Classic DREAMCARS Mount Dora, Fla. (352) 385-1945 www.classicdreamcars.com

BEHIND THE WHEEL: BENSON FORD ; CELEBRITY DRIVER OF THE MERCURY CYCLONE "INDY PACE CAR" AT THE INDY 500, 1966

(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

SORRY, THIS BEAUTY JUST SOLD TO HOUSTON, TEXAS

1966 MERCURY CYCLONE GT "INDY PACE CAR" CONVERTIBLE

TALK ABOUT 'LIMITED EDITION'. DUE TO CONFLICTING PRODUCTION FIGURES, THE ONLY THING THAT IS CERTAIN IS THAT MERCURY BUILT 2,158 CYCLONE GT 76H CONVERTIBLE'S AND OF THOSE 100 WERE MADE TO COMMEMORATE THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 ON MEMORIAL DAY, 1966 AND OF THOSE 100, ONLY 33 WERE COMMISSIONED TO BE "PARADE CARS" AND 'SPECIALLY EQUIPPED' FOR THE CELEBRITIES TO DRIVE ( 3 OF THEM RECVD. 427 V8's !**) . ALL OF THE 100 INDY PACE CARS WERE CANDY APPLE RED WITH PARCHMENT BUCKET SEATS AND EACH 'SPECIAL' (A.K.A. "OFFICIAL PACE CAR") CYCLONE GT CONVERTIBLE WAS EQUIPPED WITH THE 390/335 (355) H.P. 4V MOTOR W/ 10.5 TO :01 COMPRESSION / 427 LBS. TORQUE @3,200 RPM ( AVAIL. ONLY IN THE CYCLONE GT COUPE OR CONVERT.) W/ HIGH LIFT CAM, SPECIAL VALVE SPRINGS AND DISTRIBUTOR, LOW RESTRICTION AIR CLEANER, POWER FAN, AND DUAL EXHAUST, HANDLING PACKAGE, POWER DISC BRAKES (INTRODUCED FOR THE FIRST TIME), CHROME "STEEL-STYLED WHEELS", RALLY PAC INSTRUMENT CLUSTER W/ DASH MOUNTED TACH, ENGINE DRESS-UP KIT WITH CHROME ACCENTS (VALVE COVERS, DIPSTICK, AIR CLEANER AND RADIATOR CAP) PLUS, OURS HAS REMOTE DRIVERS DOOR MIRROR CONTROL FORD 'TRAVEL LIGHT', EMERGENCY FLASHERS AND REMOTE TRUNK RELEASE. FOR HIGH SPEED, THE 3:25 DIFFERENTIAL ( ORIG. NO SPIN DECAL #LS124B STILL IN DOOR JAMB) AND THE STURDY AUTOMATIC C-6 TRANSMISSION ( NOT THE C-4). STANDARD EQUIPMENT INCLUDED DUAL EXHAUST, TWIN SCOOP FIBERGLASS HOOD, GT IDENTIFICATION AND GT STRIPES, POWER TOP, POWER ASSIST STEERING, 'WOOD' FACIA CYCLONE GT STEERING WHEEL AND OPTIONAL FIRESTONE WIDE OVAL REDLINE TIRES. THE 'VERY SPECIAL' "MERC-O-MATIC" C-6 HEAVY-DUTY AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION ( ALL PACE CARS WERE AUTOMATICS) COULD BE SHIFTED MANUALLY GEAR-TO-GEAR AND WAS CONSOLE MOUNTED. OUR 38,809 MILE CAR IS A COMPLETE FRAME-OFF WITH A RECENT COLOR SANDING (SINCE PHOTO'S ABOVE) AND NEW SET OF PACE CAR DECALS (IN THE TRUNK) AND IS ONE OF 33 SPECIAL EQUIPPED WITH FRAME-MOUNTED FLAG HOLDERS ( MOTOR TREND 1990 QUOTES: "ONLY TRACK CARS WERE DRILLED THIS WAY"). THE ULTIMATE COLLECTIBLE FOR ANY DIED-IN-THE-WOOL FOMOCO GUY. WE BOUGHT IT OUT OF A LARGE FORD COLLECTION 4 YEARS AGO AND HAVE HAD IT ON DISPLAY IN OUR MUSEUM COLLECTION .OURS IS REAL , (UNLIKE THE THREE WE'VE SEEN ADVERTISED OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS.)......AND IS AN ACTUAL FLAG FRAME PARADE CAR WITH THE PROPER SEQ. # TO INDICATE WHEN & WHERE IT WAS BUILT. COMPLETE W/ ORIG. MANUAL, "SAFETY MAINTENANCE" MANUAL, "ACCESSORIES" BROCHURE, AND "FORD FAMILY" SHOWROOM BROCHURE". THE CYCLONE CONVERTIBLE PACE CAR WAS ACTUALLY NAMED "THE PERFORMANCE CAR OF THE YEAR" BY SUPER STOCK MAGAZINE. $36,950 FIRM

