Just the Facts
Owner: Davida Frieman
Creative custom mods are balanced by reserved original components, such as the factory ins
Enthusiasts at the annual SEMA Show aftermarket convention are exposed to hundreds of top-shelf hot rods, muscle cars, tuner cars, custom trucks, race cars, and exotics competing for their attention. One of the successful attention-getters didn't fall into any of these, or any other category. It was the Ford Coyote–powered 1963 Comet convertible, built by Hollywood Hot Rods, on display at the AccuAir booth. The Comet's most enthusiastic admirer was Davida Frieman, its owner.
Davida first saw the car about 15 years ago, while attending the Great Labor Day Cruise in Orange County with Troy Ladd. "It was love at first sight," she remembers, referring to the car, not to Ladd, although they're still together. "I always loved convertibles, and it just struck me as the most beautiful car I had ever seen." The all-original Comet was for sale and Davida bought it that day.
Beautiful was the same word, along with jaunty and racy, used in ads when Mercury introduced its convertible for the 1963 model year. The most beautiful, jauntiest, and raciest, were the 5,757 convertibles (including Davida's) equipped with the S-22 package, which included special badging, bucket seats, a center console, and six taillights instead of four.
Three taillights per side instead of two is another styling improvement that distinguished
After pampering it with occasional driving, Davida made the Comet her daily driver for several years, until the hassles of commuting into downtown L.A. made that impossible. In the meantime, Ladd had opened Hollywood Hot Rods in Burbank and the Comet was added to the list of the shop's "someday" projects. "Someday" came about a decade later, when the desire to build something different and find another application for Ford's new engine, plus the inspiration of a few of Eric Black's concept illustrations, got the wheels turning on the long-ignored Comet.
During the buildup, all emblems and body trim pieces above the beltline were eliminated, along with the side mirrors and cowl vents. The door handles were shaved, and front fender Comet script and rear quarter jewelry was removed. The front and rear factory bumpers were narrowed, shortened, and tucked in tight to the body. Faith Plating in West Hollywood restored the shine to all bright pieces.
The reshaped hood is probably the subtlest yet most distinct modification made to the body. Instead of extending to the front of the car, stock style, the hood was shortened at the front for more of a sports car appearance. The nose area ahead of the hood has been integrated into the front fenders.
Underneath, the unibody structure had to be re-engineered to be compatible with the upgraded suspension and the low ride. Reinforced front and rear subframes are suspended by a Fatman Fabrications A-arm/dropped spindle frontend and a triangulated four-link system in the rear. The rear wheelwells were tubbed to house the 285-series rear tires.
It's hard to spot a Comet on the street that's not rolling on whitewalls (narrow or wide) with steelies and hubcaps—unless it's an FX drag racer look-alike. But the point of Davida's Coyote Comet was to combine "racy, jaunty, and beautiful" with a little updated class, so 1960s-era wheels and tires were out of the question. The choice instead was a set of 18x9.5 and 17x8 billet wheels and meaty radials. The Bullet wheels and spinner caps are from the Billet Vintiques division of Circle Racing, with 215/45R17 and 285/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F-1 tires. Braking distance is shortened by Wilwood 12-inch discs and a master cylinder.
Naturally, the world’s coolest Comet is powered by the world’s coolest Coyote engine. Holl
The ground-level stance is provided by custom RideTech shocks and air springs operated by an AccuAir eLevel control system. The AccuAir eXo mounting system, including a 5-gallon tank, dual Viair compressors, ECU, and VU4 air valve manifold, is located in the trunk. The ride quality is great and you'd have to deflate the tires to get the car any lower.
There are no visual clues on the outside of the Comet hinting at the out-of-the-ordinary engine on the inside. Even if you're familiar with other Hollywood Hot Rods cars powered by retro-styled Ford 5.0L Ti-VCT "Coyote" engines (the Raybestos 1932 roadster pickup and the STREET RODDER 1940 coupe), the Comet's engine is still likely to make you do a double take.
The internals are stock but the Ford's injection system has been replaced by a system of HHR's design, featuring Inglese throttle bodies and side-draft stacks, with air cleaners from C. Cook Enterprises, and Hollywood Hot Rods–built manifolds. The ribbed valley cover was also built in-house, and the Comet S-22 valve covers were custom machined at C. Cook Enterprises. Fuel is delivered by an Aeromotive system and lit by a FAST XIM ignition. Modified stainless steel Ford headers and 2-1/2-inch mandrel-bent exhaust pipes are corked with Flowmaster Hushpower headers.
A Ford 4R70W transmission built by Gearstar is shifted by the modified original column shifter. Inland Empire built the aluminum driveshaft tying the powertrain to the Currie 9-inch 4.11:1 limited-slip rearend.
The Comet was delivered to Department of Customz in Anaheim for final bodywork and paint. Matthew Means made sure the sheetmetal was billiard ball smooth before it went into the paint booth where Tom Prewitt covered Means' work with House Of Kolor paint. The custom color varies between champagne, nickel, and sometimes slightly pale green, depending on the light. It's perfect for the Comet.
The great looking air cleaners and specially fabricated valve covers were created for the
Elegance Auto Interiors in Upland, California, is Hollywood Hot Rods' interior shop of choice. Owner Mark Lopez and his team covered the stock S-22 buckets and interior panels with two-tone leather. Square-weave carpeting was used on the floor. The dash, instruments, and steering wheel have been restored to classic factory condition. The Art of Sound, also in Upland, provided the Alpine sound system, installing dual amps and a pair of 10-inch subwoofers in the trunk, with front and rear speakers mounted in the interior side panels. Controls are handy in the center console. Air conditioning from Vintage Air was added without altering the stock look of the dash.
Once the work got started it took only three months to have the Comet ready for the SEMA Show. Davida was there and enjoyed seeing so many people looking at it and talking about it. "It really seemed to spark interest...and conversation...and memories.
"I can't tell you what it meant to me to have it done. I really missed it. It's surreal to realize that this is the same car I'd driven years ago, and that I waited so long to be finished. It's perfect. I didn't really have any specific expectations—I just wanted to be able to drive it—and Troy (Ladd) made the car perfect for me."
The sporty S-22 package included bucket seats and a center console, among other items. Ele
Amplifiers and subwoofers for the Alpine sound system are housed in the trunk behind the A