1968 Mercury Cyclone GT 500; We have the Proof!
The following information regarding the 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT 500 is published with the most recent information available on top. As you read down, this information gets older AND LESS ACCURATE. The information at the top of the article is the most accurate we have at the time of the update. Where there are conflicts of information please rely on that closest to the top. Very soon we will be taking this page down and eliminating the oldest information. We will only publish what is yet in question and what we known to be reasonably accurate. We will be eliminating the rumors we have found to most likely be untrue. IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION, PHOTOS OR OTHER RELEVANT DATA ON THESE CARS PLEASE SEND IT TO Richard@LegendaryCollectorCars.com SO WE CAN SHARE IT WITH ALL OF OUR OTHER READERS.
However, the questions continue to come in and add additional questions to what we thought we knew. Click Here to visit our newest unknown, a Green “possible” GT 500. Look it over and tells what you think. Can you help prove this is real or something else?
Because we have so many pages of information devoted to the Talladega and Spoiler II cars we have developed an entire site devoted to just these cars. In addition that site includes the first ONLINE REGISTRY FOR THE 1969 FORD TALLADEGA, 1969 MERCURY CYCLONE SPOILER AND SPOILER II, THE 1969 MERCURY CYCLONE COLOR CODE CARS PLUS THE 1968 MERCURY CYCLONE GT 500 CARS (simply click here). We encourage you to visit that site as well as use the Search feature on this site to find out more about these rare and desirable cars.
Here are some of the best photos we have obtained regarding the GT 500.
We don’t talk much about the 1968 Cyclone GT 500 because we know so little and there just aren’t any around. However, we recently received an email from K. Peppers with some information and photos that we thought deserved a little special attention. If you want to know more about these cars we have listed as much as we know on this site and even register them here.
This car is not for sale so don’t ask.
Tommy Hussey has white GT 500, or does he?
I recently received a phone call from Tommy regarding his white 1968 Cyclone GT that he purchased from the original owner. The owner swears the car had never been modified since she owned it. Tommy has since repainted the car and added some NASCAR decals but states he has not otherwise modified the car AND it has both the Cyclone and GT 500 emblems including the flags. However, when he had a Marti Report completed for the car it came back without listing the GT 500 option. Does he have a GT 500 or not?
We need more evidence to figure this one out. The car was built on March 3, 1968. This is the same month as the Atlanta Race on March 31, 1969 when the first dealer promotion was held. (Read the articles much further down on this page regarding that race and the Ford World report.) Most of those cars were white. Tommy’s car is a 302; rumor has it that the white cars were 302s and the orange cars were the 390 and 428 CJs.
It is also worth a note that the Ford World report refers to the cars as Mercury Montego Cyclone 500s and not as GT 500s as the later option was called. The cars I have found with the GT 500 option were all built in a small cluster of cars in early May of 1968 just prior to their appearance at the Charlotte race in late May.
So the question remains; is this a GT 500? Is it a dealer built car? Does anyone know how the 160 promotional cars for the 1968 Atlanta race were built? Were they something the factory did based on some special order or were these cars simply Cyclones with emblems added by a dealer or the factory? The search for information goes on. If you have any additional insight please send us an email or leave a comment below.
You should also compare the photo here with the ones of the Hans Melin white car below. His also has the emblems but he sold the car many years ago and no longer has the VIN info.
Steve Berg recently provided us with this information:
In the August 1968 Motor Trend you can read the mention of the Cyclones for the Atlanta Race. They even mention Cale as having won. Also note that they wished to duplicate this slick promotion for the Charlotte World 600.
The next image is the bottom piece of Steve’s Cyclone build sheet. Notice it starts off with Charlotte 600. Steve states that the Cyclone never had a hood stripe, but notice the word hood is spelled hpod. He believes the line guys got confused and left it off. Steve has talked to the original owner, and he said it was never on the car.
In the 3rd document, Steve has provided a copy of a Build Sheet for a Cyclone that was for sale a few years ago. The seller sent him the Build Sheet and Marti Report. The gentleman selling it stated that it was 1 of 14 built for the race. The image is very poor but hope you can make out the important information.
Here is some more information that was sent to us by a reader.
