My time travels back to 2011 at the Cohort also stopped for this ’72 Montego shot by dave_7, who is of course CC’s Dave Saunders. This is a terrific find, and gives us a chance to soak up some serious 1972 vibes. I’m also getting a lot of Pontiac vibes; did Bunkie Knudsen influence these ’72 intermediates, before he was fired in September of 1969? That would be two years before they appeared; seems like a fair guess, at least to one extent or another.
As to its rear, everything coming out from Ford and Chrysler in terms of sporty coupes were of course influenced by both the 1966 Toronado as well as the ’68 A-Body coupes, especially so the LeMans/GTO.
The “Bunkie Beak” is less pronounced on this car, compared to the Cyclone. This ’72 Mercury and its’ sibling the Gran Torino had well integrated bumpers fore and aft, but the “phoned in” compliance with the ’73 regulations ruined their styling. As one magazine article of the time stated “FOMOCO chromed a railroad tie and attached it to the ends of these cars!” 🙂
It seems to me that the two things stylists were doing to make Mercury stand out from Ford from about the time of the Cougar and through the mid 70s was the nose and the hips. The original Cougar had that fabulous forward thrust in the center of the nose, which grew and grew (in various shapes) in subsequent Mercurys of all kinds. And fat, hippy rear quarters hit in the late 60s and were at their peak around 1971-72 on big Mercs as well as on these. I tended to prefer styling on Fords in this period as it was more crisp than these, which looked blobby.
The front of these is OK (I’ll give it a C+ or B-) but the fat rear is just not my style at all. Of course, everything went downhill when the new bumpers came.
My understanding is that the 72 Torino and Montego basically used a shortened version of the 65 full-size Ford platform, while the previous versions basically used a stretched and widened version of the 60 Falcon platform. I guess Ford wanted its mid-size cars to be more luxurious and refined starting in 1972, with efficiency and spaciousness being a low priority.
I think that’s generally true, the Falcon based intermediates could never match the GM ‘A’ body-on-frame design for ride and NVH control. Ford did come up with a rather curious rear suspension design for the ’72 Torino/Montego. Dubbed ‘STABUL’, it was basically an inversion of GM’s ’64 A body rear suspension. On the Ford design, the lower control arms were the ones mounted on an angle to control axle lateral movement, and the uppers were straight, parallel with the frame rails. I always thought this design may have contributed to the ’72-up Ford intermediate’s wallowy handling as the design required the coil springs to be mounted inward to clear the upper control arms. And with Ford’s emphasis on a smooth ride at the time, those springs were soft.
This platform shared the same basic front suspension design with the 1965-78 full-size Ford platform. The chassis design overall was very similar, but they were unique designs (ie the engine cradles were different, so they used different motor mounts). The rear suspension as Bob mentions was completely different from any other BOF car from the era, but the layout of the arms really does not make it fundamentally different from the traditional layout used by GM. The rear suspension was not the reason for the often stated poor handling of this chassis. The reason was the very low roll center designed into the front suspension.
Ford then used very soft springs and feeble shocks for ultimate road isolation. This was a terrible combination, and resulted in poor control of body roll and a wallowy ride. With appropriately selected stiff springs, this chassis handles well. The low roll center requires a stiffer spring and decently sized sway bar for body roll control. The contemporary tests of the day complained about the base suspension, but complimented the much better heavy-duty (also called Cross Country) and competition suspension options (which was part of the Rallye Equipment option group). I can also speak from experience in tuning this chassis that all it takes is appropriate shocks, springs and sway bars to make it handle very well while still maintaining decent ride quality. It wasn’t a fundamentally flawed design, just poorly executed in base form.
A neighbor had a ’72 stripo Montego sedan that I rode in a couple of times as a young teen. Yellow beige outside and black inside, so it felt like a cave, especially in the back. Enormous hood with no motor, though that could have been his driving style. Owner was a naval architect and grad of both MIT and USNA, so you’d think he’d buy a well-engineered car–or at least an interesting one.
I am with Paul, I think I do see Bunkie’s design influence on the Montego. The Fords most often credited (or debited?) to Knudsen were the Thunderbirds and ’71 Mustangs, but I think it’s almost certain he had at least some influence on vehicles in the Ford styling studios at the time. Designer Larry Shinoda went to Ford with Knudsen so my guess is that particular design language was probably attributable to both of them. Not sure when Shinoda left Ford.
BTW, can you believe Bunkie Knudsen went to White Motors after leaving Ford? Wonder if he had any influence on the styling of the White Road Boss……..
