One-Off Factory Fastback: The 1964 Comet Super Cyclone

Created for the ’60s custom car show circuit, Mercury’s 1964 Comet Super Cyclone was one of a kind. Here’s some backstory to the wild factory custom. 



It doesn’t appear there was ever any production intent for the Comet Super Cyclone, Mercury’s far-out fastback show car of 1964, but it’s still fun to wonder what if. Designed by Ford advanced stylist David L. Ash and his staff, the Super Cyclone was constructed by Dearborn Steel Tubing, a local Ford contractor that was also responsible for the Fairlane Thunderbolts, the Thunderbird Itelien concept, and other exotic skunkworks-type projects.



To create the Super Cyclone, famed designer-fabricator Vince Gardner and his associate Paul Shedlik, then in the employ of DST, started with a stock ’64 Comet Cyclone hardtop equipped with a 289 CID V8 and a Borg-Warner four-speed. After removing much of the factory sheet metal aft of the A-pillars, they modeled and constructed a new outer skin in fiberglass. The revised look sported radiused rear wheel openings to match the front and a radically sloped roofline to support a large, wraparound rear glass.

As we can see, the backlite bears a powerful resemblance to the one on the original 1964 Plymouth Barracuda, just then going into production. Though we have no reason to presume it’s anything more than coincidence, the similarity is striking. Other custom features included a complete interior in white naugahyde, Astro custom wheels with bolt-on knockoffs, and teardrop racing mirrors. The revised front end treatment featured a custom grille with fine vertical teeth and French Cibie headlights. The rectangular lamps were popular on the custom car scene in the ’60s but technically, they weren’t legal for street use in the U.S.



The Super Cyclone made its first public appearance at the Chicago Auto Show (above) on February 8-15, 1964. (We can’t help wondering what the Plymouth people thought when they saw it.) The fastback was also a regular feature of the Lincoln-Mercury Caravan of Stars, a traveling exhibition on the hot rod show circuit, and in the April 1964 issue of Rod & Custom magazine (below) it shared the cover with Ed Roth’s latest show rod, The Road Agent. We don’t know this, but since the Super Cyclone hasn’t been sighted in decades, we assume it was destroyed once its show career was over—the usual fate of show cars and concepts.


13 thoughts on “One-Off Factory Fastback: The 1964 Comet Super Cyclone

  1. I hope they crushed it. That would have allowed room for more deserving concepts. Good god, that is ugly. The bland shade of gold didn’t help it any either.

  2. Slight correction;

    ” the original 1965 Plymouth Barracuda,”

    The original was actually introduced as a 1964 model. They were the only Barracuda that was available with the push button shifter. 1965 had a conventional shifter.

  3. It looks like one of those mid Sixties Japanese designs that were given American styling cues and featured on a live-action superhero tv show.

  4. Not a bad looking 60’s design. Leave off the exhaust ports through the rear quarters, put in normal round headlights, and move the gas tank filler to the side or behind the tag or in between the tail lights like a Mustang, and I think Mercury might have had a winner for a couple of years there. Probably would have looked even better in it’s second gen if it followed the Plymouth and decreased the size of the rear window.
    Funny how some of the better designs get canned instead of being cleaned up, and the uglier designs actually go to market.

  5. A totally 60’s Look, hey didn’t the ’66 Rambler American “Marlin” sort of bare a close resemblance to the DODGE Charger? C’mon Man, no harm no Foul…But wow that it so “BOSS!!” as what they would have said back then…

    • The 1965 Marlin was based on the beautiful 1964 Rambler Tarpon concept car which was based on the compact Rambler chassis. But the production 1965 Marlin was built on the mid-sized Classic chassis. For 1967 it moved to the full-sized Ambassador which was restyled that year.

      While the 1967 was a great execution of a full-sized fastback, like the similarly sized 1966-67 Dodge Charger, it was a sales flop and was discontinued to make room for the compact 1968 Javelin pony car.

  6. Beautiful design, but they wouldn’t have needed this Falcon/Comet based spinoff in 1964 as they already had the Falcon based spinoff in the Mustang and eventually Cougar. History shows that this pair made the 64 Barracuda appear immediately outdated and outsold it so fast it made Chrysler’s head spin.

  7. Something different for that time i like it. I have 65 comet convertible nice

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