That’s right, behold the majesty of Lincoln-Mercury division’s compact sedan. Feel the road-hugging weight! Brace yourself for the devastating surge from the mighty 250! Cower in fear before the enormous bumper! Seriously, did you see the size of that thing?

Oddly, although Robert Owen, the sole owner, didn’t plump for power brakes on this 1976 Mercury Comet, he did add a number of appearance and convenience options – vinyl roof, what might be a cassette player, window tinting.

Steve “General” Zogg has this no-reserve, 17,000-mile (!) car as part of a sale this Saturday, and beyond value, it raises the question, who loves the unloved?

V-8 Mavericks have at least a small following, but a six-cylinder Comet? Let us be perfectly honest: This was not a wonderful car. It ‘s 3,000 pounds and 90hp from the optional Big Six, and the driving experience is really not so great, especially when you’ve got a column shifted automatic and manual brakes.

So are age, condition and rarity sufficient to make a car collectible? It didn’t “save” Lincoln Mercury, it was about as far from groundbreaking design as you can get and was entirely a rebadged Ford near the end of the model’s run.

I say, that’s the whole point. It is unloved now as it was then, essentially forgotten and important only in the sense that it’s a souvenir of the nadir of the industry. We were deep in the years of malaise, and these were our cars. It’s having its very own “crisis of confidence,” and in case you’ve forgotten, President Carter used that phrase in a speech in which he specifically addressed the automobile, saying, “I’m asking you for your good and for your nation’s security to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit…” This is what he had in mind for you to drive when you did make that trip, a car that would remind you that you shouldn’t be enjoying your drive.

As a relic of those times, it makes us deeply uncomfortable, especially today when much of what Carter said is once again true. There have been innumerable lousy cars over the years, and many are popular today (anything from England or Italy, for instance). It’s not the car as a physical object we eschew, it’s the cultural baggage it carries. Reagan’s optimism soon carried the day, but it couldn’t make the Seventies un-happen, and our cars from those years deserve to survive. After all, we drove what we made.