As my 16th birthday approached the desire for me to get a car became much stronger. Many kids seemed to inherit their parent’s old car, but that was never a consideration for me with the Torino. My mom used to joke that’d we’d have to bury my dad in the Torino, because nobody thought he’d ever part with the car. It was just a given, my dad would always have the old Torino. And like many teenaged boys, my interests started to diverge from my dad somewhat.
While I always thought the Torino was a good car, I took a liking to early 1970’s Chevelles, the Torino’s direct competitor. I ended up finding an old beat up 1972 Chevelle 2-door coupe. I purchased it as my first vehicle when I was 15 years old, before I had earned my driver’s licence. The car had a 250 straight six and a Powerglide transmission (sound familiar?), but it needed a ton of work. Of course through my teenaged eyes, there was a gem hidden under that rust. I had a big plan, install a hot small block Chevy, tighten up the suspension and fully restore the Chevelle into one mean street machine. It would obviously be superior to dad’s car; I mean what 15 year old doesn’t know more than their dad? My dad saw that rough old Chevelle, and I am sure he knew then that the car was too far gone to be worth saving, but he never discouraged me.
My 16th birthday came and I got my licence without issue. While I had big ideas on trying to fix up my ’72 Chevelle, it remained on blocks while I was learning to drive on my parents other cars, including the Torino. Dad was pretty strict on driving his cars, but especially so with the Torino. I can hear him now “Watch the pot holes! Easy on the gas! Accelerate gently” and “Plan ahead so you can brake gently”. It was a strict regime, but even a certified Chevelle nut like me had to admit it was a cool ride.
I remember after having a few miles under my belt as a novice driver, we were out on the highway with the Torino. I went to pass a slow moving vehicle and to my surprise Dad told me to “Kick-in the passing gear!” I couldn’t believe my ears? What happened to all these rules? Needless to say I jumped all over the opportunity and hit the gas. The old C6 transmission kicked down to second with nice solid shift, and pushed me back in the seat as the 400 roared up the highway. What a rush!
As the years went on, Dad continued to use the Torino regularly as his summer driver, but he started to use it less and less each year. By the early 2000’s gas prices were on the rise and a 2 ton car carbureted 400 cubic inch V8 wasn’t exactly thrifty on fuel. I had since moved on from my rusted out Chevelle to other cars. I had grown an affinity for fullsize American iron, particularly GM B-bodies and Ford Panthers, which were cheap and plentiful.
Out of the blue, one day in late summer 2003 I got a call from my dad. At this time he only had a single garage, so he’d been storing the Torino at a friend’s garage during winter. He had lost his storage and he wasn’t willing to keep his year round driver, a ’76 Malibu, outside over winter. He had also really gotten really into motorcycles and this resulted in him not having the time to properly look after the Torino anymore. Then he uttered the words I never thought he would say; it was time to part with the Torino.
He wanted it to stay in the family and so he offered it to me first, being the resident car nut in the family. Of course, I accepted instantly, despite the fact I was financially strapped, I had two vehicles, no garage and no place for a third car. None of that mattered, Dad and I would make it work. I was ecstatic, the car I grew up with was going to be mine! In the end, I found out a co-worker had an old barn which he used for old car storage. I checked it out and discovered this so called “barn” was clean enough to eat off the floor. As a bonus, the co-worker was a car nut too and had some nice old cars himself. I secured a spot for the Torino and also ended up making a new friend.
Part of the reason my dad wanted to part ways with the Torino, was it needed some work. He had done an amazing job at preserving it in original condition, but there were some repairs needed to get it back in order. One of the 10+ year old radials had thrown a belt and was no longer safe. Dad decided he wasn’t buying a new set of tires. He wasn’t willing to invest the time or money into the Torino anymore as he’d become fully engulfed in motorcycling. I couldn’t afford a new set of tires off the hop, so I ended up using the spare with the old Goodyear Polyglas bias-ply tire. There is a reason they say not to mix radials with bias-plys. It sure made for a squirrelly ride!
