2023 |Estate of Mark Smith Auction
1964 Mercury Comet CalienteRegister to Bid
$40,000 - $60,000| Without Reserve
Believed to Be the Last Survivor of Mercury’s FIA-Sanctioned Comet Durability Run
Outstanding Provenance Includes Harrah’s Automobile Collection
Offered in Exceptionally Original, As-Raced Condition
289 CID OHV V-8 Engine
Single 4-Barrel Carburetor
271 BHP at 5,500 RPM
3-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Front Independent Suspension with Coil Springs
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Ford Motor Company’s Mercury division was on the move during the 1960s with a successful motor sports program of its own that often challenged and beat its “senior” Ford division. Aggressively promoting the late-1963 debut of the second-generation Mercury Comet intermediate line, Mercury sent five specially prepared cars – all two-door hardtops – to Florida’s legendary Daytona Speedway for the widely publicized Comet Durability Run held in September and October 1963.
There, four Comets covered 100,000 miles over 40 days or 2,500 miles daily, setting over 100 FIA-ACCUS world records averaging over 100 mph in the process, including choreographed and precision-timed pit stops. A fifth Comet was dedicated to breaking another record during the Durability Run, averaging over 124 mph. All cars were K-code 289 “Hi-Po” powered, with heavy-duty suspension, beefy roll cages, racing tires, and other select tweaks. True to the event’s billing, the Comets proved extremely durable, with only a broken valve spring suffered by one car, with the massive effort chronicled in the official documentary film Triumph at Daytona.
This Durability Run Comet is the only known survivor of the five cars today. Outstanding provenance includes its sale from a Ford Motor Company executive to the famed Harrah’s Automobile Collection of Reno, Nevada, where it remained until acquired in September 1985 by the fast-growing car collection of Domino’s pizza founder Tom Monaghan. The next owner purchased the Comet in 1991 and retained it until February 2009, when Mark Smith acquired it.
Offered in highly original and complete condition, the Comet offers a virtual “time warp” to its rigorous Durability Run days of late 1963, with hard track use evident. A remarkable and unique piece of Ford Motor Company history, this Comet Caliente was integral to Mercury’s frontline role in the legendary 1960s “total performance” corporate racing program.
*Please note that this Lot, like all vehicles in this Auction, has been in long-term static storage and may not be currently operational. It will require mechanical attention prior to any road use.
Gooding & Company presents and conducts the Estate of Mark Smith Auction under the authority of John J. Rendemonti, Executor of the Estate of Mark J. Smith, duly appointed by the Circuit Court of the State of New Hampshire, Probate Division, Case Number 312-2022-ET-00072. The Estate has compiled available title and/or registration paperwork for the Vehicles offered in the Auction and will provide such paperwork to the Buyer if it is available. However, as set forth more fully in the Conditions of Sale, neither the Estate nor Gooding makes any representation or warranty with respect to any existing certificate of title or registration with regard to any Lot in the Auction. Any Lot may be sold on a Bill of Sale. By participating in this Auction, all bidders and buyers recognize that Estate and Gooding have expressly disclaimed all such warranties concerning the availability or sufficiency of any title or registration documentation.