Denz Place puts the ‘Caliente’ in this Mercury Comet
Written by: Lindsey Fisher
For over 50 years, hundreds of amazing muscle cars, classics, hot rods and trucks have competed amongst each other as the best builds in the industry for honors at the Detroit Autorama, home of the coveted Ridler Award. This year was no different as countless fresh builds made their debuts at the notable March show, including one killer Comet built by Denz Place Auto Restorations in Linden, Michigan. But this Comet goes beyond being just another gorgeous car – it’s packed with performance and built to drive! And helping it meet the goal of being a clean and comfortable touring car with plenty of performance components to back it up is none other than a full TCI suspension system!
The car is a 1965 Mercury Comet Caliente and it’s owned by long-time Ford Motor employees, husband and wife Jeff and Beth Spencer of Canton, MI. The build of the Comet came about after Jeff had a 1968 Mustang built by Denz Place, which was debuted at the 2013 Detroit Autorama. He wanted to find a Falcon or Comet convertible to build for his wife Beth and a connection was made at the show to purchase the ’65 you see here.
While Jeff Spencer had started tearing down the car, it was Denz Place that ultimately finished the tear-down and proceeded to build the car back up from bare bones, starting first with putting the car on a rotisserie and having it media blasted by Ron Coan of AMB. Once it was media blasted, the car returned to Denz Place where everything on the build except for the convertible top was performed by shop owner Dennis Heinonen and his family, with Jeff involved in the entire process.
Having been handed what was essentially a blank canvas for the build, Heinonen tells us the Comet is a great example of what Denz Place Auto Restorations is all about – crafting one-of-a-kind vehicles with plenty of subtle custom touches. On the Comet, these range from immense metal work for sharpened body lines and perfected body panel gaps, to the addition of a custom heat extractor on the car’s hood and a custom tail panel out back. They also include such niceties as a cleaned up engine bay with the car’s battery relocated to the trunk. Dennis’ Wife Joan stitched the custom interior herself featuring the original seat frames padded with TMI ’68 Mustang sport foam and wrapped in red and black leather upholstery with suede inserts; custom black leather door panels with suede inserts to match the seats; and a shaved down dashboard rid of the dash pad, glove box door and ash tray.
Aesthetic wise, the car is finished off with PPG Envirobase 2018 Mustang White with an 8152 clear coat over the top, Black and Race Red hood details, and a coat of Race Red paint under 8115 Matte Clear for the interior and engine bay.
As far as the performance specs of the Comet go, the ’65 is highly bolstered in pro-touring fashion compared to its original digs, starting with a full TCI Engineering Ford Falcon suspension system with RideTech coilovers. The decision was made to go with a full TCI setup after seeing all the positive feedback Falcon owners had given the suspension system on forums.
With the front suspension install being identical to that of the Ford Falcon, the suspension setup was pretty straight forward. To make the rear suspension system fit with the Mercury’s 5-inch longer wheelbase and larger frame rails, Denz Place modified the rear cradle to fit, which was also a fairly simple process. As an added touch, they ran the shock tower closeout panels through the bead roller.
“What we liked was the straight forward installation and clean look it gives the engine bay,” Heinonen told us of the TCI suspension system. “This is the first time using TCI products and won’t be the last!”
Powering the Comet is a 500hp Performance Unlimited 347 stroker motor with Doug’s headers, MSD 6AL ignition, Summit Direct Fin aluminum radiator, and a custom stainless exhaust system with Borla XP mufflers that exits through the rear quarter panels. The engine is backed by an automatic overdrive transmission, which funnels a potent dose of power to the rear wheels via a Quick Performance Ford 9-inch rearend with 3.50 gears. Wheels on the car are 18×7-inch (front) and 18×8-inch (rear) Rocket Racing Attack hoops wrapped in 235/40/18 and 255/40/18 BF Goodrich Sport Comp 2 tires respectably, and backed by Wilwood brakes.
An incredible custom Mercury, the Denz Place-built ’65 made its debut at the 2018 Detroit Autorama, where it garnered a ton of attention. Now off to be shown and cruised as it was meant to be, we look forward to seeing this TCI-equipped ride out and about this summer!