FeaturedMercury SpoilerPrototypes

Is it a Prototype?

There is no PS cooler on the car.
There is no PS cooler on the car.

There is far more information available regarding the 1969 Ford Talladega than any of the comparable Mercury Cyclone Spoiler or Spoiler II cars. This is very unfortunate and leaves a lot of gaps in what we know and what we presume regarding the Mercury cars. Having owned both the Fords and Mercurys I can attest that the lack of information on the Mercury cars makes me even more interested in their history than that of the Talladega.

Earlier this year I was contacted by a professional collector car appraiser who had a very difficult job of trying to put a value on a 1969 Cyclone Cale Yarborough Spoiler. This can be a very daunting task in the best of circumstances since there are so few of them around and comparable sales figures are difficult to find. It seems that Cale Yarborough himself had requested the appraisal. He wanted to donate his Cale Yarborough Spoiler to a local museum and needed an appraisal for tax purposes.

Look very closely and you can see some of the Competition Orange under the white paint.Look very closely and you can see some of the Competition Orange under the white paint.

I was requested to help verify the originality of the car and the authenticity of the Spoiler. My first if several phone conversations proved very interesting. Future calls were were just as interesting with one even including a discussion with Cale himself. The appraiser had a fair basic understanding of the Aero Cars as well as the Cale and Dan Specials. However, he was justifiably confused over some of what he was finding on Cale’s car. With just the basic information I was able to discount this car as a real Spoiler. Think about this for a minute. How would you like to tell Cale Yarborough is Cale Yarborugh Spoiler is not real?

Check out this Marti Report and the list price of this Cyclone in 1968 (1969 model). $4,268 was a lot of money back then.
Check out this Marti Report and the list price of this Cyclone in 1968 (1969 model). $4,268 was a lot of money back then.

The appraiser had told me about some orange paint under the red and white Cale colors. He also mentioned that some of the other details on the car were a little funky. I asked about the Marti Report he had and it added some clarity but not without raising some additional concerns. First off, the car in Cale’s possession was scheduled to be built July 4, 1968. It was actually built August 13, 1968 and sold the same day to Ford Marketing in Dearborn, MI. It was the 47th Mercury vehicle scheduled for production at Lorain! In addition it was painted Competition Orange. I have never seen a list of options on a 1969 Cyclone like this one has. Look at this list.

Options:

  1. 428 CJ
  2. Four-Speed Close Ratio Transmission
  3. 4.30 Traction-Lok Differential
  4. Courtesy Lights
  5. Electric Clock
  6. F70x14 Wide Oval Belted Tires
  7. White Sidewall Tires
  8. Ram Air Induction
  9. Power Side Windows
  10. White Knit Vinyl Bucket Seats
  11. Console
  12. Power Front Disc Brakes
  13. Power Steering
  14. AM/FM Radio
  15. Intermittent Windshield Wipers
  16. Rear Seat Speakers
  17. Deluxe Belts/Warning Light
  18. Color Keyed Racing Mirrors
  19. Styled Steel Wheels

What does all this suggest?

I believe it is obvious that this was to be a very special car from the very beginning but these are my conclusions and not fact. Its first life was to be that of a promotional piece. It could have been a magazine car for road tests or a show car for unveiling the new line of 1969 Mercurys. This would likely have been a rather short useful life span of just a couple of months. Then what would happen to it? Sent to a dealer for retail sale or possibly put it into the Corporate Fleet for future use?

Remember, the car was built in mid-August and the Cale Yarborough and Dan Gurney Spoiler production began January 1, 1969. There were production Color Code cars built beginning late summer of 1968.

What if, at this point the folks at Mercury knew they wanted a special tribute production car to honor Cale Yarborough and Dan Gurney? What would they do? Build a prototype of course. Would they pull a new car off the assembly line or simply go out to the Fleet lot and take an existing “used” Cyclone for a test bed? I would like to think the latter would make the most sense. Now let’s take a closer look at Cale’s car based on this premise.

The Cyclone in Cale’s possession looks very much the part of a Cale Yarborough Spoiler but has several deviations from the real deal. Let’s take a look at the differences.

