Non Original Engine: 1968 Mercury Cyclone

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Makes the scene in a sporty manner: Cyclone 2-door hardtop” proclaims Mercury’s 1968 sales brochure. The mid-size lineup for defunct Mercury was a bit confusing in ’68 as there was the Montego, the Cyclone, and the Cyclone GT. Today’s find, courtesy of Mr. Numskal, is a standard Cyclone fastback. We don’t encounter these often so this Brentwood, California subject will be a good one to review. It’s available, here on craigslist for $9,500.

As with the new Ford Torino, Mercury’s “sporty” intermediate, the Cyclone came in two different two-door hardtop body styles, a formal “notchback” roofline version or a slippier NASCAR-inspired fastback such as our subject car. The Montego ran the gambit of the usual suspects with a two-door formal hardtop and convertible, a four-door sedan, and a station wagon.  As for the difference between the Cyclone and Cyclone GT, the latter wore stripes, badging, unique wheel covers, heavy-duty suspension, wider tires, and bucket seats. Curiously, both the GT and non-GT versions employed the same standard V8 engine, larger ones were available as options, however. Our subject car is one of 12K assembled though I wonder how many exist today – they seem to be rarely encountered.

Back to that engine business, both the standard Cyclone and the GT version left the assembly line with a 210-gross HP 302 CI V8 as the base powerplant. This Cyclone has a replacement “newer small block” motor but its displacement is not disclosed. More importantly, it doesn’t run but the original 302 engine is included in the sale. A Merc-O-Matic three-speed automatic transmission channels the power – when there is some to channel.

The listing is light on details, but this fastback’s body shows pretty well. The finish has some shine to it and I can’t detect any rust, at least with the included images. It appears to be complete, trim-wise, and it’s wearing some slightly tarnished chrome slotted wheels – they look like ’70s leftovers.

The white bench seat interior looks like tetanus shot territory, I would say it’s a letdown compared to the exterior. White will always reveal dirt in a grander fashion than say, black, but dirt is dirt regardless. It appears to be complete, with nothing missing, but I doubt a deep cleaning will be productive. Things like the door panels and headliner, at least what can be seen, check out and the instrument panel just looks dusty – nothing worse. This is an A/C equipped car but the belt is off the compressor, and it, and the engine in general, don’t look like they’ve turned a lick in many moons.

OK, so now it’s what to do with it time. I’d say this Mercury has some value to it because it’s just not that common. Job one would be to get it running, and running well – maybe employing some mods would be warranted. I don’t think having a non-original engine matters much in this case, but I would like to know exactly what it is and if it’s stuck. Beyond that, do some serious fumigating in that hinky interior, agreed?

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  1. Joe

    Interior is a question mark for me looks to be a 69 interior with the headrest being 69 vintage, 1968’s didn’t have headrests. Federal law mandated any vehicle had to have headrests starting Jan 1 1969 that was about midway through the 69 model year. Production of 68’s was over by mid July. 1968. So very interesting to me !

    Like 4

      I cannot speak directly about the 1968 Montego/Cyclone line but I can tell you that headrests were available in the 1968 Cougar. Just take a look at the black 1968 Cougar X code that was just posted here on BF to see what they look like. If you pull the headrest up away from the seat look at the support system. In 1968 there will be two round rods, in 1969 there is one center rectangle shaped piece of steel.

      Like 1
  2. BoatmanMember

    Undoubtedly a 302. Could be a 351W though. Hard to tell from a pic.

    Like 1
    • Alex McGill

      My friend had one in Mechanic School it had a 390 CI. The funny thing is he crashed my 1969 Chrysler 300 with a 440 CI and offered to give me his Ford but I couldn’t take it. I took the loss. Friends!!!!!!

      Like 5
      • Jason

        I’ve never seen this before, of course I wasn’t looking for it, but I will be now! I really like this fastback.

        Like 0
  3. Terrry

    I always liked the looks of the Cyclone over the Torino, but I’d love to have either. I think this example’s engine that’s in it now is in better shape than the original, which looks like a very rusty, seriously stuck lump in the ad. However, the car looks like it could be a good project. If it was mine I’d probably yank the motor that’s in it and put a slightly massaged 351W in its place.

    Like 11
  4. Midway

    This car with a 390 and 4 speed would fly, can’t understand why a 302 would be an option in a 4000# car.

    Like 7
    • Joe

      302 was the standard base model as these cars were 3250 curb weight. Only other engines were big block 390 or 428. My 68 torino gt fastback 302 , 4 speed and sits at 3400 with a full tank of gas.

      Like 5
      • CadmanlsMember

        When I was stationed in Minot ND my good friend had a 302 4 speed Torino fastback. We put headers, aftermarket intake. Here it got good we put a hot 289 camshaft in it in the winter in an unheated garage. Went slow but we got it done and that car ran pretty good. Just changed the firing order and the 302 didn’t care.

        Like 2
      • Steven Baker

        I would love to see your Torino GT. My parents had a regular 302 one. All black with red trim. Beautiful car until dad totaled it when I was 3 years old. But, have loved the torino. As to the cyclone, I personally would own it too,but really don’t was to take the time to travel to California and then rebuild a 302. And yeah it does look like a rebuild for a 351ci.

        Like 0
      • KCJ

        I’m not sure about the 68,I knew a girl that had a 70 I think it was,It had the 428 it would chirp the tires easily just running through the gears,I love them

        Like 0
  5. Don

    Those wheels. Ugh. The 80’s were a bad time for wheels.

    Like 3
    • David Ulrey

      You could go so far as to say there’s something ‘Supernatural’ about those wheels. 😆

      Like 2
  6. CarbobMember

    Another cryptic Craigslist ad. But hip hip, hooray it has one whole photo of the engine. I think it’s going to need at a minimum a whole redo of the interior so that alone would make you upside down at the seller’s ask especially if you have the whole thing done correctly and professionally. Five years of inactivity means that you have lots of parts to replace and the engine that’s presently installed is a pig in a poke. Possibly quite rusty underneath too. And I don’t need a mooring anchor anymore so the seller can keep the original engine as far as I would be concerned. At half the price I might be willing to take it because I love the fastback style and I like Mercury. But it is in California and I’m on the east coast. And I’m too old to realistically take on the project. I’m hoping that someone can get this car back on the road. But I think that the seller will have to be willing to accept much less than what they are asking for.

    Like 1
  7. CCFisher

    In addition to Montego, Montego MX, Montego MX Brougham, Cyclone, and Cyclone GT, there was also a Comet hardtop coupe at the bottom of the lineup.

    Like 3
  8. Monte Thompson

    I had a 68 cyclone gt 390 4 speed, orange with white stripes.Black bucket seat interior ,no air conditioner. Wish I still had it. I do have my 73 H/O black with gold stripes.

    Like 0
  9. Aaron Morrison

    Mine is just like yours except automatic transmission. First car. Bought it at a police auction in ’78. Still have it.

    Like 0

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