Ford’s Lincoln Mercury Division first released its Mercury Comet Cyclone in 1964 and named it after a famously fast Coney Island roller coaster, the Cyclone. The ‘compact’ coupe was powered by a 156kW 289ci V8 with a four-barrel carby, and came with a choice of three- or four-speed manual or Merc-O-Matic auto transmissions.

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Mercury persisted with the 289 V8 for 1965 but for 1966, with the car built on the larger Fairlane chassis, it released the high-performance Comet Cyclone GT with a Holley four-barrel, 250kW 390ci S-Code V8, optional handling package, front disc brakes, a three-speed manual ’box or optional four-speed manual or Merc-O-Matic auto with GT Sport Shift. Also standard were dual exhausts, fibreglass bonnet with fake air scoops and GT badging.

The Merc-O-Matic equipped GT was good for 0-100km/h in 7sec and high 14-second quarter miles and Mercury advertising pronounced that the Comet Cyclone GT “will start a glow in any red-blooded American driver”.

I don’t know if I started glowing when I saw our Tiffany Blue feature car on the floor at The Healey Factory (yes, they do more than Healeys there) but it sure is a good looking jigger. Not that I think many people would recognise it as a Mercury because its stacked headlights echo our ZC and ZD Fairlanes, which were four-doors, of course.

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This is a b-i-g car and it just goes to show how much Americans like ’em large because the 5.15m long, 1570kg Cyclone GT was regarded as an ‘intermediate’-sized vehicle in 1966. Evidently, it was praised by motoring mags at the time for having a big boot and I can vouch for that. I jumped in it and I reckon you could have fitted another four of me in there!

But it’s a beautifully proportioned two-door as only the Yanks can do, with a long bonnet and boot and Coke-bottle hips and there’s also an absence of fussy exterior styling; this car was made for performance driving not for posing in.


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