The car was 100% original, other than paint and maintenance items. As time and money allowed, I would do little projects on the car. For the first couple of years, I had no garage and minimal financial means and so I’d only take it out of storage long enough to burn a tank of gas, clean it up and change all the fluids. I didn’t want to ever let it sit more than a year. I did some initial work to the car, like replacing the unsafe tires, I had to free up the distributor which seized in the block, the original starter was getting weak, so I replaced it, and gave it a good tune-up. I ended up cleaning some sloppy repairs made by previous mechanics. It didn’t take much and it was running and looking great again.
A few years after I got the Torino, I bought a new house with a large garage. Since then I always ensured I’d drive the Torino every year for about 6 months of the year. In the winter, I’d usually do a little project on the car which I’d finish by spring time. Many of my projects involved refurbishing and doing some small upgrades on the car. I would try to keep as many of the original parts as possible, but dissemble, clean and reinstall. I never used the car as a daily driver, just my weekend cruiser, driven purely for pleasure.
While I know most people here like cars to be 100% stock, I am not that guy. While I was happy with the car overall, there were things that I wanted to improve and change. I like cars from the 50’, 60’s and 70’s, and I think that the factory did it best when it came to appearances. I like factory colors, factory wheels and factory interiors. That said, I don’t have an issue with someone making subtle upgrades to a vintage car to make them more driveable. Sure, you don’t get the 100% nostalgic feeling, but I am a driver and I like to get maximum driving enjoyment. I also thoroughly enjoy the self-engineering and tuning that goes along with these upgrades.
The first area I tackled was the suspension. After 40 years and 140,000 miles the bushings were shot and the suspension needed to be disassembled and gone over. While the heavy-duty suspension was much better than the soggy base suspension on these cars, and it did handle pretty well for its era, I wanted to make it better. The competition suspension was the top level for these cars, and I wanted to try and emulated that setup.
I completely disassembled the front and rear suspensions, I cleaned up and powder coated all the parts and I installed stiffer springs, Bilstien monotube shocks and larger sway bars. I wasn’t able to match the competition spring rates perfectly, as the aftermarket only make a small portion of springs compared to what the factory offered (this is the case for most cars). I found that late model Crown Victoria Police spec springs weren’t far off and installed those in the front. I selected a rear sway bar and rear spring to properly match the front springs.
Ford also used two different steering boxes in these 1970’s Torinos, one a Ford built box and one a Saginaw built box. Ford boxes basically cannot be modified, while Saginaw boxes are done so easily. My car had a Ford steering box but ended up replacing it with a Saginaw box from a 1971 Mustang. I had the box rebuilt with quick ratio high effort internals for quicker steering with road feel comparable to a 1980’s GM performance steering box.
I also detailed some of the chassis, brakes and the rear axle. The “Ming” rust proofing my dad had applied to the car when new certainly worked. There wasn’t a trace of rust anywhere on the undercarriage or body, which still sports the all original sheetmetal. I upgraded to larger 15×8″ Magnum 500 wheels over the factory 14×7″ wheels. Not only do I think they look better, they also improved the grip. In the end the handling was significantly improved, better than any of the 1972 factory setups, and as good as or better than a late model Crown Victoria P71 Police car.
I have also done a few other things over the years including, installing a quartz conversion for the clock and upgraded the original radio with modern internals and a hidden a/v jack for a phone or mp3 player. I completely removed the interior and refurbished the original upholstery carpet and other interior parts, and I also installed modern insulation. I have done lot of other minor detail work like refurbishing emblems, and repainting the grille the correct colour (it was blacked-out by my dad in the 70’s).
I did a few more minor modifications to the engine, installing an Edelbrock intake with a Holley 4-bbl carb, an electronic ignition to replace the points, tuned the distributor and added aftermarket performance mufflers. The 4-bbl carb really allowed the 400 to breathe much better at higher RPM. I am sure there are other things I am forgetting, but you get the idea. My goal with this car is to keep it as stock appearing as possible with some subtle upgrades to improve performance and driveability.
My next big project will be to rebuild the engine. With about 150,000 miles on the engine it still runs well, but I’d like to go through it, freshen it up and do some tweaking. First off I want to install new pistons to bump up the compression to about 9.5:1. I also plan to install stainless steel valves, do some oil system upgrades, a roller cam with a modern profile and roller rockers for increase durability and performance. I am going to keep the stock heads, which actually flow very well, and want the engine compartment to appear 100% stock under the hood. This includes using the stock breather, and keeping the engine painted Ford blue like the factory did it. In the end my goal is an engine that will be durable, efficient, and have increased performance, but no longer saddled with 1970’s de-smogging technology.
