My First Car: 1972 Mercury Comet with a 302 V8

By | January 18, 2021

40 years ago today, I bought my first car. This was my reward for having started working just a few days after my 16th birthday, first at Woolworth’s and then Kmart. After 8 months of disciplined saving, I had accumulated exactly $500. This just happened to be the exact amount required to purchase my first car: a 1972 Mercury Comet. Also known as a Ford Maverick with fancy trim.

Today’s 16-year-old wouldn’t have enjoyed this car at all. There was no Bluetooth. No DVD player. No air conditioning. No cruise control. No power brakes. The “audio system” consisted of an AM radio with one speaker in the dashboard. But she always started, even on brutal Minnesota winter mornings, and never left me stranded. This Comet was mine and I was very happy to have it.

It did have one special feature: instead of the usual 6 cylinder engine, this Comet had a 302 V8 stuffed between the shock towers! The fact that this car only weighed about 2,900 pounds made for a really nice weight-to-horsepower ratio. She would do 0-60 in about 8.5 seconds. Top speed (for me anyway) was 106 MPH. The throttle still had more to go, but the front end was shaking pretty badly. I wisely decided against pushing her any further.

After 18 months and 23,000 miles of teenage hot-rodding abuse, I sold my Comet and got my $500 back. By this time, the doors and wheel wells had re-rusted around my Bondo patches and…surprise…it needed new brakes and tires. Condition of engine and transmission? As strong as ever!

I still miss that car. She ran like a raped ape! Wanna race?

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