Cyclone Spoiler IIs were originally made to fight the aero wars in NASCAR, where a 500-production run available to the general public was necessary to homologate the cars for racing. In all 503 were said to have been built, all with 351 Windsor engines, C4 automatics, and all painted white with either blue or red accents. What made it such a perfect Bonneville car was the factory aero aids almost hidden from a standard Cyclone. The noses were extended about six-inches and lowered, and a flush grille was added. Ford Torino Talladegas were built in a similar fashion. The front bumpers were modified rear bumpers, V’d in the center, and capped to help aero. Also, the rockers were modified to roll into the frame higher; to cheat the NASCAR rules stating stock ride heights determined minimum racing heights. NASCAR measured at the rockers, so if they are higher the car can be lower, for a lower center of gravity and better aero. Get it?
Rumors over the years have speculated that actually only 351 Cyclone Spoiler IIs were built, and that Mercury assembled “503” Spoiler IIs as verification for NASCAR, with the cars further back of the assemblage actually being standard Wimbleton White Cyclones. Supposedly NASCAR didn’t notice the difference when doing a quick count.
What Michael got when he bought the Merc was a modified Spoiler, set up basically like you see it here. Painted a non-stock black, it also has a 1970 stock block 351ci Cleveland with 4bbl heads and single 750 Holley, hooked to a wide ratio Top Loader 4-speed trans. Out back a 2.75 Detroit Locker rear also got Michael a few steps closer to Bonneville. So the mods and improvements sealed the deal and he drove it home from Torrance, California, with a list of things to fix with every mile driven. Over the last two years of ownership Michael has made substantial small fixes and improvements to ready the car for its salt assault, but the mods made by previous owners proved to be well executed, saving Michael both time and money from his original plan to change out the engine and driveline for something more substantial. He lucked out.
Some ply the salt of Bonneville to build a better mousetrap in any number of classes to break that category’s top speed, and the pride and sense of accomplishment that goes with beating a standing record. But you can also choose to achieve a personal best by picking a speed and then attempting to hit it. No categories, no record breaking attempts, just setting a series of parameters and then pursuing your own private conquest. For Michael that meant driving to Bonneville, hopefully exceeding the 150mph magic mark, and then driving home. Speeds are determined by making a pass on the 2½ mile course, then making a return pass within a certain time, and averaging the two speeds.
Michael’s changes to meet SCTA specs to race the course included a 4-point roll bar, driveshaft loop, V-rated tires, 5-point harness and seat brace, and a handful of other additions. When he put it on a chassis dyno a few other changes were deemed necessary to surpass 150mph at Bonneville. Beehive valve springs with titanium retainers were added, an Edelbrock air-gap intake replaced the single plane manifold, 16-inch rear wheels were added to gain speed, an aluminum driveshaft replaced the clunky original, and many minor changes were made to the Holley. But keep in mind that this car runs a mechanical fuel pump, stock pistons, rods and bottom end. With those changes the Merc ran 168mph simulated on the chassis dyno at 5900rpm.
As for the car’s road manners, it’s been driven thousands of mile to different events including the Aero Warriors event in Talladega, Alabama. It’s tight, squeak free, and surprisingly docile on the open highway and around town. No bump and clang, squeaky urethane suspension, or microwave interior manners. It’s that perfect combo of sitting right, looking and performing well, and 4-speed fun to drive.
After all of the thrashing to prepare it for its maiden runs on the salt the 2015 Bonneville meet was rained out, so the wait began for 2016. When it finally arrived Michael drove the Spoiler 1800 miles to Bonneville. Getting there for Tech Day, he passed tech and the next day ran 154mph on his first pass, with a backup pass of 153mph, making it into the 150MPH Club no problem. This was done with windshield wipers and side mirrors, the tune he drove it to Bonneville with, and a mix of 91 octane gas the car had for the trip to Utah, and some 100 octane gas he picked up on the course. He told us the passes were exhilarating, except for the skating on the salt surface as speeds increased. For that you need some mental and physical restraint. If you don’t back off and don’t over correct, you’re positioned to complete the pass short of breaking a part. Backing off or slowing down induces the car to swap ends. If you turn the steering wheel too much one way or the other to try to correct for the skating, you can also swap ends or lose control. Your best reaction is to stay on the gas, and read the feedback the car gives to determine whether you need to correct steering or just forge ahead. Michael settled in and forged.
When he’s telling the story it seems so simple; just drive your street car to Bonneville from Cincy, go 150mph, and then drive home. Of course we know that any effort like this required plenty of planning, thought, time and money. Still, Michael got into the Cyclone really reasonably, and though he expected he might have to rebuild the engine and do other major mods, it ended up being one of those happy ending stories that greased the skids to fulfilling one of the most improbable dreams a hot rod enthusiast could have. Congrats to Michael and to his murdered out Cyclone Spoiler II.