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Ford Gran Torino

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Gran Torino
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Wikipedia: Ford Torino

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A full-size car produced by Ford from 1972-1976. A continuation and update of the 1970-1971 Ford Torino.

Popular television and film appearances include the 1975-1976 models used in the police-themed television program Starsky & Hutch, key scenes in the 2009 film Fast and Furious, and as a key plot device in the 2008 Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Ford Torino page on 2 December 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

1972

For 1972, the Torino was redesigned using many characteristics carried over from the previous generation. The 1972 Torino styling emphasized the "long hood short deck" look and had strong elements of coke bottle styling. The Torino line was also revised to be made up of basic models called "Torino" and more upscale models called "Gran Torinos." The most radical change was a large eggcrate grille in an oval opening on Gran Torinos. Tom McCahill, stated "the gaping grille looks a little like it was patterned after Namu, the killer whale", but also stated that the Torino had "kind of pleasing, no-nonsense styling." Gran Torinos had chrome bezels surrounding the headlamps on each side of the large oval grille. Base Torinos had a full width argent eggcrate grille that surrounded the headlights. Base Torinos also used a unique hood and front bumper differentiating it from the Gran Torino models. The Torino's front fenders were flared around the wheel opening and the rear quarter panel had strong character line extending to the rear bumper. The windshield had a more rakish 60-degree angle, while the A-pillars and roof were thinner. Even with this changes, structural integrity remained the same as 1971 models. The rear featured a full width bumper that incorporated thin rectangular tail lights into each bumper end. All Torinos had "DirectAire" ventilation as standard equipment resulting in vent windows vanishing from four-door and station wagon models. The Torino incorporated new safety features for 1972, including new flush mount door handles and side door guard rails.

The number of models was reduced from 14 models in 1971 to 9 in 1972. The convertible was discontinued, and the 4-door hardtops and sedans were replaced with 4-door "pillared hardtops." This was Ford's term for 4-door sedans with frameless door glass. All other body styles remained, including the fastback, which Ford continued to dub "SportsRoof". "Torino" remained the base series, but the mid-level Torino 500 was renamed "Gran Torino". The Torino Brougham was reduced to an option package for the Gran Torino, and Torino GT became "Gran Torino Sport." The Torino and Gran Torino were available as a 2-door hardtop and a 4-door sedan; the Gran Torino Sport was available as a 2-door hardtop and SportsRoof. The station wagon line-up consisted of three models: "Torino," "Gran Torino," and "Gran Torino Squire." The Cobra model was discontinued as the Torino line was refocused toward luxury and de-emphasized performance.

The biggest change for the Torino was the switch to body-on-frame construction from the unit-construction of the 1971 models. The new chassis was a perimeter design that was used to help give the Torino a quieter and more isolated ride. It featured an energy absorbing "S" shaped front end, torque boxes to isolate road shock, fourteen rubber body mounts and five solid cross members. The front suspension used an unequal length control arm design, with a computer selected coil spring mounted on the strut stabilized lower control arm, much like the fullsize Ford LTD. The rear used the "Stabul" four link suspension with a computer selected coil spring mounted on a solid axle. The new suspension and chassis had a wheel track at least 2 inches (51 mm) wider than the 1971 models. Motor Trend stated the "road isolation and vibrational dampening is superb" in its test of a 1972 Gran Torino Brougham 4-door. Ford offered two suspension options, the heavy-duty and competition suspension. The heavy-duty suspension included a larger front sway bar, and heavy-duty springs and shocks. Competition suspension, only available in two-door models, included the most heavy-duty springs and shocks, heavy duty rear upper control arms and bushings, a larger front sway bar, and the addition of a rear sway bar. This was the first year that a rear sway bar was offered in the Torino and was only available with competition and police suspension options. Front disc brakes became standard on all Torinos, which no other American intermediate (other than its sister car the Mercury Montego) offered in 1972, however, power brakes remained an option. The only exceptions were that power brakes were standard on the Gran Torino Squire station wagons and a mandatory option for all 429 cu in (7.0 L) powered models. The power steering was revised to be integral in the steering box, rather than the external booster style used in previous years. All Torinos used 14-inch wheels, while 15-inch wheels were used for exclusively by police and taxi models.

