Cover, back cover and introductory spread, pages 2-3, of the full color 1965 Mercury Comet brochure. This piece measures 9 1/4 x 11 inches and is 20 pages including covers. 1965 was the final year for the Comet to use this extended Falcon platform, as it would become a "real" intermediate sized for 1966, sharing a chassis with the Ford Fairlane. For 1965 however, the Comet and the Falcon were still twins under the skin, and even shared front doors and cowl assemblies, albeit with the Comet having a slightly longer wheelbase on its sedans and coupes.
This catalog was very nicely art-directed. The main spreads have a specific color theme, and it's really nice leafing through it; it keeps you wondering what color the next spread will feature. I remember Ford using a similar technique with its '64 Thunderbird catalog, of which I have a gorgeous deluxe version I once paid a fortune for. Click these images to enlarge them and see the cool artwork.
Muy Caliente! The top Comet trim level was called the Caliente, while the mid-level was the 404. If you look at the white 4-door in profile above, you'll notice the rear doors don't really jive with the rear wheelwells very well. This is because its wheelbase was lengthened a couple of inches just in front of the rear wheels and the Falcon's doors, made for the shorter wheelbase car, didn't quite line up. Again, the Comet didn't sell as well as the Falcon, so the bean counters didn't allow Mercury to restyle the doors. It's a testament to Mercury's designers that the two cars look so different from each other. The Falcon's strong bodyside sculpting was softened in front of, and behind the doors, thoroughly changing the look of the cars.
The base Comet was the 202, pretty much a bare-bones model, while the "hot" Comet was the Cyclone—a great name! The slantback pillarless bodystyle of the Cyclone really worked to my eyes. The Cyclone came with a chrome engine dress-up kit, its own grille treatment, bucket seats, console and a walnut-grained steering wheel. The black vinyl roof was a new option.
Comet and Falcon wagons shared bodies, with the Mercury merely changing the front clip and some reat trim. As a child I always wondered why the Comet's wagon had a shorter wheelbase than the two- and four-doors. It seemed to me that a wagon should be longer in the back for cargo space. I just didn't understand the fact that the Falcon and Comet shared the entire wagon body. For the number of wagons sold, there wasn't money to change the rear side windows etc for the Comet's longer wheelbase. Looking at them today, I can see the Falcon so clearly in the body, but I really couldn't as a child.
The last four pages were devoted to accessorites and technical information. In the word "specifications" note the use of the ligature "ﬁ" which typesets the letters "f" and "i" as one character. Bravo!
B T W #1:
A word about the typography on the series pages in this catalog
Notice the "1965" at the top of each section. The numerals include descenders and ascenders, they don't lie on the baseline like most font numbers do. They're called "old style" and I find them extremely elegant. They're not included in every font, in fact, they're relatively rare. I've used old style numerals in many of my book designs, and I've even been known to use a separate font for them if the main body type font I've chosen doesn't have them as an option.
Interestingly, in the case of the "404" the designer made the wise choice of reducing the 4 to the same height as the 0. In proper old style usage, the 4 includes a descender, which would have made the 0 appear too small. The "202" would then not have matched the "404," as the 2 and the 0 are the same size in old style.
These are decisions great designers make every single day, sometimes on every single page they work on. Competent designers think about these details when they're pushed to, but the majority of typography I look at today is merely "typing." Today's paging programs are VERY sophisticated and can turn out decent looking type automatically. Unfortunately, very few designers go the extra mile and really customize their type correctly, so it's not just adequate, but beautiful. In my days as an art director, I trained designers to coax as much as possible out of their hard- and software. It's all in the details, and I could never stress that enough to young designers. I was VERY picky about the typography that was used in my newspapers and magazines, and I know I was called a few choice names under their breath as I walked away, lol. But I've also been thanked by some later, when they realized their work looked much better with my tweaks and direction. It's all in the details. The typography options are very rudimentary in Blogger so please don't judge me by the way this type looks! : )
B T W #2:
Comets I Have Created
Mercury has long been one of my favorite brands to create fake cars for. Sigh. With such an evocative name, and the fact that my very first car was a '69 Comet sport coupe, I've chopped a few Comets in my time.
This was just about the first car I created when I realized I could use Photoshop to render my ideas. My Comet Hybrid 4-door was basically a shortened first generation Milan, but had a cute spunky look to it, classy and elegant in an early 2000s sort of way. I think it's distinctive enough for hybrid buyers, who tend to like being seen in a "green" machine that's recognizable by everyone, but not too funky to turn off Mercury's average clientele.
This Comet Hybrid is a 5-door, not quite a crossover, but a bit taller than a regular wagon. This was meant to anchor the base of the Mercury showroom, but to have the ingress/egress points that older buyers have come to enjoy, and expect. Mercury's buyers tended to be middle-aged and older, and the space of this may have appealed to them, while still looking clean and stylish without being vulgar. Base photo was a European Toyota Avensis.
This car was a Comet right up until the minute I started typing the name for the layout, lol. I was working on an entire series of new Mercurys for a website that contacted me about my work. I ended up never sending them to them, too bad really, but before I started this blog I often didn't follow through with plans... This Comet would have been a luxury midsizer, more like the '66-'67 Comets, which were intermediates in the medium-priced range. I included suicide doors for an uplevel touch, and it was my idea that ALL 4-door Mercurys would have them. They would have been power operated, to provide as much "street theater" as possible, to get Mercury's brand recognition to a higher level. I eventually named this car the Medalist, a cool name Mercury last used in the mid 1950s. I really don't remember the base photo. I know the grille and headlights were from a Milan; maybe the rest of the car was as well. I like it when I've changed a car to the point I can't remember, lol.
This Comet is for the 21st century. It's a "B" segment offering, the size of a Ford Fiesta, but trimmed to an even higher level. The taillights are purely LEDs, the wheels are 19" with very low-profile tires, and the interior would have had all the bells and whistles and electronic connectivity expected in a modern vehicle. The base car was a Citroën concept car, but not much was left of it, only the exhaust ports I think.