**SOURCE: MERCURY COMET ILLUSTRATED FACTS AND FEATURES MANUAL, COPYRIGHT 1992, FOMOCO- LINCOLN-MERCURY DIVISION, SHOWROOM BROCHURE TITLED" 1966 MERCURY/ MERCURY COMET"

THE STORY:

It was a "Mod Squad" world in the Sixties when women's skirts were fashioned shorter while men's hair got longer. "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" was released on book shelves, followed by an award winning performance by Jack Nicholson in the film version, L.B.J. penned "The Traffic Safety Act", while 'extras' added an incredible 40% to the sticker shock of the average selling price of a typical, new '66 sedan.The Rolling Stones joined the British Invasion by releasing "Satisfaction", Mike Tyson (FIGHTER?) popped out of the ground while Cindy Crawford dropped in from Heaven, Hedy Lamar was arrested for shop lifting eye makeup, Walt Disney, Hedda Hopper and Buster Keaton ( Comedian) all go to 'The Great Silver Screen In The Sky' while America's preoccupation with the Space Race was prevalent in everyone's mind. "Space Mania" became the popular past-time in toys, cereals, and even TV shows ("My Favorite Martian"). Even Ford got on the band wagon by advertising "a small spaceman makes big discoveries about Ford interiors" in their magazine ads (makes one wonder how we survived to make intelligent conversation through such dribble.)

Conflicting information states "100 or 33" but, Ford Motor Company only authorized 100 original "Indianapolis Pace Cars" built for the prestigious Indy 500 in May of 1966. Of these 100, for certain, only 33 were equipped with special "trunk mount flag holders" for parade use. Each and every one of these rare Mercury Cyclone GT 'Pace Cars' found their way to Indianapolis that holiday where, they not only witnessed a cataclysmic 16 car crash as soon as the race began but, Graham Hill taking the checkered flag (which included taking part of the $160,000 in prize money home). These cars were used to transport dignitaries, parade queens and celebrities. In fact, anyone tied into the Indy festivities was carted around in one. Benson Ford even made the parade lap driving one of these cars.

Many auto enthusiasts were surprised that for the first ever time an automobile manufacturer did not capitalize on the event by building hundreds of Indy 'clones' to sell in the showrooms (example Pace Cars: Dodge Royal in 1954 - 701, Chrysler Pacesetter in 1963 - 1,836 , Chevrolet's Corvette in 1978 - 6,501 and Camaro in 1969 - 2,100.) In fact, all 100 were sold piece-meal outside the event and very few ever made an appearance at the showroom. Under the Highway Safety Act ,each Cyclone was equipped with a dual braking system, in the event of brake failure, and a 'crash dome' padded steering column. Although the showroom bred Cyclone may have been Rip Van Winkle on the sales charts, the "Pace Car" Cyclone was no 'sleeper' on the racetrack. Each official pace car was super-tuned to easily cruise at 115 m.p.h. and hit 0-60 in 7 seconds. Don Nicholson went on to make N.H.R.A. drag racing history, driving the first funny car....what else?....a fiberglass Mercury Cyclone. Seen as a lot rare than a GTO.....only 15,970 standard issue GT coupes were sold in 1966 compared to 96,946 GTO's, only 2,158 convertibles were built including the 100 (or 33?) "Pace Cars." Our car has documents, and is now on display in our museum( Indy Decals in Trunk) .$36,950 buys it.