What do you think of when you hear the word “Torino”? I think of Turin, Italy (it’s called “Torino” in Italian) and Fiat sports cars built there over the years. I then think of the Clint Eastwood movie “Gran Torino”, which featured a 1972 Ford Torino not at all like our subject car. Our feature car is remarkable for its unremarkableness.
This is a base model Torino sedan that appears to be in good condition. Under the patina of northwest moss and lichen and you’ll see a super straight body. This car looks like it has been in a cocoon for the past several decades. I’m curious to know its story; it does not have collector vehicle plates, so I assume it is used as daily transport. Or the original owner has been dutifully keeping it licensed, unaware that their old car qualifies for “collector” status.
This isn’t a special car. It’s a base model sedan, probably equipped with a smaller engine mated to an automatic transmission. However, the ordinary-ness of this car is what makes it cool to me. It’s a survivor, running errands for 40 years, not pampered as a heavily optioned big engined Torino would be these days.
Perhaps it’s the utilitarian nature of this car that has preserved it? This being a 1972, it was sold as emissions strangulation and the oil embargo era were beginning to kill sporting automotive intentions. While 1972 wasn’t nearly as bad as later years in the 70s, the ’72 Torinos made less power than the ’71s. This car’s smaller engine would give it better fuel economy, perhaps earning it “keeper” status as fuel prices rose. Most of the larger engined American cars of this era became unwanted gas-guzzlers when the oil embargo caused oil prices to rise. This caused resale values to plummet.
Due to those plummeting resale values, many interesting cars from this era were sent to the junkyard when they broke down. The Torino in 1972 could be had with a variety of 8 cylinder engines and a single inline 6. The performance combination was the 351 Cleveland V8 equipped with a 4 barrel carburetor. This was the only engine that could be ordered with the 4 speed manual transmission and dual exhaust. Clint Eastwood’s car in Gran Torino was a 1972 Sport Roof (aka “fastback”) with a 351.
While this isn’t a muscle car and wasn’t a rare car when it was new, I was surprised to see it parked on the street running errands. This car has earned being remarkable by surviving for over 40 years as its peers have broken down and been sent to the junkyard.
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