That’s why I think the 1980 Thunderbird/Cougar XR-7, 1980 Lincoln Continental/Mark VI, and 1981 Granada/Cougar were heavily Iacocca influenced. He was fired in the summer of 1978, but the designs for those cars were probably finished by the time or shortly after he left. Iacocca used those same design themes all the way through the early 90’s with the K based Dodge Dynasty and Spirit, Plymouth Acclaim, and Chrysler New Yorker/Fifth Avenue/Imperial.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these, total cognitive dissonance. It’s like seeing an alternate universe Australian Ford.
Momentarily, I was convinced that this was a Torino Sports Roof that somebody had modified with a Montego front clip and bumper.
With a bit of research, this is one of 5,820 Torino Sports Roofs that Ford officially modified with a Montego clip and bumper. A Montego GT.
Not that the Montego was ever a good seller, but the notch coupe outsold this body about 10 to one.
Back to normal….but for America’s brief fling with Australian influenced swimwear…..wait, maybe this is an Australian Ford….
Quite a handsome find (the car) compared to the hunched back green blob! That so-called Torino sports roof maybe American but it has Australia and Mad Max written all over it.
The Montego had its own doors and rear quarters. The front clips don’t interchange with Torino.
The Montego clip interchanges with the 77+ T bird, Cougar, LTD II, and Ranchero.
When I lived in Memphis, I saw the Cyclone GT version of this, in red, of course. The 72-73 Montego sedan and wagon? I think I saw a sedan once.
The styling of this iteration of Montego, and for that matter the Torino, I think is a pretty decent interpretation of a late 60s GM intermediate. However, as Ralph L. noted, the interior of these cars was like a cave. And like the new GM intermediate specialty coupes (Monte Carlo and Grand Prix) the hood was long…of necessity, to make the proportions work.
And yes, I drove one of the Torino sedans a few times, the base suspension was borderline scary on any road that wasn’t flat and straight. Though I would be interested in driving one with the optional heavy duty suspension.
The 1972 Montego GT ‘Cyclone’ is actually quite rare: only 30 examples were known to have been built. In effect, the 1972 Montego GT took the place of the previous Cyclone, and the Cyclone became a high-performance package on the GT for 1972. It came with a 429 CobraJet engine and a host of performance upgrades while the regular Montego GT (like the feature car) came with either a 351 CobraJet engine or a somewhat lower performance 429 than the Cyclone.
It all smacks of what Chrysler was doing over at Plymouth with the 1972-74 Road Runner. The GTX ceased to be a model after 1971, but when the 440 was ordered on the Road Runner, it got GTX/Road Runner emblems, making it a de facto GTX, just like the 1972 Montego GT could still be had as a Cyclone.
The Cyclone was an option package in 1972 and it was available on the Montego GT and the MX. It was essentially very similar to the Torino Rallye equipment option package, with the addition of the ram-air on the Cyclone. Ram Air a separate option for the Torino that was briefly offered but canceled early in the model year.
There was no 429 CJ in 1972, only the lo-po N-code, which was essentially a desmogged 429 Thunderjet. The Cyclone option package required the 351-4V Cobra-jet or the 429-4V engine, just like the Torino Rallye equipment option. The Montego GT was came standard with a 302-2V but could be ordered with a 351-2V, 351-4V, 400-2V or 429-4V. The most powerful engine for civilian Fords in 1972 was the 351-4V.
Thanks for the clarification. I figured if the Cyclone package included a Ram Air 351-4V CJ, Ford would call a Cyclone equipped with Ram Air 429-4V a Cobra Jet, too.
So it was possible to get a 1972 Montego MX Cyclone with a 351CJ and Ram Air? Seems like that would be a rather rare find, today.
Yes, you could get a Montego MX Cyclone. Of the 30 Cyclone cars produced in 1972, 20 were Montego GTs with 429s, 9 were Montego GTs with 351-4Vs and only 1 was an Montego MX with the 351-4V.
My family had a string of three Montegos of this era, including a 1972 two-door. When I we bought the 1972, I remember seeing the Montego GT in the showroom and fell in love with it. However, by the time I was old enough to own a car, these were all rust-buckets and rather rare at that. I lived in the Cleveland metro area in the early 1980’s which had a huge variety of used cars, but I don’t think I ever ran across a Montego GT of this era; I did find several fast back Torinos of this era, but all were pretty ragged out.
Now, with a similar apprehension about obtaining my dream 1967 or 1968 Cougar XR-7, I have a feeling that getting a Montego GT may not be all I’ve imagined it would. But, I will still adore them from afar.
As much as I detested all the bloated mid 70s American cars. this one, with it’s fastback body and integrated bumpers, looks rather nice.
Happy Motoring, Mark