1964 Mercury Comet durability run. All images are frame grabs from video below.
This video produced for Lincoln-Mercury documents 40 days and nights of continuous punishment that a group of 1964 Comets, their drivers and crew endured to prove the all-new luxury compacts are durable.
All was done under the watchful eyes of representatives from NASCAR to oversee track safety and the national records and the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States, the official agent in the U.S. for the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA) to monitor for the international records. Longines timing equipment and officials were also on hand, as were Daytona officials. All in all, it took about 100 people at the track to accomplish the goal.
It began at the Daytona International Speedway on September 21st 1963 and ended on October 30th. Through 100,000 miles accrued at about 2,500 per day with pit stops every two hours, two tropical storms from two hurricanes and plenty of gas and tires, the Comet Cyclone high performance solid-lifter 289-equipped cars endured.
To prepare for the vehicular torture test, the suspensions and drivelines were fortified with HD components and there was safety equipment added including HD wheels, racing tires, a rollbar and more. Additional instruments included a tach and oil temperature and fuel pressure gauges, and there was a two-way radio for communication.
Throughout the video there are beautiful period shots of the Daytona superspeedway at dawn, mid-day and dusk. You can’t see much in the night filming, however. Fender-level shooting on the track from car to car, shots of the driver’s in the Comets at speed and pit stops and refilling at the Firebird pumps can all be appreciated.
The worst mechanical failure was a broken valve spring on one of the cars that put it out of record contention. Nevertheless it was repaired and still finished the challenge.
Four Comets traveled 100,000 miles over 960 hours at an average speed of 105 to 108 MPH and three of them broke or established over 100 world speed and distance records. A fifth Comet was there to break a specific record and averaged 124.421 for 10,000 miles. And you can see it all happen in this 15 minute video.