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Comet Cyclone stormed onto the stage in '65

Mercury's Comet Cyclone was the hot rod brother to the Mercury Caliente.
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The feisty 1965 Comet Cyclone came only as a
two-door hardtop.

Mercury’s 1965 Comet Cyclone was as whiplash-fast as the Coney Island roller coaster that it shared the Cyclone name with. Auto writer John Ethridge said, “The Cyclone’s 225-hp engine had what you’d consider a healthy feeling at any speed between idle and 3000 rpm. Then it felt like four more cylinders were added and came on very strongly.”

The Comet Cyclone series consisted of a single two-door hardtop priced at $2,683. That made it the second-most expensive Comet (the Villager station wagon was the priciest model).

The 1965 Cyclone had a special grille with only two groups of horizontal blades and blacked-out finish around its perimeter. Cyclones had all the equipment that came on Calientes, plus bucket seats in front, a center console, a tachometer, unique deluxe wheel covers, curb moldings and a 289-cid “Cyclone” V-8 engine with a two-barrel carburetor. A distinctive twin-air-scoop fiberglass hood was optional.

In May 1965, Motor Trend printed a road test titled “2 Comets: Hot & Cool” that compared the Caliente and Cyclone two-door hardtops. The Caliente had the 289-cid, 200-hp engine and Merc-O-Matic transmission. It did 0-to-60 mph in 11 seconds and ran down the drag strip in 18.1 seconds with a 76-mph terminal speed. Its top speed was 96 mph. The Cyclone had the 225-hp version of the “289” and a four-speed gearbox. It trimmed 2.2 seconds off the other car’s 0 to 60-mph time and the quarter-mile took 17.1 seconds at 82 mph. Its top speed was 108 mph.

The magazine liked the restyled Comet front end, the higher horsepower, its handling and its large trunk. The brakes (the Caliente’s brakes had power assist and the Cyclone’s did not) were both good. Stopping distance from 60 mph was 158 feet with assist and 161 feet without assist. Technical editor John Ethridge’s major criticisms concerned the Cyclone’s wheel-spinning ability and its rear axle hop (which hurt acceleration times). He also said that the Caliente’s “hang-under-dash” air conditioner interfered with the driver’s right leg.

The 195-hp “Cyclone V-8” engine was a $108 option for non-Cyclone models. It had a 9.3:1 compression ratio. In addition, there was a 220-hp “Super Cyclone 289” with a 10.0:1 compression ratio and a four-barrel carburetor. This engine cost $45.20 extra in Cyclones and $153.20 additional in other models.

A three-speed manual gearbox was standard with all engines. A four-speed manual transmission was $188 extra, and Multi-Drive Merc-O-Matic ran $189.60 additional. This was, again, a three-speed automatic, comparable to the Ford Cruise-O-Matic.

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