Like my father before me, the Torino has become an integral part of my family’s life. My oldest child is also a son and even before he could talk, he’s loved cars. Even as young as two years old he could name classic cars and could spot a Torino on sight. And much like when I was a child, he likes to come out in the garage and help dad fix the cars, especially the Torino. It’s kind of neat to be able to have a car that I rode around in through my childhood and both of my kids are doing the same today. I hope as my son grows older despite our differences that may crop up, we will have the Torino that we can always bond over.
I have had a lot of changes occur to me throughout my life, some good some bad, but it’s been kind of reassuring to have at least one constant throughout my life. This old car sure has helped to keep me grounded on several occasions especially when I hit some major bumps in life. Without question, one of the bigger life events we went through occurred in 2009 when our home and garage burned to the ground. We lost literally everything, our home, all of our possessions and my old Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser. I literally walked away with my truck and the clothes on my back.
But through the grace of good fortune, I had been storing my Torino at my brother’s place for the past few winters before the fire. We had made a deal that I could store my Torino in his garage in return for him using my heated garage and tools for vehicle maintenance. My brother, a friend and I went into the wreckage of our home to try and pull out any surviving items, and only ended up with a box full of things. While I lost all of my spare parts and some original parts for the Torino, by a miracle of all miracles, all of the original paper work for the Torino survived the fire. How paper of all things didn’t burn in that fire, I will never know.
Despite this tragedy, there are countless other good memories wrapped up in the Torino. This was the car I got to cruise with my siblings and friends when I was young, it was there when I dated my wife, it was our wedding car and of course it carried my own children since they were born. My paternal grandfather and grandmother have long since passed away and I have also lost my mom. Somehow though, cruising around in the Torino, in the same car with the same upholstery where they sat, it is kind of reassuring that maybe a part of them is still in that car. To me it’s amazing the memories that can be incited by the feel and smell of an inanimate object.
My old ’72 Torino will never be a blue chip collector car, and will always live in the shadows of many other cars from this era. However, it is the sentimentality that is wrapped in this machine that will makes it priceless to me. No other car that exists has that value for me. It will always have special place in our family and will forever be tribute to my dad. It’s a car that has touched four generations in my family and will be a part of our family for many years to come. Every car has a story and this is my car’s story.
Curbside Restoration: My Torino Engine, Transmission and Engine Compartment Project
I am not a Ford guy, but this model Torino looks better then anything GM made in that era.
Great car and even better story.
What a great story, Vince. And what an amazing generational bond that Torino has proved to be. I don’t think I will ever think of the 72 Torino in the same way now that I have read your story.
Wonderful story Vince. You show how a car can be such an anchor, and a valued part of our lives. I especially appreciate your humility, and genuine decency in all your writing. I wish you many more years of pleasure in life, and with your amazing Torino.
Your dad made a great choice with the white interior, it doesn’t appear claustrophobic at all, as was common with various Fords of that era. You’ve done a truly superlative job maintaining this treasure.
A truly terrific story – except the part about your house.
Also having a car that has served four generations of family, you are spot on about the smells and sensations bringing back many lost memories. You were fortunate to have ridden much more in your Torino that what I experienced with mine, and you are also very blessed to have your children take an interest in the Torino.
From what you are doing with the Torino, it should have no problem lasting another 40-odd years before it needs much again. And you’ve shed a different light on the Torino.
Wow, that’s a real labor of love. I know what you mean about that family connection. My semi-daily driver is my mom’s old car, and I can’t imagine ever selling it.
Vince, great two-part story. Thank you. Your closing paragraph about this Torino being priceless for the reasons you cited resonated hard. You’re a great writer.
Very moving story. Thank you for sharing it with us all; it’s CC at its best.
Coming from a family where there always was/is a certain generational tension between the fathers and sons, and there certainly wasn’t/isn’t any shared automotive passions, I read this somewhat wistfully.
You’ve worked hard at creating this beautiful family heirloom. And I totally am with you about the improvements you’ve made; this is a car to be driven, not just looked at. And like some of the others, you’ve engendered a whole new level of appreciation for the Torino,
Just want to second what Paul said.
