(first posted 12/12/2014, before Joseph Dennis became a regular contributor) This ’70 Cyclone sports one of the most memorable faces of the classic muscle-car era, with its deeply sculpted grille and central “gun port”. Joseph Dennis caught this one on the streets of Chicago, looking menacing, especially in B&W. But if you’re wondering what color it is, there’s one of that too.
This one, with the ever-more popular steelies and dog dishes, actually plays down the Cyclone’s extravagant personality.
Here’s a better look at that rather unique grille. There were several Cyclone models in 1970, the last one before it was watered down for 1971. The GT started with a 351 V8, but there were several 429s on tap too.
The Cyclone Spoiler was a response to the GTO Judge, and was oriented to the serious performance set. Standard engine was the 429 CJ (Cobra Jet), rated at 370 hp with functional ram air induction. the 375 hp Super Cobra Jet was optional, and most assuredly made more than the five hp bump from the regular CJ. These were stout mills, in every sense of the word, even if they never attained anywhere near the popularity and continued development of Chevy’s big block V8.
When I was a pre-teen in the late 70s a guy down the street had a Cyclone Spoiler painted with a thick coat of “grabber green” paint mixed with several pounds of metal flake – from the look of it – made the car look like a kindergartener’s art project. He hated the paint when he bought the car and spent the summer stripping it off – he enlisted a number of car-crazy neighborhood kids to help with the process. My first chemical burns from aircraft stripper, yay!
He ended up painting it an attractive shade of red with black accents and black spoiler. Looked very sharp when he was done with it.
Hmm, now that I am thinking about it, this would be around 1976 placing that car in “old car” territory for northern Ohio and likely not that many people would have treated it as something the least bit special.
That first b/w picture is pretty amazing. Half light, reflections from the water standing at the curb, and in the shadows a quietly brooding Cyclone.
And these were some of my favorite underappreciated cars of the muscle car era too. The protruding beak (dare one call it a Knudsen nose?) may have looked a little silly on some of the lesser models, but on the Cyclone it was all business and the deep sculpturing worked very well with the hidden lamps. Better details than the equivalent Torino, IMO, though these didn’t get the fastback “sportsroof” body style that was available on the Torino.
These Cyclones also had some NASCAR heritage, with David Pearson’s Wood Brothers #21 being perhaps the best known.
I read the beak made them less aerodynamic than the 70 models and some race teams hung onto last years Mecuries.
That square thing in the center of the grille is a dead ringer for the alarm klasxon at my old Shop .
This car reminds me that there’s a new Mad Max movie coming out soon.
Besides the ‘Bunkie Beak’, one of the most noteworthy things about the 1970 Cyclone GT was that it had a special dash with a tachometer and three additional, smaller gauges installed in the padded dash to the right of the main pointer-and-scale speedometer, with the extra gauges angled toward the driver. That can’t have been cheap to make.
All the Torino got was one of those small, drum tachometers.
The Aussie ‘Mad Max’ Falcon and 68-71 Cyclone/Torino are similar, in that they are based on the 60’s Falcon platform. But AUS went to their own body around this time, and then their own everything else eventually.
I like this,not as much as a 68 though.My brother snapped a lime green one a few years ago,they’re pretty rare now as they were prone to rust.
I’m pretty sure the pictures were made on Sheridan Road around Montrose ave. in the Uptown neighborhood of the City of Chicago, in Cook County Illinois.
It’s in nice shape for around here, I can’t spot a city sticker so it may be a visitor from some place that can have nice things. It had best leave Chicago soon if it wants to stay nice.
I was 10 years old when these came out in the fall of 1969. I thought it was the coolest styling job in the history of the automobile. Had I been older with more sense, I might have thought “wow, that’s a little out there.” But I was not. Today, all these years later, my inner 10 year old still delights in this car.
The “regular” Montegos, however, looked awful with this nose, even to 10 year old me.
I remember trying to buy a model kit of this car. The store did not have a price tag on it. The clerk made up some number that was about double the $2.25 that model kits all cost back then. I liked the car, but not that much. I never saw that kit at my neighborhood drugstore again.
I’ve seen model kits of Pearson’s NASCAR Cyclone, but not the street car. Would be cool to see one, 🙂
Amazing to some that Mercury, Buick, and Oldsmobile offered ‘muscle cars’, contrasting their staid images. Just a few years later, and the Cougars would be all luxo cruisers and no Cyclones at all.
Poking around on google a bit, it seems the street version was an MPC kit, and looks to be pretty rare today. Someone has repopped the body in resin. With either resin or an old-stock kit, you’d be looking at a lot more than $2.25 to make-up for that missed opportunity today. 🙂
To be fair, $2.25 would be a lot to a kid back in 1970. Then, having some snot clerk double the price out of shear stupidity (for what is now a valuable collectible) would be extremely aggravating and I can see what it wasn’t forgotten.
I did get hold of that kit way back then. I sure wouldn’t build it like this today!
When I saw the last pic of the yellow Cyclone, I thought the front end looked like a skull. Weird.
