Home Car Stories 20 Years + 1968 MERCURY Cyclone GT- Bill Blackwell
1968 MERCURY Cyclone GT- Bill Blackwell PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 17:49

1968 MERCURY Cyclone GT- Bill Blackwell


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

69 mercury cyclone gt bill logo

Bill Blackwell's story is one that many, many original musclecar owners would love to duplicate. Right now there are a lot of guys scouring the internet trying to locate that special car they sold decades ago.

69 mercury cyclone gt bill emblems

Guys want their cars back. Their first new car from the 1960s haunts their minds because it was also a musclecar. All the 1960s cars were the last of the long low wide crop of cars, the last of the lightly regulated cars (no 5 MPH bumpers or major emissions equipment) and a direct connection back to the days of their youth. Musclecars added a whole extra layer to the appeal. The fact these cars have become collectible means there is a reasonable probability that someone may have restored and saved their old car somewhere. So the hunt continues.

Bill Blackwell is one of the lucky guys who knew where his old musclecar was all along and he was able to get it back.

69 mercury cyclone gt bill front

The story of Bill's Cyclone begins in Vancouver, British Columbia back in 1968 when Bill saw a Competition Orange Cyclone GT in a brochure at a Mercury dealership. The dealership was unable to get the car for him so he returned to his former plan to buy a 1968 AMC AMX equipped with a 390 and 4 speed. Before he could implement the backup plan he saw a 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT painted Competition Orange just like the one from the brochure. It was displayed outside Metro Motors in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.

69 mercury cyclone gt bill hood scoop

Bill instantly traded in his AMC Rebel and bought the Cyclone GT which was equipped with a 390-4 barrel and automatic. The Cyclone was well established by 1968 having a history as long as the fabled Pontiac GTO which is credited with inaugurating the muscle car era.

In mid year 1963 Mercury plunged into performance with a vengeance. The full size Mercury Marauder was a cool fastback stormer. The 1963 1/2 model year Comet had a corresponding performance version named S-22. 1964 saw the return of the Marauder and the creation of a new intermediate sized muscle machine called Comet Cyclone which was created at the same time as the Pontiac GTO.

The Comet in many ways followed the same path the Pontiac Tempest had traveled since its introduction. Both cars debuted as compacts and grew into intermediates. Along with size came engines. In the case of the Tempest the optional GTO package packing 389 cubic inches blew the lid off all the restraint exercised by other domestic manufacturers. Suddenly the musclecar era was born and everyone else was left lacking.

That first Cyclone fell short 100 cubes from the 389 GTO lacked of the banzai acceleration of the big engine GTO but in time monstrous 428 engines would be stuffed into Cyclones at a time when the GTO was restricted to 400 cubes.

Bill was a real estate salesman and the highly visible new Cyclone proved to be a great asset for his sales. Bill put the information about the Century 21 office he owns and operates on the rear glass of the car. The Competition Orange car makes sure that sign gets read frequently!

69 mercury cyclone gt bill pass side

Bill was also attending school in San Francisco, California and juggling that with a girlfriend in Vancouver, BC. The Cyclone GT took him from San Francisco at noon on a Friday arriving in Vancouver around 3 AM Saturday. He left Vancouver around noon on Sunday to make it back to school in San Fran Monday morning. He states that the trip one way averaged 14.5 hours. The distance is about 950 miles which means the Cyclone GT was able to maintain an average speed of 65 MPH including border stops, gas stops and negotiating city streets to and fro the highway. Bill's Cyclone GT was probably pulling 80 MPH steadily on the highway to compensate for the downtime.

68 mercury cyclone gt bill front tire

The Cyclone GT served as Bill's wedding car and his work car until 1973 when it became a second car. Bill switched to a Ford Crown Victoria LTD for his daily real estate duties. In 1980 with the Cyclone seeing minimal use Bill made the move that so many guys regret: he sold his car. A friend of Bill's brother, Chris Murray bought the car for $1,000.00. Bill's situation was different than usual, however. Bill owned the house in Steveston, BC that Chris lived in. so the car didn't vaporize a few years after the sale which is what usually happens in these cases.

69 mercury cyclone gt bill interior

Chris had the engine rebuilt. Another twist occurred in the saga when the transmission failed around 1988. This grounded the car at the Steveston House and prevented it from wearing out completely or getting written off in an accident. Bill watched the car rust away before his eyes where it was parked out in the relentless wet of British Columbia rain. Finally after the car had sat for 10 years be bought it back from Chris in 1998. He stored it until 2000 when W. S. Grover Autobody in Richmond, BC restored it. The car was completed in June, 2013 and  even passed Aircare testing. The odometer currently reads 74,854 miles.

68 mercury cyclone gt bill rear

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 April 2015 21:55 )