Mercury Comet

February 9, 2009 by  
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The sleek lines of the Mercury Comet had quite a few young gentlemen excited when it was first released by the Mercury division of the Ford Motor Company in 1960. The Comet was originally planned as an Edsel model which was developed along similar lines to the Ford Falcon, but with better trimmings and a slightly longer wheel base. It initially made use of the distinctive split grille that had become the Edsel trademark. When it was decided that the car would be marketed by Mercury instead, the Edsel grille was dropped in favor of a Mercury grille though the elliptical taillights and instrument cluster and dashboard knobs were kept for the first-year model.

Initially the changes in design and marketing strategy meant that it was difficult to classify the car properly. With its stretched 14″ Ford Falcon platform and 114″ wheelbase, it was neither a compact car nor an intermediate-sized car for the duration of the seventeen years that the Comet was produced. However Mercury eventually decided to market it as a compact car. Initially the Comet was not marketed as a Mercury, but simply as a ‘Comet’. It was available in 2 & 4 door sedans and 2 & 4 door wagons. It only officially became part of the Mercury line in 1962 when it was first marketed with the Mercury badge. There was also a ‘sport’ version of the Comet – the S-22 – which was available between 1961 and 1963. The S-22 was much the same as the regular 2-door Comets, but it featured an S-22 badge, bucket seats, a centre console, a stainless spoked steering wheel and stainless full wheel covers, amongst other things.

The Comets produced between 1960 and 1963 have a somewhat rounder shape. The initial Comets that were made between 1960 and 1961 had rather unique large, slanted taillights. Car owners could choose between a 3-speed manual or a 2-speed automatic transmission. To counter complaints about the resulting low performance of the 144 ci engine, a 170 ct with a 4-speed manual gearbox was released in 1961. In the car’s first year as an official Mercury car, some minor re-styling removed the ‘cat eye’ taillights and gave the car a sleeker look. The 1963 model was able to accomodate a V-8 engine and was also available as a convertible. The car went through quite a few more changes over subsequent years, but proved in its day to be a most noteworthy muscle car.

Honda F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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Honda withdrew from F1 racing in 2008.

Honda F1 racing team is run by Japanese car manufacturer Honda, and is based in Brackley, United Kingdom. Honda uses the former British American Racing’s facilities, which they purchased recently in 2005. The actual engines are built at Honda R&D facility in Tochigi, Japan. Nick Fry runs the Honda team and has Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button driving for the team.

Honda first took part in Formula One racing in 1963, but like Renault, has over the years left and re-entered the sport as engine supplier and as a constructor. From 1993 to 1998 Honda supplied engines through its associates Mugen Motorsports, to teams like Prost and Jordan and Ligier. By 1999, Mugen-powered cars had won a total of four Grand Prixs. Honda team has consistently used the same white racing color that it first used in the 1960s up until this present moment.

Honda took all by surprise when it entered the Grand Prix in 1963 and then three years later brought out their first road car. Another surprise came in the form of their all-Japanese factory team, excepting their American drivers Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum, considering that all other Formula One garages where predominantly European. They also startled the other teams because of having built their own chassis and engine, something only BRM and Ferrari had ever done.

In 2004 Honda bought up 45% of the BAR team owned by British American Tobacco. At this point BAR had just completed its best season and was nominated second place in the constructors standing in 2004. The following year Honda purchased the other 55% of BAR, and raced in 2006 as Honda Racing F1 Team. They entered the RA106 with the RA806E V8 Honda Engine, an engine similar to the previous engines used throughout its F1 history.

The Honda team had a roller coaster season, with Jenson Button taking his first win at the Hungarian Grand Prix and Rubens Barrichello performing steadily throughout the year. Although the team finished the season in fourth place it had poor reliability throughout 2006 and its performance early in the pit stops was nothing to talk about.

AC Cobra 427/428

February 9, 2009 by  
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Although the British built the AC Cobra that came to the forefront in 1960, it wasn’t the first vehicle that combined the V8 engine with an aluminum body and a light European chassis, but it was most certainly the most famous. The later models with bigger engines were among the road vehicles sold, that performed the highest.

The AC Cobra 427, was produced in two forms. There was a commercial vehicle, that featured dual carburetors, an under exhaust, a glove box and a relatively tame engine. The other however, did not feature the practical glove box, but had a stripped interior, revised suspension and a completely different layout of its instruments. The latter, was built for racing, and had a one carburetor powerful engine, wide fenders, a roll bar and its exhausts were on the side. Carroll Shelby, producer of the AC Cobra’s, was left with many of the racing versions. Shelby renamed the vehicles to Cobra 427 SC (Super Competition) and sold them to the public. Today, the SC models are the most valuable vehicles to collectors, and sell for millions.

The production of the AC Cobra 427/428, started in 1964, with the building of the Cobra 427. It was the most powerful car that had entered production, and would become the legend that dreams were made of. The chassis and the suspension had to be redesigned for these cars, to be able to cope with the massive increase of power and other changes. It boasted a seven liter Ford V8 engine and in standard form, the vehicle was capable of 400bhp, which could be increased even further, for racing purposes.

A 428 engine was later used, but the power remained virtually the same. The legendary AC Cobra 427/428 would be written into the history books because of it unbelievable acceleration capabilities and handling characteristics that could make anyone’s hair stand up right! In 1965, Shelby sold the Cobra name to Ford. Many replicas of the AC Cobra 427/428 can still be seen today, and many car enthusiasts still dream of being behind the wheel of this powerful muscle car.