1963 Mercury Meteor S-33

1963 Mercury Meteor S-33

Blaine Falat runs an autobody and paint shop in Kamloops. In 2012, he had a customer come in who was wondering if he would be interested in trading the painting of his 1967 Chevelle, for a 1963 Meteor S33. Blaine right away said he was not interested in some land yacht! He was not familiar with a 1963 Meteor, let alone one with the sportier S33 package.

One look at the car, Blaine was very interested,  seeing how complete the car was. It was a smaller “Fairlane” sized car, rather than a full sized Monterey. Checking it out on the web, it clearly shows this is not the kind of car you are going to see at every car show. They  made less than 5,000 S-33 models in 1963. It has a 2 inch longer wheelbase than the smaller Comet and was 2 inches shorter than the full size Monterey, but it looked so much better than either.

Blaine’s confusion about the car being a land yacht is not unfounded. Initially, the Meteor was just a Ford with Mercury looking grilles and badges, but Ford running gear, and sold only in Canada from 1949 until 1961. The 1961 Meteor was a full sized car. For 1962 and 1963, Meteors, now midsized, were sold in the US as well as Canada, before once again, from 1964 until being discontinued in 1976, Meteors were not sold in the US. 1963 was the first year Mercury offered a 4 speed transmission, seatbelts and back up lights were still optional equipment then.

Buying a rare car is a gamble, but all the glass and shiny bits were with the untouched car, including the rare S-33 badges. The front fenders were rough, but repairable if others could not be found. The rear quarters were easy to repair and once the car was stripped, a small amount of rust in the floors was easy to fix.

He planned initially to go for a 289, but the Lordco machine shop in Langley B.C. suggested building a 302. The new engine has aluminum heads, and Edelbrock Performer Jr intake manifold with a Holley Quick fuel carb and has ceramic coated headers. The engine puts out 320 horsepower. The machine shop billed monthly for the parts and work and 7 months later a fresh 302  V8 was sitting in Blaine’s shop. One of his employees gave him the kick in his butt he needed to get going to finish the car….or to actually start the car.

The car was stripped and front fenders were found out of a specialty wrecking yard, GM Sports Salvage, in Stockton California, the other minor bits of rust were repaired and the car started to look loved. Other parts bought for the car included a Helix front end based on the Mustang II design and power steering. The front was also strengthened with bars going from the front sub frame to the firewall, since the shock towers were able to be removed because of the Mustang II front set-up. Some of the wiring was also hidden by going through these bars.

The rear-end is a 4 link set up with Panhard bars, using a 8.8 ” differential with 3.73 gears from an Explorer that was narrowed and retained the rear disc brakes. Interestingly, the Explorer rear-end was offset to one side so it only needed to be narrowed on one side. The Helix front end came with drilled and slotted discs, so the car stops twice as quick as it did in the 60’s!

To put bigger tires in the back, the wheel wells were mini tubbed at Blaine’s shop, by cutting them down the middle and fabricating the piece needed to widen them. By using coil-overs for the 4 link rear-end, the removal of the leaf springs made for an easy job of widening the rear wheel wells. The rear-end is fully adjustable.

The car runs an AOD Overdrive transmission out of a Ford Ranger Pickup and even with the low rear-end ratio the car is a pleasure to drive on the Highway. It can go easily cruise at higher speeds without breaking 3,000 rpm, buy Blaine wants to keep both his car and licence….

Buying a factory interior for a Fairlane, the brightwork strip in the door panel looked cheap, so he went with a full custom design on the doors. He did use the stock headliner. Going with electric windows the door panels were open to a completely new design by Blaine. The original door design has a bulge at the top of the door by the dash and flows into the dash for a very nice look when the door is closed. The car did not have AC so custom oval ports were installed in the dash on the very outside edges. They look completely stock, but the dash pad was removed, and the top of the dash got reworked and painted.

Also on the dash where the instrument panels were, a new panel was fabricated to house a new instrument panel with full gauges. The car has “Vintage Air” air conditioning. It has a full Alpine sound system with tweeters and mids up front, amps and bass in back, with speakers in the parcel shelf with custom S-33 covers. The ignition is still where the factory put it, on the left side of the steering wheel, but the ash tray was removed. In place of the ashtray, a panel was fabricated and blended into the dash with the controls for the electric windows. The interior mimics the exterior in the silver and green but adding black for the seats and door panel.

It is also a pleasure to get thumbs-up from people who see the car, this may partially be due to the paint choice. Blaine always liked green, and after doing a “spray out” of the original Gold, that the car was sold new in Vancouver with, he knew it needed a better colour than gold. Judging from the 1963 Mercury sales brochure, there were 14 solid colours and 22 colour combinations. It is a good thing the car did not come from the factory with one of the snazzy colours like “Carnival Red”, “Pink Frost”, “Black Cherry” or either “Ocean Turquoise” or “Peacock Turquoise”. If so, we might not have seen the great custom colours Blaine had picked for his car.

He was thinking he was going to like the Synergy green from the Camaros, but when he found “It’s Green o Clock” from the Chevy Sonic he knew that was the colour. Knowing that back in the day, these old cars were often two or three toned, he went looking for the perfect second colour. Finding “Silver Sparkle” in a paint sample book, he also matched the amount of metal flake, so they don’t clash in the sun.

The car came with over 43 pieces of Stainless, and all were repaired, buffed, and polished to perfection. American Racing wheels provide the classic look with Mercury center caps from “Classic Cougar,” out of the states. The car rides on BF Goodrich g-Force Sport comp2 tires with 245/40ZR18 up front and the big wide, almost 11″ wide, 275/40ZR18 out back where the rubber paints the road.

The car was finished just before the Kamloops “Chrome on the Grass” Car show, in July 2018. The car has been driven to Campbell River and Vancouver a few times and all the cities in the interior with car shows. His Meteor does very well at car shows and is often just as much of a mystery to serious carnuts, as it was to Blaine when he first bought it.