Cyclones and Cyclone GTs were available as two-door Hardtops and Convertibles. Comet calendar year production again dropped, to 153,680.

Changes for 1967 were subtle, however, the Comet received a thorough shakeup for 1968. The only Comet actually available was a two-door Hardtop with a base price of $2,477. The Montego and Montego MX (actually Comet sheet metal with a higher price tag) were only available as two-door Hardtops and four-door Sedans. The Cyclone was no longer available in Convertible form and the Hardtop Coupes were available as Fastbacks or Formal-Roof Hardtops. The 1968 calendar year Comet/Montego production was 149,390.

Shop from MAC’s vast selection of Comet and Montego parts, including convertible tops and vinyl tops, today.

The 1969 Comet/Montego hotshot of the year was the Cyclone CJ two-door Fastback model with a 428 cubic inch V8 engine. In 1970, the Comet was dropped completely and Montegos took over, offering the Montego MX, Montego Brougham, Cyclone, Cyclone GT, and Cyclone Spoiler models. The Comet name would eventually be brought back in 1971 for the Mercury version of the Ford Maverick.  

Let MAC’s help you make the most of your restoration. Whether you need a few finishing touches for your completed classic or are just beginning to sort through your collection of vintage parts from your soon to be Concours, Custom, or Cruiser, we have what you need to complete your dream car. MAC’s has been serving the Ford restorer since 1978 and we carry an extensive collection of Falcon and Comet parts, accessories, supplies, manuals, and literature. Our fully illustrated 1960-1970 Falcon/Comet parts catalog lists 6,974 parts. You will easily find what you need including part numbers, prices, descriptions, number of parts required, and the years of application. Our catalog is free if you have a 1960-1970 Falcon or Comet. Outside the U.S. we do require a payment of $5.00 U.S. to cover the cost of postage.

Restore your Falcon Squire, Futura, Ranchero, Deluxe, Super Deluxe, Sports Coupe, or Comet S-22, 202, 404, GT, Custom, Villager, Caliente, Cyclone, Cyclone GT, Cyclone CJ, Cyclone Spoiler, Voyager, Capri, Sports Coupe, Montego, Montego MX, or Montego MX Brougham with classic, vintage parts from MAC’s Antique Auto Parts. We carry restoration parts for 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1970 Falcons and Comets