A friend of my dad’s once had a car that apparently shouldn’t have existed: a 1969 Mercury Comet with a 428 Cobra Jet, one of two imported into Canada. It was basically a “sleeper” version of the Cyclone.
Yes, the Comet name was the ‘stripper’ trim of the 68-69 Mid size Mercurys. There was a small feature story on these in Collectible Automobile a few months ago, sold in low #’s. Name was gone for ’70, returning on Maverick badge job for ’71.
Never knew this until I read article, always assuming last bigger Comet was ’67.
There is nothing I don’t like about this car, love it!
I definitely will never forget this face. When I was a kid and budding car nut, trying to learn everything I could about cars, I used to head over to the public library not too far from my house. There, I could go through volumes of Chilton Repair Manuals, and each contained line drawings showing the front end of all the models offered by manufacturers in a given year. The Cyclone for 1970 always stood out to me, as it looked so strange in a line drawing, with the prominent gunsight right on its nose. I’d never seen one in person or even in pictures at that point in my life, so the unusual line drawing image really stuck with me. I later was given a copy of Tad Burness’s Car Spotter’s Guide, which helped put all the Mercurys in better context, including the Cyclone. A wild, rare product from a wild, bygone era.
My dad had the ’67-’74 Chiltons manual. Some of the drawings were kind of weird, having an actual photo of part of the nose like the grill or the grill and bumper superimposed into the drawing. This is what I poured over and learned all my makes and models from, although it was sometimes a bit confusing as not every caption was correct and some sub models or years were missing. Interestingly it had towing instructions with photo examples for how to connect the old strap type tow truck hitches and a couple of them clearly showed tender valance panels crushed in or the cars weight supported by a lower grill.
Cougar jumped the shark with this restyle……very sad, the first Gen was very pretty…..It was the 70’s however…
On the subject though I always wondered why the 71-73 Cougars didn’t get hidden headlights like this. It really wouldn’t have been such a radical departure from the 70 model if that were the case
Another nice 2 door coupe from the ’70s. I was born a couple of decades too late to be able to buy a really nice car. There were so many back then. I have yet to figure out what turned the car world upside down and caused cars to be the ugly generic transportation appliances they are today. Ford even destroyed the styling of the Mustang for 2015.
I love Ford’s styling in this 1969-1972 period, the front end on these is among my favorite. Though I always wished the Cyclone got the Torino sportsroof in 70/71 as it had in 1968 and 1969 as well as the 72 and 73s for that matter. These seem to use the use standard Torino 2 door bodyshell only in these years for some reason, which isn’t unattractive, but I just love agressive looking the Torino sportsroof quarter windows
I’m not really a Ford guy when it comes to cars like this, but for some reason I always liked the looks of these. But this one definitely looks better in black and white. A car like this should be bright yellow, orange or maybe “Grabber Green”.
Still, it’s nice to see one in stock shape. Ford didn’t really develop the 429 to it’s full potential because it arrived just about the time the party ended but these days guys are getting as much or more out of these engines than big block Chevys.
I don’t think I ever saw one of these early ’70s Merc intermediates without a “bent beak” though. It didn’t take much to mess up that unique front end.
I knew a guy that had a ’70 Spoiler in yellow parked in another friends garage around 1999. It was all original, maybe 60k miles. Dusty and hadn’t run in a decade. I thought about quitting my summer job and restoring it for the owner for a nominal fee. But I knew my summer job could turn into a full time job after college so I passed.
The hideaway headlights are one of my favorite features. Because the vacuum was gone the flaps were stuck up. I disconnected the spring so they would fall and I could see the sinister face of the Cyclone whenever I visited that friend. I don’t know what became of the car.
Nice photos. That brown profile photo actually makes the car look good.
I have heard that the ’70 Montego was considered “the last straw” by the insurance industry, and that it was this design specifically that prompted the push for 5 mph bumpers.
I was about to post the same observation and then saw yours. There was a lot of talk in the media in those days complaining about how ineffective bumpers were in cars of this era, no doubt encouraged by the insurance companies. But to me it seems the 1974 solution was overkill. Eventually it turned out it was costing more to repair cars with the expensive gas filled bumper shocks and high priced huge bumpers. But the plastic covers used today that scratch with any kind of impact are a poor replacement. Nowadays they will raise your rates if you file any kind of claim, so I guess that’s another way for them to save money by letting the owner pay for minor bumper damage or not bother to get it fixed. Btw I really like the color of this example, but it really deserves nicer wheels.
I’d be surprised. There were a lot more fragile noses than this in that era. Camaro, Vega, Gremlin, LeMans, Challenger and Barracuda all come to mind. At least there is some curb protection for the parking lights on the Montego models. Those 5mph bumpers, though ugly, did work. My fiancé’s dad had an ’80 Volare with which she hit a ’77 Cutlass hard in the nose in a parking lot. We were cringing as both cars sat quivering for a couple of seconds. We nervously got out to find (hallelujah!) no damage to either car. Two comparable models ten years older – probably $1500 damage.
