We all understand why the 1969 Ford Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II cars were built; it was all about aerodynamics and speed. We have studied the cars and reveled in the stories of their racing exploits. We have read about the drooped noses and special rocker panels and how many races the cars won. We always focus on the special front ends of these cars and how cool it was for the factory boys to build such special machines.
However, what we often forget and overlook are the cars’ overall aerodynamic design. Our focus on the special 1969 cars overshadows the remarkable base cars that were first seen in 1968. It was the “sport back” 1968 Ford Torino and Mercury Cyclone that shook up the NASCAR racing world in 1968. David Pearson won the Championship in 1968 and 1969 with his Ford race cars.
It was the aerodynamic design of these cars that arguably set the way for the Talladega, Spoiler II and the MOPAR Daytona and Superbird. I was recently reminded of this with an email from Mike Callahan. You remember Mike, he is the fellow who drove his Spoiler II to Bonneville and then went 165 mph on the salt and drove home!
Mike reminded me that most people look at the aero Ford/Mercurys and focus on the front ends. However, while he as at Bonneville an experienced Bonneville racer was looking over his Spoiler II and stated that while the front of a car was obviously important, the rear aerodynamics were just as important. As he walked toward the rear of the car, he stopped at the door and looked down the rear roof line and said the rear of the Cyclone was very aero.
If you study the photo provided you can see the rear aerodynamics that help make the car so fast. The wide fender tops and narrowing slope in the trunk area contribute to the improved air flow. Mike says, in some ways it looks like a wide body kit was added. He had never looked at his car from this angle before but now has a much better understanding and appreciation for the overall design and aerodynamics of the Spoiler II.