There’s a lame saying about old drag cars and how they never die and it is total crap. Old drag cars get bent, wrecked, blown up, burned down, hacked up, and restored to factory condition all the time. That’s why one that survives with the total package of history, coolness, a winning pedigree, and a brighter racing future is special. The King Komet 1968 Mercury Cyclone is so special it’s nearly sublime.
Get the full photo gallery and info on this bad-ass Mercury here, and watch the video below.
This is not some smoke and mirrors “recreation” of an old Stock/Super Stock car. Nope, this is the real McCoy from the paint to the vintage Atco win stickers on the windows. It’s a car that was raced from nearly new condition and continues to be flogged with regularity today by the current owner, Jim Sartori.
Originally it was run by a man named Glenn Steely in the New Jersey area. At some point Steely brought in legendary racer Al Joniec to work over the motor and generally dial the car in. Aside from some minor changes, what you see is the vintage Joniec setup. From the slapper bars made of square tube to the rumbling, shaking, pissed off 428, this car is near perfection on wheels.
Sartori bought the car via Hemmings Motor News before there was an explosion of interest in old suriving drag cars, so he got a great buy for the money. After he had been using the car for a while and people had seen it at the track, Sartori started to learn some stuff from other racers. Seeing that the car had obvious history at Atco, Sartori loaded it up and towed it down with his son for a notalgia event at the historic New Jersey track.
As his then 16-year old son was staging the car, the track manager came down and started knocking on the window. After thinking he was in deep trouble, Sartori was pleased to learn that the manager’s girlfriend’s dad had been carrying a photo of the car around in his wallet for decades. The manager was certain that Sartori’s car was the same car in the photo.
An hour later, Glenn Steely walked up with a photo album. He shared lots of great stories of campaigning the car against all the greats of the day like Sox and Martin, Grumpy Jenkins, and others of that ilk. With the Joniec tuned motor, Steely could hang.
According to Sartori, the Joniec touch was also given to the transmission with the mating of a C4 torque converter to the beefy C6 that’s in this car. The car has worked so well that he’s never had it apart to truly examine the trickery, but like everyting else, it works great. The car run consistent 11.90s in the neighborhood of 117-120 mph on every lap. The big 428 sounds fantastic through the open headers.
Unfortunately, during the day of our shoot, it rained like cats and dogs, so action shots were a no go. The sound of the thumpin’ FE mill winding up in the video should still give you goosebumps though!
Sartori has some other great cars. Click here to see his 10-second, FE-powered 1940 Ford Deluxe coupe.