SEPTEMBER 2016: 1973 MERCURY COMET GT: THE FIRST YEAR FOR BUMPER CARS

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 IMGP9819 1973 was an intrusive year for Detroit.

 

‘This was the first year for new government legislation that required North American cars to have impact-resistant front and rear bumpers.’

 

The impact resistance bar was set at 5 mph so the 1973 cars could come out a big winner in a parking lot crash.

 

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The bumpers were not quite as valuable in a freeway crash where all bets were off in the bumper department.

 

The introduction of the “bumper cars” in 1973  marked a big change in another crucial Motown legacy: horsepower. The 1973 cars were also subjected to a new clean air policy and their engines were strangled by strict new exhaust emission controls like catalytic convertors.

 

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The sudden changes in bumpers and exhaust systems seem to catch the Big Three off guard in 1973. Detroit’s performance took a giant nose dive and many of the cars looked like they were wearing ugly braces with the new bumpers.

 

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It was a time when muscle cars became nerd cars.

 

 

Fortunately, most of the car guys were able to steer right by the new exhaust regulations and loosen the neck tie on the newly neutered performance on 1973 V-8s. But they could do very little with the new bumpers.

 

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A few of the 1973 model bumper cars were able to pull off a sense of style- even with the big bumpers. The 1973 Mercury Comet GT was a car that had the right lines and curves to handle the big bumpers.

 

 

Gerald Bailey was always a huge fan of Fords and he is the proud owner of a 1973 Mercury Comet GT. The Comet was Mercury’s counterpart to the Ford Maverick and had a few more creature comforts than a base level Maverick.

 

 

Gerald’s Comet even has leather upholstery and he was happy to tell MSCC that his interior was original, with a few minor repairs.

 

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The engine is not original because Gerald has a 347 stroker under the hood of his Comet. The 347 stroker is a 302 on steroids and has given this Comet a brand new bad attitude on the road. The stroker’s huge performance upgrade is now channeled through an AOD Ford tranny upgrade.

 

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Gerald has owned plenty of Blue Oval rides over the years and wanted to jump back into the car hobby three years ago when he bought his Comet.

 

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Gerald bought the Comet to drive it because “I won’t own it if I can’t drive it”, in his words.

 

 

The car was a rare production model, according to Gerald, but his investment in the car is more for enjoyment because he loves to get behind the wheel and spend time on the road.

 

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Gerald’s Comet has a functional air induction hood but Gerald has been unable to locate the factory air cleaner for his GT. The cars are not plentiful and the search for the air cleaner will continue for Gerald as he molds his Comet into the perfect ride.

 

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For Gerald, the perfect ride is a stylish 1973 bumper car from Ford with a huge bump in its street attitude.

 

‘The factory air cleaner will be the icing on the cake.’

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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