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Paul Katsus is an electric utility service consultant who works for a major Texas electric utility
company. Paul Katsus is not a car collector but does study and enjoys documenting sports cars
and muscle cars. The Mercury Cyclone is one such car. When one thinks of muscle cars from
the late sixties and seventies Mercury is usually not on their radar, but Mercury did contribute
some interesting muscle cars to the era. In 1969, Mercury had a one year production run of the
Cyclone CJ. This mid-sized muscle car was meant to compete with the Plymouth Road Runner
and Dodge GTX. This Mercury Cyclone CJ package included the 428 Cobra Jet engine which
came standard with dual exhausts, a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission and a 3.50:1
rear-axle ratio, along with a Competition Handling Package. The Cyclone offered various
performance axle ratios of up to 4.30:1 which helped to make the car an alternative to some of
the fastest muscle cars of the day.
Car magazines of the time period reported ¼ mile times of less than 14 seconds with speeds of
over 100 MPH with the 428-cu.-in. V-8. The Mercury Cyclone CJ was had the muscle to really
take the competition to the street and compete head to head with the benchmark Hemi models
from Chrysler. Mercury sold just 2,175 CJs in the 1969 model year. In 1969 you could equip a
non-CJ Cyclone with the same go-fast parts as the Cyclone CJ, including the 428 Cobra Jet
engines that the model drew its name from.
Although Ford officially rated the CJ at 335hp and 440-lbs.feet of torque, this number was
generally regarded as underrated for insurance purposes. The Cobra Jet engine featured a high
compression ratio of 10.6:1 and a 735-CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor. In February of 1969,
Mercury began offering the Super Cobra Jet engine option as part of the Drag-Pak, which
included either a 3:91 or 4:30 rear axle. Super Cobra Jet engines were rated at the same 335hp
as the CJ but, just as the Cobra Jet that number was seriously under rated. Many experts at the
time put the more accurate horsepower around the 400 mark. The SCJ came with an uprated
engines oil cooler and stronger crankshaft and connecting rods. Instead of the standard two bolt
mains on the Cobra Jet, the SCJ came with four-bolt mains. . In another indication of the
underrating of horsepower at the time, the performance-enhancing ram-air induction option did
not any gain on the factory's horsepower rating. The ram air option came with cast-aluminum
rocker covers (non-ram air models came with chrome rocker covers), as well as a hood scoop
that forced air into a modified air cleaner with a gasket around the air cleaner. The engine VIN
codes will not tell you if a car had a CJ or SCJ engine, but they would reveal if the car was
equipped with ram air option. The rare ram air-equipped cars got an R code in the VIN number,
while regular CJ 428s had a Q code in the vin number. The Super Cobra Jet option was a rare
option with just 358 1969 Cyclone SCJ’s equipped with the 428 Super Cobra Jet engine. Paul
Katsus would rate the 1969 Cyclone as among one of the most collectable of all Mercury’s.