You took the road less traveled and now have a beautiful and decidedly different ride. Kudos for tweaking underneath to make it the kind of driver one can enjoy.
Good for you!
Great story. My car experiences with my Dad were memorable and luckily my Son and I have shared many experiences to remember. Happy Father’s Day!
Some people say cars are just inanimate objects. I’ve never fully believed that and your Torino proves that.
It has become the gatekeeper to your past, your present and your future.
You are a very lucky man Vince.
Amazing! A fire is a catastrophic event at any time, at least the Torino was elsewhere. The modifications sound just right and mimic what I did with the 400 in my ’73 Galaxie. You’ll be happy with the performance, after I did those, I remember pulling a fully loaded 6×12′ trailer at 90 and still having power left (It was on I-40 in New Mexico and I was keeping up with traffic). I got 16 on trips with it. It would spin the tires even with the highway geared rear end.
Great piece for Father’s Day! So glad that your son is just as passionate about cars and that the Torino will continue to be a treasured family heirloom.
So sorry about the fire, but so glad the Torino wasn’t there and that its paperwork somehow survived unscathed.
This Torino is the very definition of priceless!
Great write-up and awesome story, and great to have a car with a family history like that. Brings up a lot of memories and thoughts.
I have a ’52 MG TD with strong family ties, and a connection that’s hard to put into words.
And my second car was a ’72 Ford Gran Torino. Mine was a very good car, getting me through my college years with no problems (although I remember an interesting Ford recall to replace a flex-fan and broken radiator fan shroud). It had a 351 V8 and was surprisingly quick for the times. I only have a few photos of it, and wished I had taken more, but here’s one.
Nice Torino! I’d guess that it was likely a Q-code, 351-4V car, and not a H-code 351-2V based on your description? The Q-code cars weren’t super cars by any stretch, but they ran very strong for 1972, and performed as well as a lot of 1972 big block cars.
My older cousin had a 72 in the same color combo as his first car. It was interesting because his older brothers had picked a Camaro and Cougar. Of course I was pretty young at the time so I had no clue as to what they had for power plants, though knowing my aunt and uncle it was unlikely they had the higher HP engine options.
‘I like cars from the 50’, 60’s and 70’s, and I think that the factory did it best when it came to appearances. I like factory colors, factory wheels and factory interiors. That said, I don’t have an issue with someone making subtle upgrades to a vintage car to make them more driveable.’
I’m on the same page. I got no truck with cars as an investment class, but not in my ownership. Great read, yet again.
Wouldn’t say I like Torinos//Gran Torinos from this era that much more in general. Wasn’t impressed at all by Ford (North America) in the early to mid 70s. However, I would say that Vince and his family have singularly greatly elevated its status. My family owned two Fords from this era. Unlike Vince’s car, they were regularly exposed to Ontario winters. Not surprisingly both cars, a ’74 Maverick and a ’69 Ford wagon, succumbed to premature invasive rust.
This is a testament to the passion and commitment of Vince and his dad. And Vince’s commitment to his father. While this Torino is the very fortunate benefactor. Thankfully, Vince’s dad chose one of the best of the breed.
In 2011, Hot Wheels paid homage to this car with a die cast edition. The casting isn’t bad at all. Though using the same plastic for the chrome grill/bumpers to complete the interior was unfortunate.
Thanks for the kind words Daniel. I actually have that exact Hot Wheels car. I bought it some time ago, when I came across it in a little old fashion department store near our family cottage. Kind of neat to have a Hot Wheels like your own car. My son has a big hot wheels collection, which includes a couple ’72 Torino as well as several other’s from the previous generations.
Thank you Vince for sharing your story, and your wealth of knowledge. You are a big addition to Paul’s site. Whether writing or commenting, I’ve enjoyed all your stories. Even if folks don’t comment, it doesn’t mean your contributions aren’t highly appreciated. Sometimes, it’s because we have so little exposure to certain vehicles, like the Ford Indy replica pickups. They were so rare in Eastern Ontario (Kingston/Ottawa), when I was growing up. I actually thought it was an owner who created the graphics. As the advertising in Canada was so limited as well. I recall seeing perhaps one or two at the time. Canada’s car market is so small compared to the US, especially for special packages, it is a treat seeing these rare models you highlighted.
