I don’t believe I’ve made clear just how much of an advantage living on the West coast is when it comes to car spotting, but suffice it to say, those of us who live in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are far more likely to see a car like this Gran Torino, shrug and simply walk away without taking photos. That this car has survived apparently indifferent care for over forty years only to appear on an otherwise unremarkable rural used car lot marks it among the toughest of survivors.
About 52,000 of these Sport Fastbacks were sold new out of a total of almost 497,000 Torinos. That’s over ten percent of a widely distributed Ford’s sales, but over fifty states and forty-one years, that total dwindles. This is, however, among the more desirable Torino bodystyles, from the era when the coupe was king in the intermediate market. Despite its musclecar holdover styling, however, the new Torino was the leader when it came to tranquility. While formal Gran Torino (including Brougham) hardtop coupe sales remained in the 100,000 unit range throughout the midsize Ford’s 72-76 production run, the 1974 introduction of the Elite resonated strongly with American tastes at the time, leading to the effective replacement of the fastback body by 1975, when it sold only five thousand units to the Elite’s 123,000. Yikes–talk about a rapid change in preferences.
All of that would make this particular car a pleasant sight for Torino cognoscenti but as is evident, it’s seen better days. Now, if the frame is somehow solid or at least easily refurbished (not likely), this could make quite a good buy for the midsize Ford lover, as long as the dealer is sane.
If not, however, a potential buyer could find many a solid basis on which to bring down the price. As this interior shot reveals, this was one of the period’s nicer instrument panels, but a bench seat and manual windows show that the original buyer of this most specialized of Torinos didn’t spec-out the car as lavishly as was possible.
If the condition of the exterior panels is to be trusted, a vinyl top wasn’t part of the deal either. If so, kudos to the person whose restraint is to be rewarded; the fastback provided a stylish roofline without forcing the addition of extra trim.
With the new for ’73 bumper and front end, however, deliberately formal embellishments made sense. This car is therefore very much a transition car; its fast flanks bear the mark of their late ’60s conception, but the bumpers, long model name and declining popularity announce the superincumbence of Brougham on the aspirational midsize market. I can only hope that whoever buys this survivor realizes its space in the long history of the American intermediate car.