The Cyclone received Mercury’s biggest facelift in 1968, switching from 1967’s boxy, Fairlane-derived coupe body to the super-streamlined Torino-based fastback. Unfortunately, the Cyclone GT lost the 335-hp, 390-cdi V-8 as its standard engine, instead replaced by the 210-hp, 302-cid V-8. No matter, though, as the fastback was handsome and could be equipped with a 230-hp 302, 265- or 325-hp 390-cid V-8s, (briefly) a 390-hp version of the 427-cid V-8, or a 335-hp, 428-cid V-8.
By 1969, the Mercury Cyclone formal hardtop had been canceled and the GT fastback was also available as a CJ model. That came with the 335-hp, 428-cid V-8 standard, a four-speed transmission, and a plain bench seat interior. At $3,207, the CJ was aimed at the Plymouth Road Runner, and a 435-hp version could run 0-60 in 6.1 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 13.9 seconds.
The Mercury Cyclone Spoiler and the Ford Torino Talladega launched the NASCAR streamliner battle when Cale Yarborough won the Daytona 500 in 1968 in a Woods Brothers Cyclone. Dodge produced the Daytona 500 and Ford retaliated with the Torino Talladega and Mercury Spoiler. Both were to have streamlined noses, but the Mercury launch was delayed until the mid-year Cyclone Spoiler II. Only 519 were sold, all with 351-cid V-8s instead of the bigger 428. A Dan Gurney special edition had a dark blue roof, striping, and a signature decal on the white lowers, while the Cale Yarborough edition was red and white like his Woods Brothers car, with a signature.
Three Cyclone models were produced for 1970, all of which shared the Torino’s semi-fastback body, and all of which carried a four-part nose. The base car had a 360-hp, 429-cid V-8and a four-speed transmission. Options included a 370-hp, 429-cid V-8 engine and a 375-hp, Super CJ 429-cid engine. There were also a few Boss 429s installed, though those cars are quite rare today. Meanwhile, the Cyclone GT was detuned to a 250-hp, 351-cid V-8 and the Spoiler packed a Ram-Air 370-hp, 429.
The 1971 model year was the Cyclone’s last, as the muscle car wars wound down. With few changes from 1970, the Cyclone was absorbed into the Mercury Montego line, and only 444 Montego Cyclones were sold, along with 2,287 Cyclone GTs and 353 Cyclone Spoilers. Engine options ranged from the 210-hp, 302-cid V-8, all the way to the fire-breathing 370-hp, 429-cid Cobra-Jet V-8, to which a Ram-Air package could be added.
Mercury Cyclones occupy an interesting niche in the muscle car world, along with Oldsmobile W-30s and Buick GSX Stage Is. The car is a fantastic expression of American muscle, albeit one from a mid-level, luxury-oriented nameplate. As a result, the Cyclone is mostly overshadowed by the Ford Mustang and Torino. The Cyclone’s sleeper status makes it a great value, and most cars remain within reach of any buyer. As with any muscle car of the era, the importance of documentation in terms of market price rises exponentially as the car’s horsepower ratings climb.