Ford of Canada ’67 Mercury Cyclone

News From The Past

In the news Ford U.S. was building six new era Funny Cars. They were supplied to five U.S. drag racers starting with Don Nicholson, Rupp and Steffy (driven by Eddy Shartman), Kenz and Leslie, Jack Chrisman, Howard Neil and one was given to Ford of Canada (driven by me).

Summer of 1966

Cars-FunnyCarProfile In the summer of 1966 I was approached by John Philipps of Ford of Canada to discuss my drag racing career.  John asked me if I would be interested in driving for Ford of Canada.  I just wanted to go fast and a Funny Car would be perfect.  Now that Ford U.S. had a program within their Mercury division to promote the Mercury Comet in the U.S., Ford of Canada at the same time was promoting the Mercury Cyclone, same body style with the minor changes to the front end and rear end of the car.   Cars-FunnyCarMKIRearFran Hernandez of the U.S. Mercury Division had the idea to change the look of the current altered wheel base Funny Car to an actual manufactured car body look and model to promote the sales of new vehicles. This marked the beginning of the new era of modern Funny Cars.  Ford U.S. had the right idea to build a Funny Car that looked like a passenger car in shape and size but was intended to set new ET and MPH records.  During my early years of drag racing, car manufacturers did not directly sponsor drag racers.  However when the mid-60’s came along, they showed more interest in racers such as Barry Poole,  John Philipps, Linda Pleva, Scott  Wilson, myself and others. Ford of Canada saw the potential for performance car sales and wanted maximum exposure for their vehicles.

Lean and Mean

Cars-FunnyCarMK1The fibreglass bodies weighed approximately 225 lbs.  The chassis were built by Logghe Stamping Company of Michigan with a rugged (1431) chrome moly steel frame which mounts a unique coil spring and shock absorber rear suspension.  In race ready form the complete car weighed in at 1860 lbs.

British Petroleum (B.P.) was my major sponsor for the Mercury Cyclone.  The car was named the B.P. Experimental MK I, white body with a black roof.  This was the first color scheme used in 1967. The cyclone was named the B.P. Experimental MK I for a good reason. B.P. wanted to test their new oils and lubricants to see how well they would handle the wear and tear of a Funny Car’s 1500 HP engine. I am sure that all the testing that was done helped B.P. to formulate products for high performance engines for the street and track.

Summer of 1967 (Ford 427 SOHC Injected Funny Car S/XS)

Cars-FunnyCarPetrieFordThe Mercury Cyclone Funny Car was the first car that I had ever driven with an injected 427 Ford Hemi Engine.  This engine was unique in every way.  It boasted a single overhead cam per head with enough timing chain to make the valve timing very tricky. Cars-FunnyEngineThe car was a ground breaker with its new Flip Top fibreglass light weight body and its Logghe chrome moly chassis.  This combination began a new era of Funny Cars thanks to Ford.  I started off when the car was brand new running mid 9’s and soon after that I had the car hooked up running low 9’s and mid 8 second runs with the injected Hemi.

During my 1967 and 1968 campaigns with Ford of Canada, I was offered a position at Mainway Ford in Toronto.  I was appointed Performance Advisor of Mainway Ford’s racing division.  I was involved with all aspects of Mainway’s Performance programs.  I decided to leave Mainway and compete in drag racing at a professional level. Driving and maintaining the Funny Car was a full time job.


9 Responses to Ford of Canada ’67 Mercury Cyclone

  • Brian Whisman wrote on October 22, 2014 at 12:44 // Reply

    Hi my name is Brian. I live in the US. From reading your web site it sounds like you had a very interesting and fun career. :-) NICE CARS!!! I bought a 1968 Mistang GT not long ago that was exported to Canada. It’s very unique looking and was wondering if the ford dealer you raced for built it like they built the Stallion. It has GTS emblems on it I’m wondering if you would have a knowlage of a car like that being built at that dealership. Thanks for your time and such a great place to see the cars from the past. Brian

  • Basil Moncrief wrote on January 4, 2015 at 12:35 // Reply

    Great website, thanks for sharing your racing experiences. I’m keenly interested in anything having to do with the history of Mercury racing. Please feel free to check my Facebook page on that subject, would love for you to share your knowledge and racing stories with our 2000 or so members. Thanks!
    Basil Moncrief
    1967 Cougar XR-7 GT
    1965 Comet Cyclone

  • vern scholz wrote on February 2, 2015 at 12:30 // Reply

    I was at Shepard when you had a match race with Dale Armstrongs Canuck, and I do have some pix of that day. I remember it as being a close race, Dale won that day

    • wrote on February 2, 2015 at 7:06 // Reply

      Would love to have those pictures.

  • Gary wrote on February 9, 2015 at 2:34 // Reply

    Hi Vern if there is anyway that we could get copys of the pictures you have for the site? That would be great,will give photo credit.

    • vern scholz wrote on March 17, 2015 at 12:00 // Reply

      Sure just drop me a line at my e-mail address.

  • Greg Zyla wrote on March 2, 2015 at 5:19 // Reply

    Nice article John! I’m surprised they didn’t call your Mercury a “Monarch” as that’s what they called Mercurys back in the Fifties and early Sixties that were built in Canada. I didn’t know of your flip top Canadian Comet, so I’m glad I found it online. Good luck.

  • Ray Mcleod (aka stroke) wrote on July 18, 2015 at 12:21 // Reply

    All I can say is WOW! Glad to see your back. I was that snotty nose kid Ray that use to work for you on Poprad. John was a great mentor and was like a second father to me. I still have my shirt that John gave me, after he noticed someone had given me one of Grace’s shirt with the darts in the breast. Hope to get it autographed and tell some stories at Moparfeast. Glad to see you and the team getting the recognition you deserve.

  • Glenn wellspring wrote on August 17, 2015 at 1:12 // Reply

    Good evening John, having been a drag racer and for partsman back in the late sixties and on and having worked with John Phillips in the dying days of the program its good to see you back, I spent an evening ogling your mopar team at the Muntz Centre on Dufferin rd. In Toronto one night back in 1970 and seeing how clean your cars looked inside and out inspired me for many years with my own race cars, your cars were certainly eye openers and it was good of you to take the time to appear and converse with fans,hopefully I get another chance since I missed the Motorama show for 2015, will you be back again for 2016?
    Glenn wellspring

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