Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Third Gen Torino (or Eight Gen Fairlane)

Hey everybody! Long time, no see. I should really change this to "Car of the Month"...

Today we look at the awesomeness that was the Ford Torino. The Torino was introduced in '68 as a higher trim line of the Fairlane, and had much of the same basic infrastructure as older Fairlanes (unit body construction, RWD, V8 and I6 options, and a fast, fun, but classy look. In 1970, a redesign came not only for the car but also the name. The Torino was the main car while the Fairlane was the subset base trim until it was completely dropped in '71. In '72, champagne fell from the sky, the angels sang, God smiled down from Heaven, and Ford engineers decided to make the Torino a good old body on frame design and threw in a 429 and a top-loader 4-speed with a four-link rear suspension and front and rear sway bars. The ride was smoother than Ron Burgundy's pick-up lines, and the car's looks would stop a blind man in his tracks. If there was a better car on the market in '72, Ford didn't make it, and I don't care.

Clint Eastwood named a movie after a '72 Torino, for Pete's sake!

With the zenith of the Torino being reached in '72, the downward spiral that followed was inevitable. In '73, the first of three major blows to all vehicle designs hit - the 5mph front impact regulation bumpers. This require that all front bumpers should withstand a a 5mph impact without damaging the car. The second blow came in '74 when they decided that the rear bumpers should have a similar guideline. The result was the loss of beautiful, body sculpted bumpers that add to and accent fascia designs. These were replaced by large, rectangular slabs or chrome plated metal mounted on springs with a soft plastic sheet that would crumple and bounce back covering the gaps between the bumpers and the body. Beautiful designs from all American auto companies were replaced with mutated, law-abiding versions. The Torino still had some panache, but it had lost some of its style in the regulation process. Luckily, the TV show Starsky & Hutch helped to add to the relevance of the Torino and immortalize the '74-6 body style in the minds of car, TV, and movie enthusiasts throughout history as the "Big Red Tomato" or the "Zebra 3".

The third blow to the Torino was the gas crisis. Ford had been gradually de-tuning their engines since as early as 1970 to try and make them get better fuel economy, but after the gas crisis of '74, they stopped putting in as many big, pavement pounding V8s and marketed the Torino as more of a personal luxury car. The Torino traded the 429 for the 460 (2-door models only) and lost the 351 Cobra Jet and the 4-speed after '74. In '75, the only remaining engine choices were 2 variations of the 351 2V (with less power than before), the emissions friendly 400 1V, and the 460 2V. No manual transmissions were available after '74. Ultimately, the Torino was cancelled at the end of '76, being replaced by the LTD II with its newer, sleeker, boxy lines.

I realize I don't normally do vehicle histories, but I really like Torino's. Especially because they are like an extension to the Fairlane line, which I also love and I used to own one. Since this took so long, I'll do the short version for how I would build mine, when I get it in the future after I land a job making tons of money.

I used to say, up until about two weeks ago, that I'd buy a '72 formal roof, paint it matte black with sweet rims and a kickin' stance, and redo the chrome in black chrome or powder coated dark grey. Something like this:

But recently I came across a guy who made a simple survivor '74 look drop-dead gorgeous with a simple wash and some nice rims.

So this has got me thinking...
What if I did the same general idea but instead of black, I use a dark, dark, almost black, metallic red with the black chrome (not the powder coating). The American Racing Torque Thrust II's really make this car look awesome. Especially if it's in black chrome. I think I'd get the '74-6 model and install the sleek, classic early '70s interior from the '72 model. Plus the back quarter windows roll down on the '72, and they discontinued that feature in '73 for cost savings. I've also seen one with the '72 front end on the '74 body. an idea that makes me wonder...

The drivetrain would be my usual deal. Stroked V8 (351 Cleavland), manual valve body automatic (I'm not sure which one they put in the late '80s F-250s and bigger, but I'd use that one because it was built to tow, then I'd add a reverse shift pattern), and posi-traction.

Another thought, if I did the black one, I was thinking about doing it with a bare-bones interior and a roll bar giving it a seriously menacing, visceral, and badass feel. The red version would be a bit more classy, so it'd have a full interior complete with sound deadening (for the ladies). This car would be quite nice in either version. It'll be awesome if I ever get it...

1 comment:

  1. I'm happy you used my car (top of page) as a feature on your page. Thanks! I have many more pictures available from my 72 Torino with a 351CJ-4V