I received a wonderful Christmas Present from one of our regular visitors and contributors to this site. John Drilling provided us with a newspaper advertisement for the GT 500 dated Friday, April 5, 1968. The newspaper is the Herald Journal of Spartenburg, SC.
The good news is that it describes the Montego Cyclone 500 in some detail. It includes a 390 GT engine, performance handling package, blacked out grill, dual body tape stripes, GT Turbine Wheels Covers, CYCLONE 500 IDENTIFICATION, 390 GT Engine Plaque and BUCKET SEAT interior in black or parchment trim with CORAL EXTERIOR PAINT, CHECKERED FLAG VICTORY PLAQUE. What is never mentioned in the ad is the transmission.
Now for the bad news; it still leaves a slight bit of confusion. As we currently understand it all of the GT 500 cars were built around the first of May 1968 and most if not all were in the Coral paint scheme. So, if this is correct was the Bayless Mercury dealer advertising a car that was yet to be built and delivered or was it one of the Cyclone 500 cars from the Atlanta Race?
Unfortunately, this advertisement does not specifically mention GT 500. This may have been due to the previous run of Atlanta cars being labeled as Cyclone 500s. Most if not all of these were white with a rumored Coral car or two. There is also no mention of the 428 CJ option in the ad above. However, since it is dated prior to the build date of most is not all GT 500s I bet the information provided by the factory to the dealers was not very specific or accurate on the yet to be manufactured sixty GT 500 cars. We have seen this with pre-production Ford Talladegas and other cars where the lead information is not the same as what actually was built in some details.
I have currently of the opinion that this ad is for the yet to be built GT 500 since it mentions the two interior colors and Coral exterior color.
What do you guys think?
Here is proof of the VIN over stamping on the 1968 “R” Code Cyclone GT 500.
What you see below are photos of my own personal GT 500; VIN, Data Plate and Inner Fender Stampings. I have purposely not included the entire VIN for obvious reasons. However, this VIN has been provided to the Marti Report folks and verified as a GT 500 428 CJ “R” code.
In summary, on the VIN the “R” is actually an “F” with some form of over stamp to make it an “R”. The Data Plate is a ordinary “R” stamp. On the inner fenders the location where the “R” should be in the sequence is left blank. On one fender some previous owner scratched an “R” into the blank spot.
At the bottom in the circle is an enlargement of the “R” in the VIN to assist you in seeing the over stamp. You can see that the “F” portion is obviously a deeper stamp than the remainder of the “R”.
I would love to see some other owners “stampings” to help the non-believers see the light.
Updated on 6-7-2009
If you are interested in what is being discovered about the Cyclone GT 500 you will want to be involved with the Cougar GT 500 or one of the other Factory Specials we are going after. This is your chance to get involved and really help the hobby out. Click Here to visit our new pages “FACTORY SPECIALS”.
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I have just receied some additional photos from Hans regarding his 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT 500 in White! You can read more about the car below and I have added all the photos Hans has sent. From the lettering on the front fender in one photo you can see that this 390 did some track time. It was part of the Wilson Ford Drag Club!
We are getting closer on info concerning the Orange GT 500s but now these white cars need to be documented; please help us out if you have any additional information.
Hans is also going through some Chemo treatments so say a prayer for him.
Here is another recent photo of a 68 Cyclone GT 500 just discovered in a back yard. It is a 428 CJ!
The black stripes on the hood ARE NOT ORIGIMNAL. Marvin Speaks suggests that the reason some of the GT 500s have white stripes and others have black is that the 390 cars all had white stripes and the 428 CJ cars had black. Makes sense to me but can anyone confirm this with a Marti Report or other documentation? He said he bought a 390 GT 500 in May of 1968 and it had the white stripes.
Well, now there is even more info and more confusion. Thanks to Hans Melin of CA we have some more info to put into the basket. He once owned a 1968 Wimbledon white Cyclone GT 500. He was the second owner and purchased it in the early 70s in original condition. It had a 390 and all the appropriate flag and 500 badges. Since he no longer owns the car or has the VIN and Marti Reports were not available we can not document it but we do have vintage photos which indeed show what looks like the proper emblems. This car was sold new in Santa Ana, CA a long distance from the Atlanta Region that was believed responsible for these cars. However, it is possible that it was delivered to CA. However, this does tend to support the idea of multiple special promotional cars out of 1968. If you have another let us know, we are trying to put a puzzle together.
