Car Show Classic: 1973 Ford Gran Torino – Self Esteem Issues

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It’s car show season, and a short Saturday trip to Bedford, Indiana led me to the second annual Stone City Rumble car show, sponsored by the Phaetons Car Club (for any those interested, here is a website with a schedule of car shows in Indiana).  Most in attendance registered muscle cars–and I took plenty of pictures of those–but for now, I’ll share one of yesterday morning’s more CC-worthy finds with you.

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When I began taking photos of this car, which I guessed (correctly, it turns out) to be a ’73, the pleasantly surprised owner introduced himself by asking, “You actually like this car?”  I knew, based on what I’ve read about ’70s midsize and fullsize Fords on these pages, that their wallowy nature is often criticized, but I didn’t know they were especially unpopular in the enthusiast circles.  Of course, I told him I appreciated the car and was completely truthful in doing so.  I enjoy muscle cars, but when it comes to domestics, big isolation chambers are generally more my scene.  More importantly, I knew the car’s somewhat obscure status (next to the likes of the Boss Mustangs and Dodge Chargers it was parked next to) would appeal to some of our readers a lot more.

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It was nevertheless surprising that the owners would be so shocked by my fondness for their machine.  I should have mentioned that their appreciation of this sort of car simply means they’re ahead of their time (note the appreciation of ’70s land yachts in Northern Europe, a trend sure to make its way here).

No matter what is said about this car, it’s now an antique and the labor put into its restoration speaks more to a sensitivity toward historical preservation than a desire to impress others, especially given how apparently accustomed the owner has become to the dismissal of his efforts.

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I was also asked whether I wanted to hear the car run and before I could answer, one of the owner’s teenage sons had started and begun revving the engine.  Under the hood, the engine was stock, complete with working A/C, but the exhaust was a different matter.  Indiana has no emissions inspections, at least not in this part of the state, so most of the cars present had their catalysts (which this 1973 never had) removed and replaced with straight pipes.  As delighted as I was by the very loud 351 under the hood, the same could not be said for the wife of the adjacent Mustang’s owner, who was cradling her now-petrified chihuahua.

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The car was found in a barn (you don’t say!) with its left side bashed in.  After fitting a replacement door and welding in a new quarter panel, the vinyl roof was replaced, as was the black carpeting and vinyl front bench.  There are now buckets in front, removing any opportunity for a chummy, nostalgic three-abreast cruising experience.  Perhaps that’s something not too many people miss.

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One thing I neglected to ask was whether any improvements had been made to the suspension.  I was told the car was mostly stock, except for the front buckets and loud dual exhausts, but I’d be interested in knowing how well the Torino’s chassis takes to modifications.  If the cars are as isolated as I’ve been led to believe, perhaps a stiff set-up would be less punishing than something equally aggressive in, say, a Mopar B-body.  Guess I’ll never know.

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At any rate, it’s always nice to see a more workaday model get proper attention.  Every detail of the car was thoroughly attended to, including the finish, which was flawless.  If there’s any truth to what’s been said about these cars here at CC–something seemingly confirmed by the owner’s experience–there can’t be a huge number of 1973 Gran Torinos in this sort of condition.

Related reading: 1973 Torino, 1975 Gran Torino

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