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Ford Torino

Published: 28th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Huge and heavy 460ci V8 engine provides plenty of grunt and just loves drinking petrol at a great rate! Huge and heavy 460ci V8 engine provides plenty of grunt and just loves drinking petrol at a great rate!
Memories of Starsky and Hutch Police chases come flooding back with this smoking shot, Memories of Starsky and Hutch Police chases come flooding back with this smoking shot,
Black plastic interior is broken up with wood trim on the dashboard, note automatic transmission column shift Black plastic interior is broken up with wood trim on the dashboard, note automatic transmission column shift
Make sure all that brightwork is in good condition as rechroming is very expensive Make sure all that brightwork is in good condition as rechroming is very expensive
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What is a Ford Torino?

You mean you’ve not heard of Starsky & Hutch and their lurid chase car? That was in later years - the Torino was hailed as ‘Ford’s newest bright idea’ as a replacement name for the highly successful Fairlane series, though base models were still referred to as Fairlanes until 1971 when the name was dropped. Produced between ‘68-’76 the Torino was available as a two-door fastback, four-door sedan, convertible, station wagon, and the Ranchero pick-up of 1968 also used a Torino front end. The fastback bodied Torino coupe was a very stylish car indeed and reasonably large too, at over 17ft long which is two-inches shorter than Dodge’s Charger for comparison.

In the beginning slant-sixes didn’t even enter into the power equation, with the standard engine being the 302ci V8. Torino will perhaps be best remembered as being the familiar transport of Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul, better known as Starsky & Hutch who drove a ‘76 Gran Sport in red with a distinctive white lightening flash down the side in the cult ‘70’s TV series. This eventually lead to numerous ‘lookalikes appearing and nowadays the Starsky & Hutch Torino is still very popular with enthusiasts.

History

Body styling for this fastback coupe remained unchanged for 1968-1969 with the most powerful engine option available being the 428ci Cobra Jet V8 rated at 335bhp which gave an impressive 440lbft torque at 3400rpm. Coupled to a four-speed manual transmission and fitted with heavy duty suspension, the Torino was a pretty mean performer, with an impressive 0-60mph in 5.5 and 14.4 seconds over the quarter mile.

It soon found success on the race tracks, especially with the ‘hottedup’ Talladega, which was very similar to Mercury’s Cyclone Spoiler II that also enjoyed racing success. Named after the 2.66miles Talladega racetrack which opened in 1969 Ford built 754 cars during January and February 1969 to homologate them for NASCAR racing. They went on to clinch 29 Grand National titles and took the 1969 Championship, outperforming Dodge’s Charger 500. Talladegas were only available in Wimbledon White, Royal Maroon and Presidential Blue and all were fitted with the C-6 automatic transmission with column shift. For 1970-1971 the Torino fastback coupe body was restyled which included an ‘eggcrate’ grille complete with vacuum operated hideaway headlamps, rear window louvres, 15” chrome Magnum wheels and high back bucket seats.

A novel feature were the ‘very 70s’ strobe side stripe decals which changed colours under different lighting conditions. Intended to be even more streamlined, the car’s aerodynamic qualities actually took a step backwards and ironically it proved to be slower on the tracks than the previous two years! The Torino Cobra was fitted with the most powerful engine option available, the awesome 429ci V8 rated up to 375bhp, coupled to a four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter. Rear axle ratios were available up to 4.30:1 as was a Power-Lok differential. However, signs of emission regulations, the looming energy crisis and the beginning of the end of huge gas guzzling engines, saw other V8 options detuned and there was even the introduction of a base 250ci V6 engine rated at 145bhp in 1971. The Torino was restyled again for 1972 and had the most distinctive front grille often referred to as ‘fish mouth’. The GT model was superceded by the Gran Torino and there was also a Gran Torino Sport.

While beauty maybe in the eye of the beholder, many folk believed that the Torino had reached its zenith during 1970-1971, and indeed Motor Trend Magazine voted it their’ Car of the Year’ for 1970. A year later in 1973 the frontal aspect received a makeover and in 1974 the last of the breed featured another design change, with the two-door coupe losing its fastback guise for a notchback. By now the Torino had evolved into more of a family car with much less of a sporting image, and gained huge front and rear bumpers. The last year of production was 1976 before the Torino was replaced by the LTD. It had become bigger, heavier and the most powerful 460ci V8 engine produced only a whisker over 200bhp, while the venerable old 351ci Cleveland unit was down to a lowly 154bhp.

Driving

Torinos are big heavy cars – heavier and more wallowy than say a Mustang Mk1 - but driven sensibly will provide driver’s with a fairly pleasurable experience. Throw one into a corner at 60mph and you are going to induce a ship at sea feeling but it’s much crisper than a Mustang II, produced around the same time. Considering their girth, the power steering is extremely light, and the brakes are most efficient. The gear changes from the automatic transmission will be silky smooth too. The Torino in the photos is a lowish mileage factory original car that despite its age drives absolutely perfectly with no aftermarket goodies or ad-ons. If you drive a car and it’s clonking, rattling, wandering, smoking, etc, then it’s probably very tired and in need of some attention.

What to pay

Torinos in the US have been advertised as cheap as $3500, but by the time you have shipped over a car and got it sorted, it may not seem such a good deal. A sound car that may still need work will be in the region of £7000- £8000, in excellent condition expect to part with £10,000 - £15000, with concours examples £15000-£20,000.

What To Look For

  • Rust prone areas on the Torino include boot floors due to the ingress of water via perished rear window rubbers, around the wheel arches, inner wings at the rear, lower doors and sills.
  • Also ensure that the chassis rails are sound and not rotten - it’s a common rot spot. If you are sourcing a car from the USA, then one that has lived in a dry state will be preferable.
  • Inside the bumpers there’s a kind of shock absorber where they bolt on to the body that can be prone to rusting on the outside which can then spread inwards so check here carefully.
  • Rubber body/chassis mounts can also rot and split and these are difficult to obtain and you may have to get them specially made.
  • The running gear is pretty reliable, but due to the huge weight of the engine up front, components like ball joints and coil springs can take a hammering. Many owners choose to fit uprated coils to help eliminate body roll. After market air shocks at the rear are also a popular fitment.
  • Front disc brakes can also take a pounding due to the weight and can be prone to warping, and check carefully to see if the discs are cracked.
  • Standard Torino brakes aren’t bad but many owners fit aftermarket vented cross drilled discs for even greater improved braking performance.
  • While obtaining replacement running gear components shouldn’t pose any problems, it’s things like interior and exterior trim and mouldings that will be harder to find…

 

 

Verdict

The earlier Torinos 1968-1971 will always be more desirable with collectors for their musclecar image and powerful performance, with the limited production Talladega being very sought after due to its rarity, and kudos gained on the racetracks. The sportier Torino GT and Cobra with appealing fastback coupe body styling of 1969-1971 or perhaps the convertible will be at the top of many enthusiasts lists, though the later ‘fish mouth’ grille cars shouldn’t be overlooked if they float your boat, and with the best performance options are still quite lively. Then there’s the Starsky & Hutch Gran Sport of 1975, which has a strong following courtesy of the television series, and if you enjoy making a grand entrance, painted red and white this is definitely the model for you!



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