This crazy COVID 19 really has the car world all turned upside down. About all we can do these days is work on our cars or take them for a drive. No shows, cruise-ins, Concours, or races. I decided to go back and pull up an old story on our Spoiler. I did this approximately 10 years ago for our other web site, LegendaryCollectorCars.com. Let me know if you like this kind of story in the comments below. If you do, I will try to dig up some more cars for stories. Riding Shotgun is about the driving and riding experience of our Ford Aero Cars. What would you like to see in these stories?
This is supposed to be about Riding Shotgun so how does it ride and drive? These are fast cars but they were built with 3.50 open rear ends so they were not intended to be drag racers. However, with the optional SCJ, they could be very competitive. The 428 CJ has lots of torque and the car is responsive at all speeds. These are still 60s vintage cars without overdrive transmissions so you are turning approximately 3,000 RPMs on the highway and that translates to some additional noise in the cockpit. It also means drinking large gulps of high octane gas. Part of what makes old cars so much fun; you are not wrapped in a quiet, comfortable cocoon. You experience the car, you hear the car, you smell the car and you feel the road; you drive the car and you are part of the car.
For our very first Riding Shotgun we pulled out one of our own cars. Katrina and I purchased this 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler Cale Yarborough Special from Iowa’s Gary Baker in the spring of 2005. At the time it was an average quality driver car. Peviously it at set for many years in the back of a body shop after a minor accident. The car sold new out of Marshalltown, Iowa just a few miles from where I had just grauated from college at Iowa State University in Ames. A few years later the car found its way to near Oskaloosa (my hometown). Although I lived near where this car pounded the road back in the day, to the best of my knowledge we never crossed paths until 2005.
Why this Car
Katrina and I had previously acquired a 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II Dan Gurney car a year earlier and had decided we should have one of moth versions. As you know, the Spoiler II has the extended NASCAR nose similar to a Ford Talladega. We were getting tired to trying to explain the differences between a Spoiler and Spoiler II at shows. The solution? Find a Spoiler and park them next to each other at shows! Since Mercury only made two versions of the Spoiler and Spoiler II, one a Dan Gurney and the other a Cale Yarborough we decided that we should look for a Cale version of the Spoiler. The Gurney Spoiler II was a 351 like all other Spoiler IIs so, of course, we wanted the biggest, baddest engine we could in the Spoiler.
I began running nation wide classifieds looking for a 428 CJ Spoiler. In two years of running ads I received only one reply and that was regarding this car. At the time we found the Cale Yarborough Spoiler Katrina and I were living in Southern California. I had a friend in Iowa inspect the car and I agreed on a price with the seller. Then, I made a quick trip back to Iowa, loaded the car on my trailer and headed back to the left coast. The car was a big hit out there. I never did cross paths with another one while we lived there. We did find some other Spoiler IIs and became good friends with Lou and Erin Whitfield and their cars.
Our Cale Yarborough Spoiler is powered by a 428 CJ Ram Air with C6 transmission. This combination was only installed in 22 Cale Yarborough Spoiler cars back in 1969. Our Registry, at the time of this writing, only lists Six R Code (428 CJ Ram Air) Cale cars. Other options on this car include hood pins, red vinyl bench seat, F70x14 white letter tires (now replaced with BFG T/As), hood scoop, Power Steering, Power Disk Brakes, AM radio, tachometer and sport mirrors.
On the Road
The best part of owning a 428 CJ is driving it. Handling with the heavy big block is not as good as with the lighter smaller 351 but is acceptable. When tune up time arrives and you need to change spark plugs you will wish you had the 351. The 428 CJ leaves minimal room between the heads and the inner fenders.
This particular car is equiped with the cruiser C6 automatic transmission, bench seat and power steering. For you young spuds, this was the car for date nights not racing. Bucket seats were not particularly common in that time frame. The bench seat allowed the owner’s best girl sit close to him. The power steering made driving with one hand on the steering wheel and one on his dates shoulder very comfortable. (Ask me how I know.)
The car is smooth and fast. The ride is not harsh but not quiet. If you want to listen to the AM readio and you can find a station you will want to crank the volumn up. As for the air conditioning, it is 4-70; all four windows rolled down and 70 mph. Such luxuries as air, PW, PL and even FM radio were very rare in 1969. These types of options were left to grandpa’s Lincoln.
Today, the radials greatly improve the handleing and traction. When we reinstall the old style polyglass Goodyear tires the car is a handful to drive. I prefer the look of the original tires over the wider more modern radials but when it comes to driving the car, it is the radials for me. I also enjoy switching out the wheels on occassion. As you can see in some of the photos the car often gets a set of American Torque Thrust wheels to ride on.
As in most cars of this era, noise on the road is an issue. But, the exhaust sound is always good. Traction without positraction can be an issue if you have the big block.
Although the car only has a little over 55,000 original miles we did a rotisserie restoration on the car between 2007 and 2008. Even though the car was on a rotisserie we did the restoration for driving and not authenticity or concourse. In other words, we weren’t concerned with everything being as it left the factory but we didn’t want to make significant modifications either; we wanted a solid driver that was a reasonable representation of the car as new. Today, the car drives great and is dependable and does see regular road trips but remains local show worthy.
These cars are interesting but the owners are also part of the experience. In each of our Riding Shotgun Posts we will provide you with a brief video interview of the owner’s words about his or her car. These will be the owner’s own words about what excites that owner about their car. It might be the technical aspects of the machine or the long family history of onwership or maybe it is just the sheer beauty of the car’s lines. Here is my comments about our Cale Yarborough Spoiler.
Car: 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler Cale Yarborough
Condition: Original Restored to be driven; approximately 55,000 original miles
Engine: 428 CJ Ram Air, 335HP
Transmission: C6 automatic
Options: Spoiler Package, Cale Yarborough; F70x14 white letter tires; Ram Air; Power Disc Brakes; Power Steering; Hood Pins; AM Radio; Tinted Glass-Complete; Color Keyed Racing Mirriors; Tachometer
Production: 617 Cale Yarborough Spoilers produced (22 with 428 CJ Ram Air and C6)
Specs: 116″ wheelbase; 207.2″ overall length;
Value (Hagerty Valuation*): Condition: 1=$70,000 / 2=$51,500 / 3=$35,000 / 4=$22,000
*Note: no value is listed for Spoiler only Spoiler II 428 CJ V8; However, no such car exists. The confussion over Spoiler and Spoiler II continues.