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My 1961 Comet Pages
1960 - 1969
VIN & Dataplate Decoder
1959 - 1968
1960 - 1965
The Story of the Edsel Comet?
The Comet was developed as a compact car for the Edsel line. But with the Edsel brand eliminated before the 1960 model year, Ford released the Comet as a seperate model, that was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers. The Comet was based on a stretched Falcon frame. The sedan's wheelbase of 114 inches suggested intermediate, but Mercury positioned it as a compact.
Robin B Jones, Chief Comet Designer
Thanks to Bill Adams of Comet East Car Club for allowing me to use excerpts from his interview with Robin B Jones
......Jones related that his work on the Comet began one day when he was summoned to the office of his boss. He was to design an Edsel version of the Falcon. However, it was to be longer and more stylish. He styled the cat eye taillights to resemble the Edsel's, but not as cantilevered. He said the roofline gave them a problem for a long time until he finally decided to take a cue from the 1960 T-Bird. Thus, the car we all celebrate was born. The first name given to the new compact was "Baby Edsel", but was later christened "Comet" by Ford CEO, Ernest Breech. Jones has owned several Comets, his favorite being a black 1963 S-22 convertible.
Edsel Comet Prototype for 1960
Ernest Breech, Ford CEO who first coined the name Comet
The Comet continued as its own model (not a Mercury) for 1961, but the big news was the introduction in late 1961 of the S-22 model. The S-22s were 2-Door Comets with the addition of Moroccan vinyl bucket seats, a center console, a unique stainless spoked steering wheel with a S-22 center, upgraded carpeting, unique rear quarter panel emblems, undercoating, and special stainless full wheel covers. The standard powertrain was the 170 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine coupled with the two-speed Comet Drive automatic.
Sometimes it's difficult to find replacement auto parts for classics like the Comet. Owners of recent models can visit online auto parts stores such as PartsGeek.com for replacement auto parts, but classic model owners need to scour the internet for replacement parts.
Edsel Comet Prototype for 1960
More Edsel Comet Prototype Pictures 1960
Above are 2 photos of the 1961 Comet Prototype from November 11th 1959.
Proposal for 1961 Edsel which was never produced. The last Edsel was 1960.
Don Dunaski (Supervisor at Edsel Division), signed "Dunaski, 4/16/58"
The Comet officially became part of the Mercury line in 1962.
Time Magazine article from November 30th 1959
that links the Comet to the Edesl
The $250 Million Flop.
Detroit had expected it for months; last week Ford Motor Co. finally had to make it official. The company dropped its medium-priced Edsel, introduced only two years ago. Said Ford, in a pained announcement: "Retail sales have been particularly disappointing, and continued production of the Edsel is not justified, especially in view of the shortage of steel." Ford's hand was forced by a stock prospectus issued by the Ford Foundation, which plans to sell another 2,000,000 shares of Ford stock (worth some $155 million) in order to diversify its holdings. Included in a list of company products was a footnote on Edsel: "Introduced in September 1957 and discontinued in November 1959." Once that got out, Ford had to speak out, though it had planned to hold off until all Edsels in dealers' inventories were sold. It really did not make much difference. As of last week, only about 2,800 of the "all-new" 1960 Edsels had been made. To mollify those few customers whose cars are now orphans with low trade-in value, Ford offered a $300 certificate to be applied against the purchase of any other Ford product. Right "Personality." What happened? As it turned out, the Edsel was a classic case of the wrong car for the wrong market at the wrong time. It was also a prime example of the limitations of market research, with its "depth interviews" and "motivational" mumbo-jumbo. On the research, Ford had an airtight case for a new medium-priced car to compete with Chrysler's Dodge and DeSoto, General Motors' Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick. Studies showed that by 1965 half of all U.S. families would be in the $5,000-and-up bracket, would be buying more cars in the medium-priced field, which already had 60% of the market. Edsel could sell up to 400,000 cars a year. After the decision was made in 1955, Ford ran more studies to make sure the new car had precisely the right "personality." Research showed that Mercury buyers were generally young and hot-rod-inclined, while Pontiac, Dodge and Buick appealed to middle-aged people. Edsel was to strike a happy medium. As one researcher said, it would be "the smart car for the younger executive or professional family on its way up." To get this image across, Ford even went to the trouble of putting out a 60-page memo on the procedural steps in the selection of an advertising agency, turned down 19 applicants before choosing Manhattan's Foote, Cone & Belding. Total cost of research, design, tooling, expansion of production facilities: $250 million. A Taste of Lemon. The flaw in all the research was that by 1957, when Edsel appeared, the bloom was gone from the medium-priced field, and a new boom was starting in the compact field, an area the Edsel research had overlooked completely. Edsel's styling, in particular the grille, which resembled an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon, was not much help, even after the lemon was removed. In its first six months Edsel made 54,600 cars, and then went steadily downward: 26,500 cars in 1958, fewer than 30,000 cars so far in boom-time 1959.
Actually, Ford will not lose its entire investment. Of the total, $100 million went for production facilities, which will be used to produce Ford's second entry into the compact-car field next spring. As a running mate for the Falcon, Ford plans a slightly larger, more luxurious compact model that it originally thought of calling the Edsel Comet. Now the new car will just be called the Comet.As the Edsel died, Ford got ready to put more pep into the Ford line. Next month Ford will begin deliveries of a 360-h.p. engine that is topped among U.S. stock cars only by the 380 h.p. in the Chrysler 3OO-E. Ford's aim is to outdo both Plymouth (330-h.p. top) and Chevrolet (335-h.p. top) with its new engine.
Motor Trend article from Febuary 1960
that shows artist conjectures of what the Comet will look like.
IT'S NO SECRET that the Ford Motor Co. is please with the early success of the Ford Falcon. It's also no well-kept secret that they are planning the early introduction of a second --- and possibly third compact car. The first of this new crop will probably be ready sometime in the early spring, and will be known as the Comet.
Since the Comet will be on a five-inch-longer wheel-base than the Falcon, it is safe to assume that the basic body structure will be close to that of the the Falcon. The fenders, grille and flat roof are most probably going to be the areas of difference. Our artist reasons that possibly one of the most distinctive---and distinguishing --- areas on the car will be the roof (see sketch).
With the streteched-out wheelbase (114 ins.) the Comet would have a much better ride than the Falcon. If it uses a hopped-up version of the Falcon engine (not currently planned) it could be a good performer too.