If you are a fan of Mercury Cougars, you might have heard a few of the late 60's model years referred to as having the Dan Gurney Special Option Package. But who is this Dan Gurney guy and why is he so special to have his own option package?
Pickup any old auto magazine from the 60's and you are bound to see Daniel Gurney's name mentioned a time or two. He was known as a skillful, careful and brilliant driver and considered to be one of the best of his time. He was the first driver to win races in NASCAR, Formula One and Indy Car. He also won the 24 hours of Le Mans with his partner A.J. Foyt.
Gurney got an early interest in the car scene when he was introduced into the hot rod culture in California. By age 19 he built his first car and was soon competing in amateur drag races. In 1959, three years after his first event, he was contracted by Scuderia Ferrari and stayed with the team for one year. He also completed seasons with BRM, Porsche and Lotus.
Gurney teamed up with another popular sports car driver in 1965, Carroll Shelby, and the two had aspirations of building their own American race car to compete with their European counterparts. They teamed up with Goodyear and dubbed themselves the All American Racers. The cars designed by All American Racers were called Grand Prix or Indy Eagles. However, Gurney's focus was more into road racing and winning the Formula One World Championship which turned out to be a successful endeavor. Gurney won the Grand Prix of Belgium in 1967 which was the first victory by an American driver in an American car. To date, no one has duplicated this achievement.
Also in 1967 Dan Gurney signed with Lincoln-Mercury as team manager for the Cougar racing team. His name and image were used to promote the Mercury Cougar in its first years with great success. To make a car a Dan Gurney special, a dealer would install full wheel hubcaps and chrome engine dress up package consisting of valve covers an air cleaner top and oil dip stick. A sticker was placed on the right rear window that read "Dan Gurney Special" or "Dan Gurney Special Motor Trend Car of the Year"
Since 1970, Gurney has been the sole owner, Chairman and CEO of All American Racers. Over his racing career, Gurney has raced in 312 events in 20 countries with 51 different vehicle makes and winning 51 races and finishing on the podium an additional 47 times. So who is Dan Gurney? He is a pioneer of the racing industry and one of the top in his profession.
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