1973

The most obvious change for the 1973 model saw was a new front fascia, required to meet new federal regulations. The new regulation mandated that all cars manufactured after September 1, 1972 must be able to take a 5 mph (8.0 km/h) strike to the front without damaging safety related components such as headlamps and the fuel system. For 1973 only, rear bumpers had a 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) requirement. The Torino's front end featured totally new sheetmetal from the firewall forward, with a blunt, more squared-off fascia replacing the previous year's pointed prow. The new large square 5 mph (8.0 km/h) energy absorbing bumper replaced the almost body-fitting chrome bumper used on the front of the 1972 Torino. The new larger bumpers caused all Torino models to increase in length by at least 1", and weight also increased by at least 100 lb (45 kg) for all models. Rear bumpers and taillights were unchanged from 1972, but used new brackets that increased the space between the bumper and the sheetmetal.

Separate grille designs were still maintained for Torino and Gran Torino models; they mimicked the 1972s in design. The Gran Torino now had a more rectangular grill with the parking lamps horizontally placed in the grille, but the quad headlights were still surrounded with a chrome bezel. The Torino models had a wider full width grill that surrounded the headlamps; however, the parking lamps were located on the outer edge of the fascia. The leading edge of the hood was now squared off to follow the fascia's lines, and all models shared the same hood. The 1973 Torino maintained the rear bumper of the 1972 Torino, and incorporated minor changes to meet the 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) mandate. Rear bumpers now featured an impact strip and bumper guards.

The model line-up for 1973 increased to 11 from the 9 models in 1972. The new top level Torino was the "Gran Torino Brougham", available as a 2-door hardtop and a 4-door sedan. All other models remained the same. Bench seats for 1973 now featured low backs with separate head rests to increase rear visibility. The high back bucket seats were still available on the two-door models. The hood release was moved to inside, for increased security. Radial tires were also a new option, and offered longer tread life and better road manners. The standard engine remained as the 250 CID inline-six for all models, except the station wagons and Sport which used the 302-2V. Engine options also remained the same, and all engines now had their compression ratio dropped to 8.0:1. Power for all engines was slightly lower than in 1972. The 351 CJ continued to be the only high-performance engine and only saw a 2 hp (1.5 kW) drop from 1972, although performance decreased again due to the weight increase. Police package Torinos had all the engine options of the civilian models while the "Interceptor" package featured a 460-4V new for 1973. All models featured larger 11-inch (279 mm) rear drum brakes for 1973 to help cope with the extra weight; 1972 models used 10-inch (254 mm) drums.

1974

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 beveled rectangular wrap-around units 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 center 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. The grille had a much finer mesh pattern with vertical parking lamps in the outer sections embossed with the grille pattern on the surface of the lens. The grille emblem was changed and the front bumper was revised to be slightly more pointed, and the bumper guards were moved more towards the center 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.

1975

For the 1975 model year, the Ford Torino received a number of minor improvements, but was for the most part unchanged. The model line-up received only one change; the Gran Torino Elite was no longer part of the Torino line-up. The Elite was now an independent model, and marketed simply as the Ford Elite. All Torinos featured solid state ignition systems for 1975, which improved starting performance and fuel economy, while reducing maintenance costs. Radial tires, another fuel saving feature, power steering and power brakes were all new standard features for all Torinos. 1975 Torinos featured a new steering wheel design and a new for that year option was a "Fuel Sentry" vacuum gauge.

The 1975 model year saw almost no changes to the exterior styling. The only significant change was that Torino models now adopted the Gran Torino grille and front fascia. Torino's weight continued to climb, even though the exterior dimensions were unchanged from 1974.