I still have all those 1970s Ford of Canada commercials ingrained in my memory, as shown on Hockey Night in Canada for years. Almost all of them hosted by Dave Devall of course.
I bought two of the ‘Ivy Glow’ Torinos in 2011. I never could find a red one in stores at the time.
I never liked Torinos.
Then I saw “Gran Torino” and thought hmm, they might be okay.
Now after reading these stories my opinion has fully turned, these cars are pretty cool.
Great, great story! In a modern world where everything is a disposable appliance your family Torino is an inspiration.
Updating the suspension and engine is okay by me. Throwing disc brakes on all four wheels would be worthwhile, those old drums suck. I’m not a factory stock purist, 5 inch wide bias ply tires with drum brakes is best left in the distant past with the dinosaurs.
Thanks so much for sharing your story.
Actually all ’72 up Torinos had manual front disc brakes standard.
The power assist was an option, but it was required on anything bigger than a 302, making them a defacto standard.
One minor point. The manual discs were standard, but the power option was only mandatory on wagons with the 302 or bigger engine. Squires came standard with a 302 and power brakes. If you ordered a 429 in any Torino, power brakes were mandatory. I have seen a few ’72s without power brakes, including a Q-code car.
Thanks to all for the great comments, I am really flattered. I spoke with my dad and he was very surprised and pleased with this article.
I am also glad that some people now look at these cars in a different light. I always thought that these cars got an unfair rap. There was quite a large variation of the Torino’s and other Ford midsized cars produced on this platform, so I think it’s unfair to paint them all with the same brush.
You’re welcome and thanks for sharing that Gran Torino story. I could imagine that Gran Torino riding on Lake Shore Road in the Grosse-Pointe area of Detroit with the Gran Torino song from Clint Eastwood and Jamie Cullum just like the green Gran Torino from that movie because “it beats a lonely rhythm all night long”.
This is a Gran Torino than I won’t let Starsky & Hutch driving it.
I’m glad your dad appreciated the articles — I am truly amazed by his dedication and perseverance to keeping the Torino in good shape through all those winters, particularly through the years when the car was still in the “used car” stage, before it graduated to being a classic.
Through reading both articles, I couldn’t help thinking of my own dad’s car from the early 1970s, which was an Oldsmobile Rallye 350. When new, he thought he’d keep it forever. That lasted for 6 years, and then he sold it. Dad has lots of very good qualities — but keeping cars for a long time certainly isn’t one of them!
Congratulations to you both for a job well done in preserving this very lucky Torino.
Great to read the conclusion to the story, especially the car’s narrow escape!
I’ve seen a couple of these locally (Melbourne Australia), recent imports I expect, so you might be surprised how they are appreciated now, especially a fantastic survivor car like yours.
Bravo to your father and you in preserving a great looking Torino. The 72 Gran Torino is one of my favorite models. Very few of these models have survived over the years so seeing one at a car show is a real treat.
Great story, I’ve always had an appreciation for the 72 Torino and even it’s more widely panned successors and spinoffs. Even the big bumper cars looked good to me, the 73s being the exception because of the overly blunt front end(remedied with a pointed grille and bumper for 74) and unbalanced look of the big front and little rear bumpers, but I digress. Keeping a car like this as long as your Dad did is impressive, and keeping it this clean is pure amazing, his and your passion for what is truly the ultimate family heirloom is inspirational.
I have no problem with the improvements, in fact I prefer them. I can certainly appreciate the cork sniffer concourse restorations with the numbers matching and factory chalk marks and everything, but it’s not something I see myself ever desiring in a car I’d actually own. Afterall, factory correct is the reason so many old cars succumbed to rust, suffered mechanical maladies, and not to mention handling and braking deficiencies that no doubt helped total out many examples. So many of these things can be perminantly fixed without changing the aesthetics.
I’ve always been curious, just how much does this chassis have in common with the early Panther? Suspension similarities, frame dimensions etc.? I’ve heard a lot of conflicting opinions on it and unfortunately these cars I’ve never had the chance to look at in depth to see with my own eyes what’s familiar or not.
I’m not a true expert, and Vince may correct me, but my understanding of this chassis is that it is very closely related to the full-size Ford chassis. As in quite similar, in a number of ways, and possibly even sharing number of suspension parts.