From this angle you can see that the red top and trunk paint has a slightly different location than the production cars.
From this angle you can see that the red top and trunk paint has a slightly different location than the production cars.
The side stripes are obviously completely different in details from the production car. They are also painted on.
The side stripes are obviously completely different in details from the production car. They are also painted on.
It is difficult to tell but the black appears to be a gloss black and not the Competition Black.
It is difficult to tell but the black appears to be a gloss black and not the Competition Black.
It is very difficult to tell for sure in this photo but the rear spoiler/wing appears to be an adjustable Mustang/Cougar unit rather than the special built Spoiler unit.
It is very difficult to tell for sure in this photo but the rear spoiler/wing appears to be an adjustable Mustang/Cougar unit rather than the special built Spoiler unit. That is Cale standing off to the left of the car!
I love the idea of a white bucket seat interior and check out all those PW buttons on the driver's door panel! Also, note the lack of red paint on the quarter panel next to the door opening. On the production cars the red roof and trunk paint also comes up the top of the quarter panel to the door opening.
I love the idea of a white bucket seat interior and check out all those PW buttons on the driver’s door panel! Also, note the lack of red paint on the quarter panel next to the door opening. On the production cars the red roof and trunk paint also comes up the top of the quarter panel to the door opening.

Cale says he is not the original owner of the car. He first saw it when he was picked up for a publicity event and the person who picked him up was driving this car. The owner told him the car was very special and never was supposed to leave Ford’s hands but it some how did. Cale told him if he ever wanted to sell it to call him. Many years later the gentleman did and Cale purchased the car.

Just being owned by Cale Yarborough makes the car special but if it is the Prototype, it is extremely important.

What do you think? Is this just another cheap clone done on a really cool car or was this a Prototype for the Cale Yarborough Special?

Tags

Richard

Some of my first and strongest memories from my childhood relate to cars. I still remember when things happened based on what car I was driving at the time. I grew up and lived in Iowa for nearly 40 years before moving to Southern California and now live in Tennessee. I was a Corvette fanatic for years but then re-discovered vintage American Muscle. My wife, Katrina, and I decided we wanted to focus on unique and rare muscle cars. After a lot of research we fell in love with the Ford Blue Oval Aero Cars. These were only built in 1969 and and aerodynamics became an important part of winning races. The only purpose of these limited production cars was to win NASCAR races using the Boss 429 and 427 power plants complimented with a special, wind cheating, aerodynamic body. The Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II are terrific and historic cars. This site is devoted to these car and their owners past and present. We provide an Online Registry for recording the long term history and ownership of every remaining Talladega, Spoiler and Spoiler II.

Related Articles

8 Comments

  1. Interesting questions. I think I would start by tracing the ownership back to the original owner, and attempting to get more information from that individual (or their next of kin?). I realize that records from Mercury are all but impossible to obtain; but, I think that someone is still out there who knows the story of how these cars came to be created in the first place. Who would that person be?

    Carl.

  2. You certainly seem to have an unusual situation.

    A car owned by the man, himself, that must be either an early clone (most unusual for the time in which it would have been created), or a prototype for the cars that would be later built. At this time there does not appear to be enough evidence to prove either to be true, nor is there enough to discount either from being true, either.

    I’m anxious to find out which version turns out to be correct.

    I’m sure Cale is also anxious to find out the truth on this one.

    Carl.

  3. Richard,

    The more that I think about the task that you were given, the more interesting the problem becomes. If the car is an early clone (an odd thing for someone to have done, as these cars have only recently appreciated much in value and a real one would have been much cheaper to obtain, than would be creating one), I would probably value it well above what an actual Cale would bring, due to its provenance as having been owned by Cale Yarborough.

    However, if this car is truly a (the?) prototype for the later color code cars, and then the actual Cale Spoilers, how would you assign a value? I realize that Cale is looking for documentation that will make the IRS happy; but, how much is the car that led to the Spoiler Cale Yarborough Special worth? To that you would then need to figure what Cale’s ownership of the car does to its value as well.

