Curbside Classic: 1970 Mercury Montego Coupe – Bunkie Knudsen Pays Tribute To His Former Employer

Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen’s tenure as President of Ford was very short-lived; 19 months in total. He was hired by Henry Ford II from GM to be the President of Ford, bypassing a very disappointed Lee Iacocca. It was never going to work; GM was a remarkably unpolitical organization; more like a chummy club were the executives mostly looked out for each other. Ford was the epitome of political, since everything revolved around HFII’s mercurial temperament and a few key execs who tried to stay in his good graces.

But Bunkie left his imprint at Ford. He was very much oriented to design, as was Iacocca, which only ignited the flames of their enmity for each other. Bunkie would arrive at the design center at seven every morning, earlier than Lee, and demand changes that Lee later in the day would try to counteract. But Bunkie was the boss, and got his way, as is very obvious in this 1970 Montego. It wasn’t exactly very original, though.

What more can I add? Of course it’s not a dead ringer, but that ’67 Olds front end was clearly a major inspiration.

As is the rounded semi-fastback roof, which was of course a GM staple since 1965, and quite unlike the Ford and Mercury roof previously, which were either short and formal or endlessly long fastbacks. How about something in between?

Like this? Again, not a direct copy, but the proportions and general feel is more than a bit familiar. And it works, which is the important thing. Well, from the side in any case.

Its front end is a matter of taste. It’s certainly bold and…long. Thanks to that version of a “Bunkie Beak”, the Montego was now 209.9″.  That makes it the longest Falcon ever; well except in Australia, where the 1976-1977 P6 LTD stretched 2″ further. But it had a longer 121″ wheelbase. The Montego’s is 117″.

In case you were wondering about what I said above about it being the “longest Falcon ever”, yes, underneath a couple of generations of face lifts and body lifts, there is a 1966 Falcon/Fairlane inner body. That’s on full display on the Montego wagon, as from the cowl back, it is essentially unchanged from the 1966 Falcon wagon.


This view from the rear makes that all-too obvious. A compact wagon with full-size length; what a brilliant concept!

Enough with the boring wagons. The hot stuff was called Cyclone, and there were no less than three versions. The just “Cyclone” was plenty warm, what with a standard 429 V8 making 360 hp, and optional versions with 370 and 375 hp on tap, the latter being the 429 Super CJ, with lighter internal parts and lots of other hi-po goodies, all of which added up to…5hp. Well, it was the days of fudging these things to keep the man from getting too worked up over big numbers.

Somewhat curiously, the Cyclone GT was much milder, with a standard 351 2 barrel. The more powerful ones were also available.


And of course the Spoiler, the counterpart to the GTO Judge. It was

The Spoiler came standard with the 370 CJ, with the Super CJ optional. These brochure suggests that the semi-hemi Boss 429, designed to be Ford’s hemi-killer, was also available. It was not, in reality. And it undoubtedly made more than 375hp, in reality. But who’s concerned with reality in 1970?

Let’s get back to our featured car, which initially threw me a little, as it has the hidden headlight front end from the Montego MX Brougham, the sedan version of which I have also encountered and made famous here.

But one quick look into the back seat made it obviously that this was no Brougham, even if that Brougham I wrote up had rather pathetic upholstery and interior trim for a car bearing that regal moniker. No, this is a basic Montego; Falcon-grade, in other words.

And then it hit me: this is an old familiar face, despite being lifted. I found this same car in my early CC days ago, looking rather decrepit, and I wrote it up at the old site within days of ten days ago, on Feb. 27, 2010. A curious coincidence. But then the owner had told me a few years back when I noticed it was gone, that he was having it majorly fixed up.

It’s even got the same wheels still, although with a new coat of paint.

I kind of liked that original purple, but this trendy matte black actually works quite well.

The front compartment sports a couple of unique touches, like this rather tall floor shifter.

And the padded dash has the most severe case of vinyloma I’ve ever seen on the inside of a car. Is it a special effect, created by pouring a mild acid on it? Or? The owner is an artist, so anything is possible.

I rather like the Impala-ish six tail light treatment. And since the base Montego had only a Bel-Airish four, this must have come from the same donor as the front end.

Very 1970. Did all the companies buy this plastic egg crate material from the same supplier? Egg Crates R Us.

I’ve run out of time and things to say, so I’ll leave you with the most memorable element. It’s hard to unsee.