100,000 miles at 100 miles an hour...
By Larry Edsall
What triggered your interest in cars?
I know, it probably wasn't just one thing.
When I think back to my first serious interests in cars, I remember being a fan of stock car driver Fireball Roberts, probably because of his name; to my dad's salmon-colored '57 Chevy and my uncle's pale green '57 Plymouth and the arguments with my cousins about whose dad had the cooler car; to listening to the Indy 500 on the radio because the only way to actually see the race was to either go to Indianapolis or to find a way into your local movie theater for the live closed-circuit telecast; to saving money for the sports car I've still yet to buy; to the first time I saw a Studebaker Avanti on the road (it was on the Collins Street hill), and to a group of record-setting Mercury Comets.
I had just started driving (legally, that is) in 1963 when Ford took a fleet of four of its 1964 Mercury Comets, the Caliente version equipped with 271-horsepower, 289-cubic-inch V8 engines, to the Daytona International Speedway to set a long list of speed and endurance records, including a 40-day run of 100,000 miles at more than 100 miles per hour (actually, it was at more than 108 mph).
Ford supported the effort with a major television advertising campaign that featured the cars on the track with a catchy musical accompaniment proclaiming “One hundred thousand miles at one hundred miles an hour on the banks of the mighty big D.”
Only one of those Comets is known to have survived. It will be offered for sale – and for the first time since it changed hands in 1991 -- at RM Auction's event February 6-8 at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
I can't recall now quite why I was so impressed with the Comets' speed run. But I was. Four decades later, I still remember the tune and the lyrics and the images of the cars on Daytona's high banks in the commercial.
I'm sure there will be much more valuable vehicles offered at the Florida auction, but none of them has more meaning to me.
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