Full Tilt Built Comet Street Rod

We were sent this story and being Comet/Falcon lovers, we had to post it.  Anytime I hear or see a Mercury Comet, I smile.  My dad owned a ’64 Comet Cyclone.  ’61 Comets are not your typical hot rod platform, but you wouldn’t know it from seeing this particular purple rod.  It was built by Full Tilt Street Rods in Grand Junction, Colorado, and they had this to say about the project on their website:

Full Tilt Street Rods built 1961 Comet custom hot rod

“Clay and the Full Tilt Crew started with a bone-stock 1961 Comet, tore it down to the frame and installed a couple of tons of the finest street rod parts available.  The ’61 features Full Tilt’s complete Hub-to-Hub Mustang II IFS and Full Tilt’s Parallel 4-Bar rear with ShockWaves.  Full Tilt also did the body work, applied the dive-in-deep “Full Tilt Purple” base coat/clear coat paint and fabricated the custom upholstery.”

Of all the views of this rod, I like this rear 3/4 shot.  The painted bumper, custom frenched tails and the big 335/35/17 meats give this ride the perfect street rod stance.  Super low and the just the right amount of rake.  Too bad Mercury designers didn’t give the rear window a little more angle.

Front shot of Kathy's 1961 Comet street rod from Colorado

Can you believe the custom hood scoop is made from front fenders?  Rad!  The painted bumper street rod look works great for the look.  Dig this front view yall.  Very nice work from the Full Tilt crew.

Front 3/4 view of the hot rod Merc'

This front 3/4 view gives us a better look at that custom hood scoop hiding an injected 351 stroked and poked Windsor.  Also dig those early 60’s rear fins.  Why doesn’t detroit bring back the fins?!  They could make a killer stealth fighter inspired hot rod don’t you think?  I personally like the dual horizontal headlight look of the early to mid 60’s Mercs.  Gives it that wide purposeful look

The Comet shows off its suicide doors at SEMA 2009

One more beauty shot before we hear the story behind the Comet.  Check that injected V8.  Boom!  Custom leather upholstery on stock seats and suicide doors make this a comfy cruiser.  This shot was taken at the 2009 SEMA show.

Now on to a history lesson…from Kathy, the original owners daughter.

In 1961 Warren & Beverly Jones purchased the Mercury Comet.  As the family grew, the Comet went everywhere, even pulling a teardrop camper.  In 1991 I ran into Kathy, her saying to me “you don’t remember me do you”? She was our newspaper girl. I married the girl next door.  While telling Kathy, the Comet would make a great street rod, whenever the subject came up, her dad would say, “When we bought the Comet, the salesman told me it would do 80 mph”!

1961 comet before photo, factory stock condition

Behold the humble beginnings.  Ha ha, I’m sorry.  Is that even the same car?  You betchya!  All I can say is nice work Full Tilt Street Rods for resurrecting/reincarnating this family haulin’, grocery gettin’ Mercury.  Another example of how some wheels, stance and paint can transform almost any car (I know there was much more put into it than that, but just sayin’).

As the years went by, the Comet was fading into a dull, lifeless car. My wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor; the tumor was operable, and a success. I knew I had a promise to keep.  I headed for Full Tilt Street Rods with the Comet. Clay Mullis listened to my story. Clay and his men worked tirelessly to finish the car for SEMA, a lot of it on their own time.  We lost Kathy’s dad unexpectedly during the project, but we all believe he can see it and is smiling.

The Comet made its debut at the 2009 SEMA Convention. Kathy was brought home in the same car 46 years ago to the day.

Vehicle was built at:   Full Tilt Street Rods, Grand Junction Colorado

Condition of vehicle at purchase: My father bought the car new in 1961.  Purchae Price:  $1600

Frame: Custom by Full Tilt

Rear end: Strange Engineering, posi, narrowed with Strange 4:11.  Custom chromed four link with air ride shock waves in the rear and a Mustang 2 style custom front end with pro shocks on air ride bags.  Brakes are GM discs in front and ford racing discs in the rear.

Wheels are Boyd Coddington 17×7 fronts and 17×10 rears

Tires are 215/50/17 BFG’s, rears are 335/35/17 Dunlops.


I love these in process shots like this.  Hours and hours of grinding, welding, wrenching.  It’s the heart of the hobby.

1961 comet custom front end work

Engine:  Mid 80s 351 Windsor bored, stroked and balanced and runs Imagine Injection, Crane cam, TRW pistons and rings, Crane crank, Cloys rods and timing chain.  9.5:1 compression with Edelbrock RPM heads, a March pulley system and Flowmaster muffs.  Spark comes from a Compu-tronix unit and makes about 500 horsepower.  All engine work is credited to BC Engineering.

To put all this power down on the old Merc’ hot rod is a Full Tilt built  Performance Transmission and trans cooler with a 3k stall converter, Drive Line Industries (Grand Junction, CO) driveshaft.

Stroked 351w with fuel injectionStraight 6 cyl original engine

Man!  These 2 engine bays can’t be more different.

Body work includes suicide doors, front tilt hood, cut and filled bumpers, steel hood scoop made from 2 front fenders and custom guage cluster on the bell housing.  Paint is a custom purple hue and was completed by Full Tilt.  Lights are stock with billet aluminum housings, custom frenched turn signals in the front and rear bumpers.

Interior uses ultra leather vanilla, stock customized seats, EZ wiring harness and Dakota Digital instruments.  Steering gear is a Water Fall Flaming River unit with B&M paddle shifters and the always trusty Vintage Air a/c.

Kathy emailed this note.  “Tho’ the comet has great sentimental value to our family…. we never dreamed anyone else would have an interest. Nor did we ever dream she’d come out so cool.”

Thanks to Kathy for sharing her Comet story with us.  It definitely came out COOL!

Comet built for dad!  Warren would be proud.

What a cool tribute to Warren Jones, original owner of the Comet!  I think he’d be very proud.

Full Tilt Street Rods

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