As usual, I am wrong again; there are more questions about the entire Cyclone GT 500 issue. Thanks to John Drilling from Greendale Wisconsin some additional information is know but more questions are now unanswered.
John provided these two images.
As you can clearly see, this NASCAR program is from the 1968 Carolina 500 held on June 16, 1968. Inside this program is the attached ad for the Cyclone GT 500. You can clearly read the text on this ad. Prior to this we believed that the GT 500 was built for the Darlington Race in September. This ad suggests that they were built for the Carolina 500 held in Rockingham North Carolina. This makes me believe that the cars were a promotion for the Carolina 500 and not the Southern 500 in Darlington.
This would actually make more sense. The cars were all built in mid May and, as far as I have seen, all sold in or around the North and South Carolina area.
This makes me believe that the cars were a promotion for the Carolina 500 and not the Southern 500 in Darlington.
As further evidence, John also provided the following two additional items. The first is a letter from Ford to “All Mercury Dealers” and describes a Promotion held in conjunction with the Atlanta 500 held on March 31, 1968. (Remember the Cyclone GT 500s were not built until May of that year). It was part of a “Drive-Away Program where the new owners took delivery of their new Mercury Cyclones at the Atlanta 500 and got a lap around the track (see second image below).
You will note that most of these cars appear to be white with a few painted vermilion. You will also note that there were 160 cars built but they are not called GT 500s! They are called Montego or Cyclone 500s. This helps clear up some of the confusion from folks who claim to have white GT 500s and those with the 302 engine.
Now the questions get even more interesting:
- Does anyone have information on the Carolina 500 and a possible “Drive-Away” promotion at that race?
- How about anyone who has information on the Atlanta 500 program and those 160 cars?
- Anyone have an Atlanta 500 promotion car?
- Were there any other similar promotions at other race tracks that anyone has evidence of?
We may be on the track of a entirely lost or at least forgotten group of special interest cars!
You guys (and gals) are the best. You have given me more and better information than I have been able to get on any forum! Fellow car enthusiasts keep emailing and calling. With every phone call and every new email we learn a little bit more about these rare cars from 1968. Muscle Cars are a lot of fun to play with but the detective work it takes to learn about them is also a great deal of fun. Keep looking and letting me know what you find out.
As of this date I think we may have all the missing pieces. With the help of research conducted by Marti Auto Works here is the rest of the story….
- The cars were built for the 1968 Darlington Southern 500 held on Labor Day.
- As stated before there were only 60 Mercury Cyclone GT 500 cars ever built; all in 1968.
- They were ALL painted Vermilion. There were reports of white cars but not according to Marti.
- 45 cars out of the 60 built were produced with the 428 CJ engine.
- All 45 428 CJ cars were Ram Air equipped.
- All 45 428 CJ cars had automatic transmissions (C6).
- These cars did NOT have their own Body Code designation. Although ours only shows a “63″ others all seem to have the regular “63H” code.
- No proof but all cars seem to have black bucket seats with console.
- No info on tire and wheel combination. It is assumed that any option was available that could be had on a regular GT.
- There was a swept back checkered flag emblem on a small pole located on the rear quarter panels.
- The build date on the my car is May 4, 1968. The car was sold on June 10th; most of the cars seem to be built in this window. Most likely all at the same time.
- It has been stated that the checkered flag cam from a 64 Comet – part number C3MB16188A C3MB16189A. The part number for the 500 emblem is C8AB – 82290098 – A and it looks like a 68 Galaxy.
The following information has not been edited since it was posted. It provides a historical and chronological record of the information (true or false) as we received it.
As of 2/3/09 we now know a little more. I am still waiting on some research that the Marti Report folks are doing for me but I will give you the info I have collected from the most recent 3 car guys who have called or emailed me. One even came from out of state to talk and look at cars.Guys who have owned GT 500s as well as recorded VINs and data plates have helped put some more pieces of the puzzle together. My previous information about all the cars being 428 CJs and all identical is most certainly not true. It appears that at least a couple of the cars were white and not Vermilion (orange). The Vermilion cars that have been reported all had bucket seats in black but side stripes could be white or black. The upper stripe is not a GT stripe but rather the thinner version. It seems that advertisements for the cars showed wheel covers but many were optioned with the steel wheels, trim rings and center caps.Based on what I have been told as well as the advertisement for the car it is unlikely that any 302 cars were built. However, I have received insistent reports that more than one 302 car has been seen and validated. The official position is that the base engine was a 390 but the Q Code and R Code 428 could also had in the GT 500.
