Tom Shaw
September 1, 2004

One of the most overused clichs in the vintage Ford hobby is that four letter word rare. Some folks insist on using it to describe cars that were cranked out like potato chips. But we don't think anybody would object if we refer to Steve Honell's '70 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II as rare. None were built. This Competition Orange knockout, sleek and packed with Boss 429 power, came close, but was never put into production. A pity.

This was to be Mercury's version of FoMoCo's next-generation aero design, taking over from the very successful Torino Talladega and Cyclone Spoiler II. Ford's model-called the King Cobra-was the focus of development. Completion of the new Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II lagged 60 days behind the King Cobra.

The King Cobra and Cyclone Spoiler II were more than concept cars. In the spring and summer of 1969, Ford styling and engineering were moving full speed ahead to ready these radical designs for full production. Ford had just been slapped upside the head with Dodge's winged, pointy-nose Daytona and had to answer back. The comparatively tame '69 Talladega and Cyclone Spoiler II were regulars in NASCAR winner's circle, but in those times of intense competition, Ford had to have more, and this was it. Internal documents show Ford planned to build and sell around 3,500 sleek-beak King Cobra Torinos prior to January 1, 1970, to qualify the model for NASCAR competition.

These were the most dramatic aero designs ever to come out of Dearborn's styling studios. From the cowl back, the King Cobra and Cyclone Spoiler II were standard intermediate cars. but from there forward, they were a wind-cutting, downforce-generating, competition-spanking departure.

It wasn't just a new shape this potent pair would bring to the party. The supremely powerful Boss 429 engine (already NASCAR-legal) was planned as a production engine option across the Torino and Cyclone lines. Early sales literature printed prior to introduction of the '70 models shows the big Boss as an option. What a mighty package it would have been.

To the disappointment of Ford enthusiasts everywhere, the end of the program came in August 1969 when deep cuts to the racing budget were announced. As Ford's assembly plants were in conversion to produce the '70 models, the King Cobra and Cyclone Spoiler II fell to the cruel swing of the axe. The project was over, leaving only a few prototypes, a handful of related parts, some photographs, and a big question mark about what might have been.

Steve Honell has a passion for Ford's last-generation aero cars. He owns a King Cobra and has just completed work on the only Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II in existence. Using the vintage styling studio photos as a pattern, Steve poured his heart and soul into meticulously bringing the legend to life. it debuted at the Ford 100th Anniversary (where, as you might imagine, it drew a lot of attention). It's loaded with Ford's Grand Slam driveline: 375hp (the factory's advertised rating) Boss 429 engine, a Top Loader four-speed, and a 9-inch axle.

It would have been nice to see Cale and the boys duking it out on NASCAR tracks behind the wheel of a lightning-quick fleet of Spoiler IIs. It would have been great to have seen these beauties in showrooms and on the street. But at least we can admire the lone, awesome creation that deserves the name, SuperMerc.

Ford's Aero Timeline1962 The Starlift, a proposed optional lift-off top for the full-size Galaxie designed to reduce aerodynamic drag, is cancelled.

January 1963 The now-famous fastback Galaxie is introduced in Monaco, Monte Carlo, site of one of Ford's high-profile endurance racing victories. Also introduced was the mighty 7-liter 427 engine.

1969 Torino Talladega and Cyclone Spoiler II, limited production intermediates modified for improved aerodynamic performance, meet NASCAR's sales requirements and begin appearing in races. Among those running Fords that year was NASCAR's winningest driver, Richard Petty.

July 1969 Designs are finalized for the King Cobra. Styling clays for the Cyclone Spoiler II promise even better aerodynamic performance thanks to a smoother backlight area.

August 1969 Budget cuts force the cancellation of the King Cobra and Cyclone Spoiler II programs. Only a handful of prototypes survive.