Mercury has a very rich performance history and is a brand that is often overlooked by muscle car buffs. Few people remember the Mercury Cyclone, a mid-size family sedan that could be ordered with a bevy of performance options, including the infamous 428 Cobra Jet engine.

Bangshift found a true survivor - an original drag car called the "King Komet," owned by Jim Sartori.

Photo courtesy of Bangshift.

The King Komet was originally run by a racer named Greg Steely, primarily at the Atco Raceway in Atco, New Jersey. The unrestored 1968 Cyclone was ordered as a purpose-built drag racer from the factory, and was raced from nearly new condition until Sartori acquired it. The engine was tuned by famous drag racer Al Joniec (who ran a ’68 Mustang Cobra Jet himself). Joniec also managed to mate a C4 torque converter to a heavier-duty C6 transmission, and the car runs so well that it has never been apart.

According to Sartori, the car is dialed in to run consistent 11.90s on the dragstrip at around 117-118mph. Not bad for forty year old technology, is it? The 428 Cobra Jet engine is estimated to have made around 440 ft/lbs of torque and 355 horsepower back in the day, though those numbers are likely a serious underestimation. With a 11.1:1 compression ratio and an aluminum intake off of a police interceptor engine, the engine has seen some modifications from its original 428 - but only to make more power.

Despite the modifications, the car still has its original engine, as well as a 427 camshaft. This is a real survivor - a toss-back to the days of yore - and proof that they just don’t build cars like they used to.

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