Here is what the text in the advertisement of the Race Program for the Darlington Southern 500 from 1969 has to say. Just above this text is a photo of Cale Yarborough’s Cyclone #21 followed closely by Le Roy Yarbrough’s #26:“Above are two stocks worth holding onto-good bets for the long pull. Like 500 miles flat-out at Daytona and Atlanta where track-modified Montego Cyclones finished 1-2, turning each place into a kind of outdoor showroom! If you’d like a piece of the action in a road version, we recommend our Montego Cyclone GT “500″ with a list of goodies as long as your arm. A 390 GT V-8 for openers, 325 horses strong (or, for quicker effects, our 428 Cobra Jet V-8). Dual pipes, Whitewalled wide treads and GT (turbine) wheel covers. A suspension system with one of driving’s biggest handling charges. Blackout grille and taillight panel. Tinted rear window. Twin buckets in a vinyl that “breathes” to help you keep your cool. Deluxe vinyl-wrapped steering wheel. Wood-grained instrument panel and authoritative gauges. Nylon carpeting. Even the body is striped for action. you won’t miss the racing numerals. especially when you hit the road!”
Mercury’s got it…the? Competitive Edge!” MERCURY
Who won the 1969 Southern 500? Cale Yarborough in his Mercury Cyclone!
The following information was as of 1/2/09. Finally, after six months I have some really good info on the GT 500. Thanks to Alan Miller, who owns one of these very rare cars (pictured below) I now have a much better idea of what we have. However, there are still some unanswered questions. I will bring you up to date along with what info I am still looking for.
1. The 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT 500 was built for the 1968 Southern 500 in Darlington. As stated previously, only 60 of these cars were built and they have their own body code on the Data Plate. It was previously believed that all of them were 428 CJ cars but this was not the case.
2. The base engine was a 390 with the 428 CJ as an option.
3. I still believe that all of them were painted Vermilion (Calypso Coral) with white lower and upper stripes (the thin ones). There were additional emblems on the rear quarter panels; a 500 emblem and one checkered flag. (see photos)
4. All interiors were believed to be black with bucket seats and console but could be either 4 speed or automatic. The steering wheel should have a leather wrap and the dash should have the wood grain treatment.
5. An advertisement from the Southern 5oo program provides additional insight into the standard equipment and it can only be assumed that all regular options could be added to the car from there.
6. One very interesting bit of information I am lacking is details about the 1968 use of the 428 CJ in the Cyclones. The reference books I use only list Q, 8, or P as possible engine codes in the VIN. The 428 CJ only became available in Cyclones, Mustangs and Torinos very late in the model run and are referred to in most books as 68 1/2 models. In 1969 the R code in the VIN referred to the 428 CJ Ram Air motor in the Cyclone.
The Marti Report for our GT 500 states that our VIN with an R for the engine code in the VIN is a 428 but makes no reference to the Ram Air. Since our car was missing its engine and hood there is no way to know if it should be a Ram Air car or not. DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THERE WERE ANY 1968 RAM AIR CARS BUILT?
PREVIOUS INFORMATION THAT WAS PROVIDED BEFORE JUNE 2008
I have what is called a 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT 500 with a Marti Report to document what it is. The car is so far gone it is difficult to know what it is suppose to look like. The Marti Report says only 60 GT 500s were built. I have no idea what this gt 500 option included or how the car should look. Is it worth a restoration? Is the GT 500 something cool or just another stripe package?
I do know the car is an original 428 CJ so it does have some value. I have been told it was a special edition built for a NASCAR race in Charlotte and that likely all 60 were identical. It is suppose to be a GT with a GT 500 option, vermilion color, black bucket seats with console, PS, PB and AM radio. I also understand it should have some emblems on it but not sure what they should be. I have heard of two others in existence but can’t find owners or pictures of any.