    Either way, I think you are looking at a very valuable car. The latter situation certainly raises the car’s value considerably in my mind; but, without documentation, you have no way of raising it from a “Cale owned Clone” to a “Cale owned Prototype” status. However, we live in a world where provenance has a huge impact on collector car values.

    Good luck with your mission.

    Carl.

    1. Carl, I agree that the lack of documentation limits and hurts the appraised value of the car. However, I also know that cars with good “stories” will often bring slightly more value. On its own, a 428 Ram Air car with all of these options is a highly desirable car. Now add to that the Cale Yarborough ownership plus the “mystery” of how it became a Cale Special and the potential value is very intriguing. The real value of any car is what someone would be willing to pay for it to park it in their garage.

      How about it guys (and gals) knowing only what you know about the car from this article; would you want to own it and if so how much, theoretically, would you be willing to pay for it? Understand this car IS NOT FOR SALE, it has already been donated to the museum.

  4. I will look at some of my old magazines as I know there were a couple of orange cars given to the press for tests. At first blush I too believe it was a magazine car then returned to Ford and then painted for the Cale promotion. Neat car, what was the appraised value?
    Marty

  5. Ignoring the Cale ownership, and several unique options on this car, NADA places its value at somewhere in the neighborhood of $72K. That is as a Cyclone 428 CJ – no Cale color coding, no prototype status, or Cale ownership provenance – which does exist. The only options I entered for the car were: the 4-speed, the drag pack, and the ram air. This car also has numerous other rare options that also raise its value well into the $100,000 range.

    I would say the car is worth well over $100,000 – even if it is only a clone. As an insurance agent, I would have no problem asking for $100,000 in coverage (and almost certainly getting it) in an agreed upon value classic car policy, even without the Cale ownership impact. However, with the provenance that Cale owned this car for a substantial amount of time, I feel that should have an impact of at least an extra 50% in value.

    I can’t even begin to give it an estimated value, if this car is a (or perhaps, “the”) prototype.

    I’m by no means a professional appraiser; but, in the course of my duties as a State Farm agent, I often have to assign a value and obtain agreement from underwriters from our antique and classic car division. The process I outlined above is how it all begins. Very seldom have I ever been shot down on a vehicles value. Please note that these are all for agreed upon value policies where a subsequent loss will be based upon the values that have been agreed upon prior to coverage going into force. There is no “re-evaluation” of the car’s value after the loss.

  6. One thing the paperwork does indicate is that this car was not born as a Spoiler. The Marty Report and date codes tell that story pretty clearly. Carl mentioned that the financial benefit of cloning a Spoiler back in the day was low but how much really needed to be done here other than the paint job? RIchard pointed out the side stripes were painted on and not the decals used on the production cars, so why not? It could have been owned by someone at the dealership who knew of the Spoilers and had it painted? Any of a hundred different things could have happened. Personally, I like the idea that this was an early company promotion or prototype. The Mercury logo on the rear quarters ought to stand out if this car was used in early magazine ads or articles. The value has got to be pretty good as the car looks relatively unmolested, has great options and oh yeah, owned by Cale Yarborough.
    -Mark

  7. This is very interesting and what this car started life as was a “Introductory Show Unit” . When Ford started to release a new model year in this case 1968 to 1969 they would build a few fully loaded units of each model for press releases, magazine writers to test drive or take to the track and see how they ran. I recall one night on the van line @ Lorain we had a back to back run of vans they were to Introduce the new model year. WE were told they would go to writers for certain magazines thru large volume dealerships…….”Show Unit was printed on the build sheet as Big T was on the Talladega’s ( Note this shows up on Marti Report.)
    As Mr. Burke states there were Orange Cyclones on the cover of a few of the 69 car magazines I think “Cars” was one they took it to a Drag Strip with a Cougar…. I will dig it up.
    Now if it would have been recalled and repainted as a Cale unit the car would have been sold as one. Thus the door tag would have the 2 tone paint code on the door tag and code for the Cale package. This would have to be done for warranty work and thus the Marti report would show this and not Competition Orange.

    So in a way Richard you are on the money ! Cales …..Cale is not a real deal nor a proto type. Willing to bet paint is of a air dried type and not baked as Ford would have done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

Back to top button
Close
Close