Monday 2 March 2015
The Ford Torino is an automobile which was produced by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market between 1968 and 1976. It was a competitor in the intermediate market segment. The car was named after the city of Turin (Torino, in Italian), considered the Italian Detroit. The Torino was initially an upscale version of the intermediate sized Ford Fairlane, which Ford produced between 1962 and 1970. After 1968, the Fairlane name was retained for the base models with lower levels of trim than those models which wore the Torino name. During this time, the Torino was considered a subseries to the Fairlane. By 1970 Torino had become the primary name for Ford's intermediate, and the Fairlane was now a subseries of the Torino. In 1971 the Fairlane name was dropped altogether and all Ford intermediates were called Torino. This name was one of several originally proposed for the Mustang while in development. The Torino was essentially a twin to the Mercury Montego line.
Most Torinos were conventional cars, and generally the most popular models were the 4-door sedans and 2-door hardtops. However, Ford produced some high-performance versions of the Torino by fitting them with large powerful engines, such as the 428 cu in (7.0 L) and 429 cu in (7.0 L) "Cobra-Jet" engines. These cars are classified as muscle cars. Ford also chose the Torino as the base for its NASCAR entrants, and it has a successful racing heritage.
The 1974 model year saw more revisions to the Torino line. Government safety regulations now required that the rear bumpers must also meet the 5 mph (8.0 km/h) standard, so all Torinos had the rear bumper and tail lamp panel redesigned. The new rear bumpers were much larger, square shaped, and sat lower on the body. No longer was there a roll pan located below the bumper as on the 1972–73 models. The tail lights were now shorter, more square, and wrapped around the corner, which eliminated the need for rear side marker lights. The fuel filler neck moved to a position above the bumper, rather than below as on 1972–73 models. It was now behind an access door in the centre of the tail light panel just below the trunk lock, rather than behind the licence plate. The front fascia for Gran Torinos was revised for 1974. The new grille was of similar shape to the 1973, but was slightly larger and divided into 8 equal sized vertical sections. A revised emblem was located on the left side of the grille. It had a much finer mesh pattern, and now had the parking lamp lenses mounted vertically behind the outer sections. The front bumper was revised to be slightly more pointed, and the bumper guards were moved more towards the centre of the bumper compared to 1973 models. The license plate bracket was relocated to the driver's side of the bumper. Torino models carried on with the same front fascia as 1973; however, its front bumpers were revised similarly to the Gran Torinos and the license plate remained in the center. Gran Torino Broughams featured a full width red lens across the rear, but the centre portion was non-functional. Broughams and Squires had a stand-up hood ornament inplace of the emblem on the grille.
Torino added several new options and features for 1974. Gran Torino 2-doors now were available with "opera windows", a popular option during the mid-1970s, while Brougham models had these as a standard feature. All 2-door Torinos had fixed rear windows unlike the 1972–73 models. The Torino was becoming more luxury oriented and new luxury features were available. These included a leather-wrapped steering wheel, split bench seat, an electric sunroof, and speed control with steering wheel controls. Gran Torino hardtops and sedans had a new rear fender skirt option, to give the Torino a longer, lower look. The trim was revised on 1974 models; moldings now ran on the rocker panels instead of the lower doors. Brougham and Sport models had an extra chrome molding that ran on the lower fender edge between the front wheelwell and bumper; this gave the appearance of bumper-to-bumper chrome. Squires had no lower body moldings. All 1974 Torinos featured the seat belt-interlock system, as mandated by the U.S. government. This short-lived safety system would be removed after the 1974 model year. The competition suspension was no longer offered, and the only suspension option was a revised heavy-duty suspension package. This option was available on all Torinos except the Elite, and included a larger front sway bar and heavy-duty front and rear springs. Heavy-duty shocks and a rear sway bar were included in this package on 2-door and 4-door sedan models only; station wagons did not include these features.