Which rather makes sense, given its role to underpin large and heavy cars like the Mark V, and the LTD II and such.
It would certainly be more cost efficient than to design and build a very unique new frame design and suspension. And frankly, US BOF chassis design hit something of an evolutionary peak about this time. GM’s 1973 Colonnade frame and chassis would be recycled with only a few minor tweaks until the very end of GM BOF cars.
As I said, this is what I remember picking up from various comments and such over the years, and not from an in-depth study, so I may be off-base. But it rather makes sense.
Like the 77 B-body and the Colonnade A-bodies relationship, the 1979 Panther frame was an evolution of the Torino frame. Bot the GM and Ford’s have significant differences between the platforms, but are fundamentally the same. Both Ford Chassis’ are dimensionally very similar and use very similar construction and frame members. The biggest difference is in 1979 Ford finally dropped the single point lower control arm with strut rod and went to a dual point lower arm. They also revised the rear four link, abandoning the stabul layout and adopting a more traditional layout for the upper and lower arms. Both of the rear suspension setups are triangulated 4-link setups and despite the different arm layout function the same. There were some interchangeable parts from the suspensions, such as shocks and springs.
Overall the dimensions on the Panther frames and the 2-door Torino frames are very close. The biggest difference is the frame ends, basically the overhang portion from and rear of the cars. There have been numerous attempts to graft older Torino bodys on CV frames, but I have yet to see a successful completion. This is the same though for a Colonnade vs a B-body. While very close dimensions, it would take some significant modification to swap body to chassis.
Here is a ’72 Torino on a late model CVPI chassis. From what I read about this swap in progress the Torino body fit very well to the CVPI chassis. This builder also used CVPI floor pans and he claimed they were within 1/16″ of the Torino fitting the Torino body. As you’ll see though, the frame ends on the front and rear of the car are significantly different and would have to be modified to work with the older body.
Neat! As Paul noted this has been discussed in comments about both these and Collonades over the years, but the specifics were rarely discussed in detail. I’m no fabricator so that level of project is out of my league but it seems like the frame ends would be quick work in the hands of a professional, and as an almost owner of a terminally rusted 74 Cougar it’s bittersweet knowing I could have maybe made it into something from the hundreds of Panthers at the Junkyards.
Great story, and well done on the preservation plan.
I like your licence plate format too 🙂
Great stories Vince, and very well written! Like many others I haven’t paid much attention to 70s Ford intermediates, but the history and care this one has seen makes it a one of a kind. Great family heirloom!
Kudos to you and your dad for keeping that car in such condition. (I can’t help but wonder if someone at Ford had the 1968-70 AMX in their head when this was designed!) I too have a car that I’ve kept for 20 years because it suits my needs and I just plain LIKE it. Just as yours, it was a volume model never intended to go this long, and parts can be hard to find sometimes – but that’s the fun of keeping it going! Mine will never be collectible, either, but I don’t care. It’s rather neat driving something I suspect few other people own any longer, let alone drive every day. (I’m in south Florida, no winter worries.)
I hope you and your family get another 45 years out of it. Great work, and great article!
Thank you for sharing, you make your Father proud .
I wish I’d had the relationship with my Father that you have with yours .
Nice to see a Torino being saved and cherished, they’re mostly gone here in Cali. now .
This second part of your story is really touching. Excellent writing, Vince.
I’ll say it again… BEST… TORINO… EVER!
I like what you did when you upgraded (up-sized) the wheels for this car. At a glance, the rims that you chose look very close to the originals, while making the car look (and I am sure handle) better. I agree with some of the posters above that upgrades to make the car drive-able in the modern era are a must. I get the whole ‘purist’ thing, and have even always left my own cars stock (with a few minor exceptions). But if not keeping it ‘all original’ saves it from an accident, then that is best. AND you can actually enjoy DRIVING the car, rather than using a trailer to go to places to show it.
If I had an old classic like this, I’d put modern fuel injection and electronic ignition on it immediately. My first three cars were carbureted, and the very first car had points and stuff. Once I had EFI, reliability was leaps and bounds better. Sure, it may be considered a resto-mod, but if my Mustang was a 1967 instead of a 2007, it would have a reliable 5.0L with EFI like the one I had in my ’88 T-Bird… or something even newer!
