he Ford Falcon''s more sophisticated cousin was the Mercury Comet, and this 1962 2-door offers a neat alternative to the blue oval machines that were so popular in the early ''60s. With a subtle color combination, a stunning interior, and a thrifty drivetrain, it''s a hobby car you can enjoy without guilt. The idea of the economy car isn''t a new one, and even upscale Mercury was getting in on the act with the Comet. It offers styling cues taken from the full-sized machines sitting next to it in the showroom, but thanks to compact proportions, it was easy to drive and reasonably peppy even with its gas-sipping inline-six engine. This one is in awesome shape thanks to a lifetime in the south, and while the color is subtle, this one gets all its attention simply by being unusual. Dramatically carved sheetmetal topped by tiny fins that were the ''50s last gasp give it a lot of visual interest and are actually helped by the subtle paint. Chrome and trim are quite good, and even on the budget-oriented Comet, there''s quite a bit of it. The stainless strip running the length of the body and two pairs of taillight lenses surrounded by a brushed aluminum panel give the Comet a lot of visual pizzazz. The jewel in this Comet''s crown has to be the immaculate interior. One look at the funky plaid material and you just know it isn''t being reproduced today, so discovering something like this is quite a rare find. Tri-tone door panels are remarkably stylish for a basic car, with only the armrest showing its age after nearly 50 years of elbows resting on it. The instrument panel is a stunning piece of ''60s sculpture in bright metal and clear plastic, and offers both a temperature and a fuel level gauge in addition to the speedometer. An AM radio was an option in the Comet, along with the column-shifted 2-speed automatic transmission. Tidy carpets, a taut headliner, and excellent use of colors give it a bright, airy feel inside, and it certainly doesn''t feel like Mercury''s lowest-priced car that year. Even the trunk is nicely finished and comes complete with a full-sized spare and jack assembly. Ford''s trusty 170 cubic inch inline-six fits neatly with the Comet''s economy-based mission. But in the small car, it''s reasonably peppy at the same time, with a suitably vintage grumble from the single exhaust system. Ford Blue on the engine itself makes the machinery stand out against the satin black engine bay, and given the condition of the interior, it should be no surprise that the engine bay is equally well-preserved. It starts easily and using an automatic transmission, pulls the car around with aplomb. The exhaust system is relatively new, and original steel wheels wear a set of 165/80/13 narrow whitewall radials. Unusual yet eminently practical for today''s times, this Comet is a great entry-level hobby car that won''t cost you much now or on the road. This vehicle is located in our Charlotte showroom. For more information, please call (704) 598-2130 or toll free (866) 542-8392.