The Torino model line-up was the same as 1973, with two exceptions. The Gran Torino Sport no longer was available with the "Sportsroof" fastback roofline, and the new "Gran Torino Elite" was introduced. The Gran Torino Elite was developed by Ford to help respond to Chevrolet's ever popular Monte Carlo. The Elite, was designed as an entry level "personal luxury" vehicle, for those who couldn't afford a Thunderbird, and was in the same price range as the Monte Carlo. The Elite was described by Ford as " A totally new 2-door hardtop. ..with Thunderbird-inspired styling, solid engineering and personal luxury. ..plus mid-size economy." The Elite wasn't totally new, as Ford described, but it did have a number of unique features. The Elite had unique front sheet metal, with styling that was indeed inspired by the Thunderbird. It had twin headlamps surrounded by chrome bezels and parking lamps on the outer edges of the pointed front fenders. Its grille was large and rectangular arching across the front. The quarter panels and doors were shared with the Mercury Montego and Mercury Cougar and did not have the sweeping body line like other Torinos. The tail light panel also featured larger tail lights that ran the full width of the car; the centre portion being non-functional. The Elite came standard with a 351-2V V8 engine, automatic transmission, and radial tires. It also featured standard luxury items such as a vinyl roof, opera windows, split bench seat, "Westminster" cloth upholstery, woodgrain trim, and complete instrumentation.
Torinos were now even larger and heavier than ever before. All body styles were approximately 5" longer due in part to the safety bumpers. With all Torinos gaining weight and inches, the 250 CID I-6 was no longer the base engine for any Torino. However, Chilton's and Motor's repair manuals list availability and data for 6-cylinder powered Torinos, even though original sales literature does not list this engine as being available. That said, it appears that some base model Torinos were built with the 250 CID 6-cylinder engine; in fact one of the 6-cylinder Torinos became the main car for the 2004 movie Starsky & Hutch. All Torinos and Gran Torinos now came with the 302-2V as the base engine, and the 3-speed manual remained the standard transmission. As in previous years, the larger V8 engine options required Cruise-O-Matic as a mandatory option. The 429-4V was replaced with the 460-4V which produced more power and torque, and was equipped with dual exhaust. Like the 429, the 460 was automatic transmission only. All other engines saw a slight increase in power levels compared to 1973. The 351 CJ remained the only performance engine (it produced more power than the 460-4V), and saw a 9 hp (6.7 kW) increase and a loss of 22 ft·lbf (30 N·m) or torque. It was the only engine available with the 4-speed transmission; however, this engine was limited to 2-door models only. The tide had turned against performance cars especially since the Oil Crisis in the fall of 1973. Accordingly, 1974 was the last year for the 351 CJ and four-speed transmission.
The Gran Torino Sport was only a shadow of its former self for 1974. With the Sportsroof model discontinued, Sport models were often difficult to distinguish from Gran Torino 2-doors. To add insult to injury, the Sport was even available with optional opera windows (on vinyl-roofed cars) and fender skirts. The Sport continued to have its unique emblems displayed on the grille, the C-pillar, and the fuel filler door, plus "Sport" script was placed by the C-pillar emblem. When opera windows were ordered, the script was placed below the "Gran Torino" nameplate on the fenders, and the C-pillar emblem was deleted. The laser stripe was no longer available, but a lower body multi-coloured non-reflective stripe was an option. The Sport now used the same vinyl door panel of the other Gran Torinos. The instrument package became a standard feature, as were 78 series radial ply tires (70 series used in 1973). Bucket seats remained an option, but now were a low back design with separate head rests. At extra cost, Sport door panels and seats could be highlighted with coloured stripes. The optional "Magnum 500" wheel was revised with the formerly chromed wheel rim replaced by a polished trim ring and argent painted spokes. Performance was even more lackluster for 1974 models, with power down and weight up. The 1974 Sport had a shipping weight almost 400 lb (180 kg) heavier than a 1972 Sport.
Torino had another successful year in 1974, and continued to be ever popular. Ford produced 426,086 units, including 96,604 Gran Torino Elites.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 5700 cc
- horsepower: 170 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 175 km/h