Thanks again Rick! I have thought about FI, and it is very temping with some of these bolt on throttle body setups that almost look like a carb. However, I don’t think I’d go that route. I really enjoy carburetor tuning, and it’s becoming somewhat of a lost art. I used to be pretty good at tuning Q-jets when I had GM cars in the past. They used to run so well when dialed in just right.
was the distributor seizing in the block a “thing” with the Cleveland engines? the distributor in my dad’s ’73 Cougar did the same thing.
Great car and great story! I saw a very similar Torino at Motor Muster yesterday (attendance must have been down by over 50%, by the way, due to some new entry rules). For a second, I thought it was yours, as it had a Quebec front plate (I had forgotten what province you hailed from), but it had a Michigan rear plate. Neat cars, both.
Great story, thanks for sharing. Very glad to see the Torino survived the fire, but sad for your other possessions, especially the Custom Cruiser. Could you share any pictures or details on that car?
Thanks for the kind words. The fire was devastating and the reason why I don’t have many childhood photos anymore (among other things). I was very luck the Torino wasn’t there, but more importantly that no one was home at time of the fire.
My Custom Cruiser was originally purchased by a funeral home and used as a flower car for three years. I found it on a used car lot when helping my mother find a car She’d driving wagons for years and wanted another. Shortly after she bought it, I ended up buying it off of her because I liked it so much. It was a fully loaded car, with every option except for woodgrain, the load levelling suspension, trailer tow package and the limited slip differential. This was the such the opposite of our former wagons which were all strippers. This Custom Cruiser was one of the few B-bodies I have ever seen with a power driver and passengers seat and a manual recline on both driver and passenger seat.
It served as my daily driver for many years. This car was a great long distance hauler and I enjoyed it on highway trips except for the anemic 307. I did a few minor modifications to help improve performance but it was still painfully slow. I ended up buying a 403 out of a ’78 Firebird. I had it sitting on my engine stand in the garage when the house burnt down. It had a mild 204/214 cam and a 4-bbl Edelbrock intake, which I though would have been a great combo for the heavy wagon.
Here it is before the fire:
Jesus wept .
Great story and car. The memories of people no longer with us who rode in the 30 year old Jetta (parents, sister and a couple of close friends) runs deep in my old car as well, and is probably one of the main reasons I keep it on the road.
Was looking forward to part 2, turns out to be the best part.
Great story and cool car. The ’72 is my favorite Torino; BOF, attractive interior, and clean pre fed bumper car.
Thank you for a great story. Your Torino unlike it’s successor is beautiful.
What an interesting and touching story. Well written and illustrated. I like the way you’ve upgraded some of the parts while keeping the original appearance. Really sorry to hear about the house fire.
Great read! But I need a postscript. How in the world did THE Torino guy end up in a 76 Malibu for 30 years? Before anyone jumps me, I’m not disrespecting colonnades.
My dad and most of the car people in my family, are not particularly brand loyal. While I know a lot of guys are die hard Ford, Chevy or Mopar people, we’ve never had a problem appreciating cars from any make. So even though he liked the Torino, he had no issues with buying a Chevy.
After my parents divorced, my dad needed a family oriented family daily driver as he moved to another town for his job. He was actually looking at B-Bodies and Ford Panther’s, but then we came across this Malibu in the classifieds. It was super low mileage, had never been winter driven and literally like a new car. The price was cheap because it was just a used gas guzzler from the 70’s. So he made a deal and bought the car. It proved to be one of the most reliable cars anyone in our family has every owned. He did drive it year round, but had it oil sprayed rust proofed twice a year, kept it in a garage and kept washed. This kept it rust free, but it was a lot of maintenance as those cars were very prone to rust. He also had a trailer hitch on the car, and it was used to tow his boat and his motorcycles.
The car was a very good driver overall, although the base suspension was a on the floaty side. The 350 was not super powerful, but very smooth and it knocked down low 20 MPG’s on the highway regularly. My brother now owns the car. I updated the suspension for him in a similar fashion that I did for the Torino. It has stiffer springs, bigger sway bars and Bilstien shocks. IMO it rides better than it did with stock suspension, and handling is vastly improved. We need to update the steering box next as the stock steering has little road feel.
Great story. Your car and the story behind it is priceless.