CCOTY Nomination: 1972 Ford Torino, The Fertile Breeder

Photo by Paul Niedermeyer

One of the many themes seen in the comments for the CCOTY nominees is whether or not the platform of the car led to other developments.  For instance, one concern about the Corvair for 1960 was that nothing succeeded it.  Although we’re just concluding with the 1961 nominee at this writing, I have been pondering possibilities for 1972.

What criteria should or could be used?  Is the definitive nominating factor unique engineering?  Or is it something involving the facilitation of further products?  I was even tempted to nominate a ’72 model I really like.  The possibilities were endless.

The comments were rolling around in my head, and then a great candidate hit me:  What arrived in 1972 that led to the further development of other future products?  After all, if it so led then the engineering must have had a solid foundation.

I hereby nominate the humble 1972 Ford Torino.

The Torino, a car as traditional as babies being born naked, was itself rather forgettable–or perhaps it was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.  As Consumer Guide would write about the ’76 model Torino, “The more buyers learn about the Torino, the more reasons they will have to opt for a Granada.”  The ’72 Torino was nearly as heavy as a Galaxie of a decade earlier, and only porked up further as the 1970s continued.

Just for the record: I’m not a fan of the Torino, despite some of my earliest memories involving my parents’ base model ’73.  I have never owned one, never driven one, and do not have one on my bucket list of cars to eventually own.  However, from a purely analytic standpoint, the Torino stands out.

The Torino was redesigned for 1972.  Sales were brisk at over 496,000 for both model years ’72 and ’73 (total production fell by only 63 units–one good fleet order shy of a tie).  From 1972 through 1976, sales of all Torinos would total 1,916,271, including the 1974-75 Elite.

Of course, there was the Torino’s Mercury Montego clone. It had the same lifespan as the Torino nameplate, during which it would grace the lives of 506,191 buyers.

However, the reason for my nomination is that the 1972 Torino proved itself to be a quite versatile– or moldable–platform.  As the 1970s progressed, the Torino platform would blow through Ford like the intestinal flu.  Think about it:

There was the Elite.  While not as successful or glamorous as the Monte Carlo, Ford still sold 146,475 of them in 1976 alone.

Mercury kept a Cougar of various flavors throughout the ’70s, including this 1974-76 body style.  Ultimately, 238,422 of them graced the highways and byways of North America.

Later came this 1977-79 version of the Cougar, still based on the Torino and seen here as an XR-7 model.

Also available as a base model coupe, sedan, and wagon, the ’77 to ’79 Cougars sold, all told, an amazing 580,245 units.

The 1977 model year is when the Cougar and Thunderbird became joined at the hip.  We all likely  remember the ’77 to ’79 Thunderbird.  As mentioned in other posts (here and here), this generation of Thunderbird was a record breaker, with sales of a whopping 955,032 units.  Once again, this ‘Bird was based on the ’72 Torino.

Lastly in the automotive spectrum, let us not forget the forgettable 1977 to 1979 Ford LTD II.  While the tin worm has rendered many of these dust in the wind, Ford still found 451,342 people ready, willing and able to call one their own.

The oh-so-humble ’72 Torino would also spawn in yet another direction:

The Ranchero for 1972 to 1979.  Chalk up another 222,852 sales for a platform that started life as a ’72 Torino.

If you are keeping tabs, the grand total of Torino-platform sales, in all guises, is 5,016,830.

How many platforms can you name that sired as many derivatives as the ’72 Torino? The Ford Fox platform, introduced later in the ’70s, is a strong challenger.  Chrysler’s K-car platform, introduced in 1981, also is a worthy rival.  Still, considering its 1972 introduction date, the varied uses of the Torino platform are truly remarkable.

To give credit where credit is due, I hereby nominate the Ford Torino as the 1972 Curbside Classic of the Year.  Did anything else in 1972 even come close to being so prolific?

Photo by Paul Niedermeyer