Hot Caliente!

hot caliente

This winter is really getting to me and cabin fever has set in!  I feel the desperate need to take a trip down memory lane and talk about my all-time favorite car.  Yes boys and girls, I know you all had one from your past that you might like to have back for a day or two today.

No, I am not talking about a Corvette, Mustang or Camaro all great cars I will admit.  I am referring to a car most people would be hard pressed to even remember today.

The 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente.  This was a sporty little number initially built on the compact Ford Falcon base, later the intermediate Fairlane and even later on a Maverick base.  The original Comet was planned as an Edsel model but was re-sized to Mercury after the Edsel demise!

This vehicle had a history from 1960-1977.  My 1964 had an uncanny resemblance to a small ’64 Lincoln Continental!  The car started ’64 with a 260-V8 and was replaced mid-year with the new and still famous 289 cu V8.  In 1965 the grill was updated from side by side head lamps to stacked lamps like the Pontiac and Cadillacs of the day.

A recent US magazine reported that a 91 year old lady from Florida was still driving her ’64 daily, she had set a record accumulation of over 560,000 miles on it!  She claims to have driven it once at 120 MPH but “that was only for a mile and I had to have cruise control installed because I kept getting speeding tickets”.  I can identify with you Granny… sounds familiar!

A check ‘on-line’ today would reveal that car could sell for over $17,000 US!

My Caliente was purchased ‘well used’ around 1968 from the former Brian Kane Pontiac dealer in Port Hope, Ont.  This dealership was purchased by Lauria Pontiac and transformed to Lauria Hyundi after the Pontiac brand was dropped (no great loss to Ranger!) a few years ago.

Boy, I was proud of that car!  Robin’s-egg blue, two- door hardtop, bucket seats, 289 cu V8 and auto floor shift.  It’s sound system was a stereo cassette player that I built into the dash and added four stereo speakers.

Ranger, being somewhat of a nerd in high school and now out working for a living felt like a king cruising the streets of Cobourg in the Caliente as school let out at 3 pm.  Was it my imagination or were the ladies all smiling as I drove past (several times)?  I still remember, the windows all down and the wind blowing through my hair (yes, I still had some) and Merle Haggard or Loretta Lynne songs blaring loudly from the windows!  Oh, maybe it was my choice of music that caused the smiles!

I must have had a little bit of A.J. Foyt in me, as occasionally I would goad a friend or even a complete stranger to a little drag race here and there.  One memorable match-up was a dark evening on the way from Cobourg to Port Hope on County Road #2.  Minding my own business, trying to pass a slow moving red Ford Galaxie near the Theatre Road, the guy decided to speedup preventing me from my pass.  Being young and foolish, I decided the only way to get past this ‘land-yacht’ was to put the pedal to the medal and go for it!

Long story short, I entered the Port Hope town limits about six car-lengths ahead of one surprised driver!   Seems he thought his 4 barrel carb V8 Interceptor couldn’t be beat.

There are of course hundreds of memories associated with this great little car but I won’t go into them all here. The only guy I know who still has his dream car is Bushwhacker with his 1989 5.0 L. IROC – Z.

Regards, Ranger.

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