I’m not surprised the snout of the 1970 Montego was trumpeted as the reason for the need for 5mph bumpers, but it has little to do with any actual deficiency. Rather, that big beak simply ‘looks’ like it would be the worst, and that’s more than enough for safety zealots to use it.
But, yeah, in reality, I have no doubt that there were plenty of other bumpers that were a whole lot more fragile. For example, the 1970 Camaro RS ‘bumperettes’ look like they would be absolutely useless in any kind of low speed collision.
I bet a number of people hit the nose when parallel parking near one of these cars. You see the headlights in your side view, but misjudge the nose sticking out.
Other than the Cyclone getting the “Montego” tacked onto its name, and the base engine being changed for the Cyclone and Cyclone Spoiler, there wasn’t that much watering down for 1971. Ford didn’t drop the compression on many of their hi-po engines in 1971 like GM did. In both 1970 and 1971 the Cyclone came in three versions. The basic Cyclone, the Cyclone GT and the Cyclone Spoiler. In 1970 the Cyclone and the Cyclone Spoiler both came standard with the 360-hp 429-4V ‘Thunder Jet’, while this was downgraded in 1971 to the 351-4V (Cleveland). However, in 1971 the three variations of the 429 remained unchanged and produced the same power and performance as the 1970 models. In both 1970 and 1971 the Cyclone GT came standard with a 351-2V. The 429 CJ and 429 SCJ were very powerful and underrated muscle car engines. Equipped properly these big heavy cars ran low 14 secs and could dip into a 13 sec 1/4 mile.
This was one of the cars that made me think, “Wow, Ford has really lost their minds”. I didn’t change my opinion that they had gone off the tracks, styling wise, until over 30 years later. I’ve never seen a Ford vehicle from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and even the 90’s that didn’t have at least one thing that ruined it’s looks. I can’t say the same about any other US automaker. Ford seems to have turned the corner on styling since the early 2000’s, and I’m not repulsed by their stuff anymore. I like the trucks better than the cars, but it took a long time for even the trucks not to have something odd like weird fender flares on them, or trim that looked like it came off something else. The weird different color flares were something I would always laugh at when I saw them, and think they would have at least been tolerable if they were the same color, but in their usual fleshtone, they just looked super dorky.
I wonder how many Cyclone GTs still exist today…can’t be many! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a GT in person, and I’ve managed to stumble across almost everything!
I take that back; I have pictures of a ’72 GT (Montego) with a 351-4V. No ’70s or ’71s though…and the ’72 isn’t a Cyclone.
The Cyclone did exist in 1972, although only as an option package. For the early part of the 1972 model year you could get the “Cyclone” option package on either the Montego GT, the Montego MX or the Montego (only on 2-door models). Almost all were the fastback Montego GT’s though. There were very few made and there are maybe 2 cars that have survived. The option group basically included a Ram Air induction, striping, larger tires, traction-lok differential and a few other performance related options. The 1972 Cyclone package required either the 351-4V or the 429-4V as mandatory engine options.
I attached a photo of a surviving 1972 Montego GT Cyclone.
There’s at least one (red) in the UK,featured in Classic American magazine a few years back.
My first car was a 1970 Cyclone GT, red with a white vinyl top, white interior,351 Cleveland 4 bbl. and 4 speed shift. It was 1974 and I was 17. It was a very sharp looking car and rare, even back then. I almost never saw another one on the street in the very populated area that I lived, Long Island. I remember the instrument package mentioned above that extended over to the passenger seat. That was awesome and was my favorite feature of the car. But like many Fords/Mercurys of that era it was not a reliable car. Always had trouble stating it, the front suspension was horrible (would never stay aligned) and it got 9 mpg with my light foot. It was a beautiful car. Ended up selling it 2 years later and bought a 1972 GTO which was much, much better. I would love to have the Cyclone today as I would have the money to keep it running good. Back then I was making $2 an hour.
I bought this exact same care while home from Vietnam after first year. Left it with my mom/dad as I went back to my second year long tour. This car was perfect. Blew others off the road either on the quarter or the long hall.
Must have missed this when it first ran.
It’s funny, but when I saw this post, even with Paul’s name as the writer, I thought “that looks like a Joseph Dennis photo” before I read the text and realized it was, indeed.
Urf. I have never liked this kind of sunken, dark frontal look—with or without a Bunkie Beak. Ford and Mercury cars of that era didn’t hold a monopoly on it, but to my eye they were some of the least attractive from that angle, for that reason.
It looks like they took an olds toronado, melted it a little, and put a bunkie beak on it. I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in person so nice catch.
Don’t forget Riviera, all the 66 needed was a Bunkie beak with a crosshair insert
Auto stylists have terms for specific characteristics they come up with (one that I recall was the ‘double diamond’ side styling which was more commonly known as the coke-bottle shape), and I wonder what they call that style where the front fender blades jut forward as far as the center of the front bumper. I know that, with Mercury, it was referred to as a ‘W’.
Between these Montegos and the “Bunkie Beak” Thunderbirds I don’t know which “nose” suffered more in the tightly packed, congested curb parking in the French Quarter of New Orleans.