1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II Dan Gurney Special, the rest of the story
1969 was a very different time in America. Richard Nixon was President, a house could be bought for $40,000.00. and gas for 36 cents a gallon! A postage stamp cost $0.06 and the average income was $8,547.00.
Ford and Mercury were racing in NASCAR and wanted to win more races. Unlike today, in 1969 the race cars were Stock Cars! They were all built from cars straight off the show room floor or their counterparts. 1969 was the time when the manufacturers discovered that aerodynamics was as good as horsepower when it came to the long high banked tracks. This was the time of the AERO WARS on the high speed NASCAR tracks. The factories were into manufacturing some pretty wild cars just to win on Sunday and sell on Monday. This resulted in the Ford Talladega, Dodge Daytona, Plymouth Super Bird and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II. NASCAR mandated that at least 500 of each car be manufactured to qualify for racing.
Spoiler II was the Mercury designation for cars with the extended sheet metal on the nose. To build 500 such cars was a tall order for Mercury; each Cyclone Spoiler II had 19.5 inches of new sheet metal added to the front of the car. The entire front end was cut off just In front of the front tires and an entirely new, sloped nose was grafted to the original fenders. These cars were all hand built. Many believe the Ford Talladega and the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II are identical. In fact the Talladega had only 15.5 inches added to its nose. The Mercury Spoiler II’s nose is not only longer it is also built at a steeper 35-degrees vs the Talladega’s 30-degrees. At high speeds these differences actually made the Spoiler II up to 2 mph faster than the Talladega. Most also believe the Talladega and Spoiler II have identical bodies, this also is not true. The only shared components between the cars are their bumpers, grilles, and turn signals!
As stated earlier, NASCAR mandated that at least 500 of these hand built extended nose cars had to be manufactured. According to the Official Cyclone Spoiler Registry, Mercury built only 353 out of a reported 503 units. How did they do that? They built 353 extended “D” nosed cars parked them in the front of a parking lot; took 150 regular “W” nosed Cyclone Spoilers painted in the same colors and parked them in the back of the same parking lot. When NASCAR counted the cars they just never looked closely enough at the cars in the rear!
Of the actual Spoiler and Spoiler II’s built the total was divided between two cars; a portion were Cale Yarborough Specials and the remainder were Dan Gurney Specials. The official Cyclone Spoiler Registry, in 1992, found only 42 Cale Yarborough and 34 Dan Gurney Spoiler II cars were confirmed to still exist. This included parts cars rusted out hulks.
Katrina and I had been half heartedly looking for a Ford Talladega for many years and had come close but never closed the deal. While browsing the internet for muscle cars I stumbled onto an ad for a Cyclone Spoiler II. It is very similar to the Ford Talladega but much flashier and profound. We had never really considered a Spoiler II because they are so difficult to find. The Talladega has a bigger motor but is very plain and can easily be lost in a crowd.
In 2004 the Mercury I spotted was interesting but located in Tennessee (we lived in California at the time). Katrina and I had just returned from there four weeks earlier while on vacation. We talked some about the car, sent some emails to the seller and eventually decided it was worth a flight to Nashville to investigate if it was what it was as advertised. (It reportedly had been in a museum for the past 15 years.)
We arrived in Murfreesboro, TN around 1:00 AM on Saturday morning (October 2004) and by 10:00 AM we were standing over our soon to be Spoiler II. We looked it over carefully, took it for a drive and asked lots of questions. The car was everything we expected. We closed the deal and arranged to have our new acquisition shipped to California in an enclosed semi car hauler.
Sometime prior to acquiring the Spoiler II Katrina and I had decided we wanted to move from California. We had spent considerable time researching and traveling around the Country to find the perfect place. Prior to the acquisition of the car from Tennessee we had never heard of Murfreesboro, TN. However, as we continued to look we agreed that we liked Murfreesboro better than any other place we found. In January of 2006 we moved to Murfreesboro and returned our Mercury Spoiler II to the hometown were we found it! Needless to say the seller was surprised to see it again.
The person we purchased the car from had owned the car since 1997 when he purchased the car from the third owner in VA. However, the car was registered to his business in FL. Because the person we purchased the car from owned a used car dealership in TN he never registered the car in TN, it remained on an open FL title. (This is procedure is required by the State of Tennessee for used car dealers.)
The car was picked up for shipping by on October 15, 2004 and arrived in Upland, CA on October 21, 2004. The car was never removed or moved inside the transporter during its long haul from Tennessee to California.
I spoke with the original owners, Carl and Betty Tout, on 10/12/04 and received a hand written letter from him on 01/10/05. The car was sold new to Carl and Betty Tout in Kailua, Hawaii from Pflueger Lincoln Mercury in Honolulu. Although the car was scheduled to be manufactured on March 11, 1969, its actual date of construction was March 13, 1969. However, it was not sold until April 17, 1970, over a year latter and months after the new 1970 Mercury Cyclones went on the street. This unique 1969 was certainly a “left over close out” and was the only Spoiler II sold in Hawaii. The dealer had advertised the car as a close out and when he went to the dealership they took him to a warehouse were the car was stored. It had the back of the front seat removed (it had been used to replace a damaged seat in another new car). It also was shipped without a heater. This is documented to be the only Spoiler II ever built without a heater. I had a MartiAutoWorks vehicle build sheet prepared from Ford production records. In this report it is listed that this car was built as a “Heater Delete”. These cars were reported to have only one option, AM radio.
Shortly after the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II’s hit the high speed race tracks they proved to be faster than the Talladega. The Blue Oval folks didn’t want to steel sales from there bread and butter Ford line so they began to restrict the number of Mercurys on the track and switched most of the winning factory Blue Oval drivers to Talladegas.
This was the Tout’s first new car and they affectionately named it “Bullet”. Both worked for the military and had always owned old cars that they restored. When their three children left the house they splurged with the purchase of the Spoiler II for Carl and a Mustang for Betty. However, when it was time for them to move to the mainland, only the Spoiler II made the trip. Once on the mainland in Washington they had a used heater installed and fitted a trailer hitch to the Spoiler and hooked up a 15′ trailer for the move to Florida. (When we received the car in October of 2004 we found the four holes that were drilled into the floor of the trunk for the trailer hitch. We plugged them with four bolts and undercoated them.)
Carl believed in selling a car before it was out of warranty. In those days new cars came with a 50,000 mile warranty. In 1974, with just under 50,000 miles, they sold the car to a private party in Florida for $1,000 and purchased a new, left over, 1973 Riviera.
The car remained on a Florida title. I spoke with the third owner, John Scanelli regarding his ownership of the Spoiler II. He stated that Greg Donahue, business associate and nationally recognized muscle car expert and restorer, spotted the car driving around in Clear Water, Florida. One day it had a for sale sign and John jumped on it. Donahue wrote the book “How to Restore Muscle Cars” and did a monthly article for Car Review Magazine. The Spoiler II was used in several “how to” articles such as restoring the engine compartment. The car was also featured in two different magazine articles in the late 1980′s. After our ownership the car has been featured in Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine, Muscle Car TV, PowerBlock TV and ESPN2 Mothers Car Show.