COAL #16: Dad’s 1969 Ford Torino GT – The (T)-Bird has Flown the Coop

This week, we’ll take a brief interlude from my Art Center reminiscences and get back to the family fleet. Let’s set the way-back machine for the fall of 1968. I had just started my last year of junior high and my father was doing well enough at his job as a compositor for a local weekly newspaper’s printing operation that he began the search for a daily driver to replace the ’64 Thunderbird (which, as I related in COAL #7, had itself replaced our beloved ’64 Galaxie 500).

Since Laurie Ford, our hometown dealership of choice, had closed their doors a few years earlier, Dad was obliged to look further, eventually landing at Jack Gibbons City Ford, on Route 22 in Watchung, New Jersey. The antithesis of small-town Laurie Ford, it was located on a major highway and boasted a huge glass-walled showroom, an even larger used-car lot, and salesmen circling the dealership entrance like piranhas in search of prey.

(Investigating City Ford’s used offerings, we were briefly seduced by a baby-blue ’67 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S fastback with a Super Commando 383 V8, until Dad looked under the hood and decided that perhaps that might make the wrong statement for a conservative middle-aged father of one…)

The former City Ford, now a Liccardi store 55 years later.


Shortly thereafter, we entered the main showroom, where one of the many ’69s on display was a formal-hardtop Torino GT in Royal Maroon with a black vinyl roof and a black bench-seat interior. I tried to persuade Dad that, in my teenage opinion, the Torino’s fastback bodystyle was so much cooler than the hardtop, and he consented to do a brief walk-around of one example, which sat in the showroom diagonally opposite the hardtop. Finally, though, he decided that the fastback “was a young man’s car,” and therefore not for him. So the formal hardtop it was. I contented myself with the fact that gold lower-body accent stripes were part of this car’s GT package. Presumably they passed the “middle-age” test, and you couldn’t see them while driving anyway.

I still would have preferred a GT fastback, or perhaps the Cobra.


I don’t recall how long it took to finalize the deal, nor how much the dealer allowed Dad on the ’64 T-bird; I was too busy examining the rest of the new cars and trucks (including a Bronco) arrayed in the showroom. In any event, the numbers were crunched, and we drove back to Morristown in what would turn out to be Dad’s last new car. The Torino GT started at a base MSRP of $2,865 ($25,924 today). Options, in descending order of price, included SelectShift automatic transmission ($200.85), the small-block 302 V8 ($90.00), power steering ($100.26), the vinyl roof ($90.15), an AM radio ($61.40), and all-vinyl interior trim ($19.48), for an as-equipped total of $3491.91 (about $30,555 now).

A virtual twin to Dad’s Torino GT, except that ours was a 302.  Source:


After the first New Jersey summer on that black vinyl upholstery, Dad wisely decided to add aftermarket air conditioning to the Torino, which was done at an independent garage in Chatham, NJ, which specialized in such work. That made our frequent weekend trips to Mother’s extended family in Long Island much more bearable, especially the stop-and-go portions on the optimistically-named Long Island Expressway.

Dad’s Torino served him faithfully for many years. The 302/SelectShift combo was extremely reliable and stout enough to more than withstand the rigors of his northern-NJ daily commute, as well as our frequent weekend “spins”, mostly traversing the two-lane country roads in northwestern New Jersey or venturing up to New York’s Hudson Valley. After getting my license, it also provided me with some practice drive time (with Dad in the passenger’s seat usually refraining from making raised-voice “suggestions” concerning my behind-the-wheel technique).

An interior identical to Dad’s Torino (except for the steering column-mounted tach). Source:


Dad must have appreciated the Torino’s virtues as well, holding onto it through my high-school and college years and beyond. It was eventually replaced with my first “foreign” car, which I gifted to him when I got the keys to my first company car… but those tales will have to wait for COALs yet to be written.


Related CC reading:

Curbside Classic: 1969 Ford Torino GT – The Intermediate Sports Intermediate