Mercury as a brand existed as part of the Ford Motor Company’s range of manufacturers, whose price was somewhere between the cheaper Ford and the luxury-oriented Lincoln brand. The mid-range maker’s cars had a little more luxury than models like the Mustang and a little less than the opulent Lincoln like the Continental and Premiere.
The Mercury Cyclone was built on the same platform as the Ford Falcon and was larger than the Ford Mustang. The Cyclone first went into production in 1964, it’s a brilliant one classic car, and for five generations it was a true muscle car, unlike the parent company’s Mustang pony car. The fourth generation car arrived on time for 1970 and only lasted a year.
Using the Ford 385 V8 engine, the Cyclone came with an enormous displacement of 7.0 liters and a full 360 hp. Option packages could boost the car’s performance up to 375 hp, making the Cyclone one of the most exciting and often forgotten muscle cars of the era. Entry-level versions of the car were capable of reaching 60 mph in less than 8 seconds. The faster Super CJ429-4V V-8 Super Drag Pak cars are capable of sprinting to sixty in under 5.5 seconds and finishing the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds.
The Gauge Pak gave drivers a taste of the NASCAR legacy of the car–This is what makes the function so special.
What was the Gauge Pak?
Mercury’s Gauge Pak changed the interior of the cabin, although a driver by names like the Special Instrumentation Package may have avoided it. Many Mercury cars come with a beautifully leather-covered dashboard, typically in bold hues to match the car’s flamboyant exterior. These luxury features are continued elsewhere in the cabin, such as floor mats with sewn-in “cyclones”. The Gauge Pak moves away from these luxury roots and leans on the model’s sporting potential.
As standard, the Cyclone came with the standard price of a wide speedometer with horizontally displayed numbers in a font reminiscent of the 1960s. The Gauge Pak gives the driver more information by adding more readings to the right of the normal cluster, just like the boost gauges on many modern turbocharged cars. These dials indicate oil pressure, engine temperature, and battery current. These are not strictly necessary for driving on roads where the car’s full potential is not below the speed limit, but they do reassure the driver that everything is in order. When driving hard on the track, things like oil pressure can drop quickly and engines can overheat. These dials are commonplace on track-based supercars and NASCARs.
Did the cyclone have a racing history?
These indicators face the driver instead of lying flat on the dashboard. This inclination creates a cockpit-like feel before large center consoles were king in automotive design. This package makes the interior of the Mercury higher quality than that of its siblings, such as the Ford Torino. Most notably, the Gauge Pak’s larger tachometer is the closest dial to the driver.
Most Ford models of the time had the tachometer directly under the speedometer, small as an afterthought, after all, in most of these cars, which were equipped with 4-speed automatic transmissions, this was not a problem for most drivers. But the 1970 Cyclone GT had a three-speed manual transmission. A sports-inspired Gauge Pak could be out of place on many cars.
The Cyclone has a sporting reputation, however, with the third generation model taking first and second place in the 1968 Daytona 500 and widespread use in the NASCAR Winston Cup. The Cyclone had a sports package called the Spoiler, which had a more aerodynamic front end and led to the adoption and development of other more aerodynamic NASCAR models. Ford designers have even designed a weird variant of the Spoiler II model as a prototype and for many is an alleged urban myth.
Did other cars have a similar option?
In the 1960s, cars largely spawned the idea of making cars unique as an option for the customer, especially the Mustang, the Mercury range continued this. In 1965, the Comet and Cyclone came with a rally pack option that added circular gauges to the model’s dashboard. This part is sold online and costs $ 1,200.
A look at Cyclone show cars makes it clear that Cyclones with this Gauge Pak are the most sought-after vehicles and that without them they can hardly be distinguished from the Ford siblings. This increased number of displays occurs in other contemporary cars, the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, another NASCAR legend, had four more dials to the right of the speedometer and tachometer. Additionally, the C3 Chevrolet Corvette had what looked more like a modern center console with another plethora of dials.
None of these designs are as unique as the Mercury Gauge Pak, which instead of just putting dials in the tough plastic and finishing it off. The designers spent time implementing it with the design of the car that was tunneled into the dashboard. However, because the ammeter is so far away from the driver and the dashboard is flat rather than curved, this dial can easily be thought of as difficult to see. Decreasing from left to right, along with its importance to the driver, the design is truly ergonomic, functional and a shining example of classic car design.
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