The Federal Clean Air Act caused Ford to install catalytic converters for 1975 to help meet new emission standards. The converter significantly reduced the power output of the engines due to increased exhaust back pressure. In response, Ford changed the base engine on all Torinos to the 351-2V engine; along with this change, the Cruise-O-Matic transmission became standard. No manual transmissions were available. Power for all engines, except the 460, was significantly reduced compared to 1974, and with the weight increase, fuel economy and performance continued to decrease. The 400-2V and the 460-4V were the only engine options, as the 351-4V was no longer available.

1976

The 1976 model year saw no major changes to the Torino line-up. The Gran Torino Sport was discontinued, and so the Torino consisted of 9 separate models; 2- and 4-door versions of the Torino, Gran Torino, and Gran Torino Brougham, along with three station wagon models. New options for the 1976 model year included a power trunk release and an automatic parking brake release. Gran Torino 2-doors could now be ordered with the center console when optional bucket seats were specified; previously the console was only available on Sport models. In addition, opera windows and landau roofs were now available options for all 2-door models. There were no styling changes made to Torino for 1976.

Engine options remained the unchanged for 1976, however fuel economy was improved on all engines with revisions to the engine spark advance and the EGR valve operation. The 351-2V engines and the 400-2V had a power and torque increase, and the 460-4V had a power decrease. In an attempt to help improve fuel economy, the standard rear axle ratio for all models was now 2.75:1.

1975–1976 Gran Torinos were used in the popular Spelling-Goldberg Productions TV series Starsky and Hutch. The producers needed a flashy specialty car for the main characters to drive. Since Ford was the lease supplier for on-screen cars through their Studio-TV Car Loan Program, eventually it was decided by the producers that a bright red 1975 Gran Torino two-door would be the vehicle of choice for the pilot episode. To make the Torino less mundane, a large white vector stripe was added. Aluminum 5-slot mag wheels and larger rear tires replaced the stock wheels and tires, and air shocks were added to give the car an aggressive rake. The television show became quite popular with the public, and much of that popularity was centered on the star Torino. Ford couldn't help but take notice to the public's interest in the "Starsky and Hutch" Torino, and decided to introduce a replica version of the TV car.

Ford built 1,000 replicas of the "Starsky and Hutch" car in the spring of 1976. Production of the replicas began in March 1976, and all were produced in Ford's Chicago manufacturing plant. This limited production package was essentially a special paint option, but required the deluxe bumper group and dual color-keyed sport mirrors as mandatory options. The TV car's slotted mag wheels were not offered by Ford, and the only aggressive wheel option was the "Magnum 500" wheel. They were not a mandatory option though, and these cars came equipped with wheel covers as a standard feature. When producing the replicas, Ford painted the entire car white, then masked off the stripe and painted the rest of the car the shade of bright red (code 2B) used on the 1972–75 models (and subsequently the TV cars); this color had been discontinued for all other Torino models for 1976 in favor of a different shade of red. The factory replicas were close to the TV show car, but had minor differences in the stripe, and did not have the aggressive rake of the TV car. Many replica owners installed slotted mag wheels, and air shocks after purchase to give the car a more authentic look. The "Starsky and Hutch" replica was available with all Torino engines. Seat colors were limited to black or white and were available with all seating trims and options. One of the factory replicas was leased to Spelling-Goldberg as a backup for the original Torinos that were created for the show.

Production total for Torino in 1976 was 193,096 units, slightly lower than 1975. This would be the final year for the Ford Torino.

The Torino chassis continued to live on under the Ford LTD II, Ford Thunderbird, the Mercury Cougar and the Ford Ranchero for 1977 to 1979 model years.


Photographs

1972 Ford Gran Torino 1972
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Richmond, Illinois Cruise Night:  July 20, 2007
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino - 1,970KB
1972 Ford Gran Torino 1972
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Richmond, Illinois Cruise Night:  July 20, 2007
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino - 2,209KB
1979 Mercury Montego MX & 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport 1979 Mercury Montego MX Pickup (rebadged Ford Ranchero)
1972 Sport
Photo ©2016 Bill Crittenden
2016 Lakemoor Charity Car Show
View photo of 1979 Mercury Montego MX & 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport - 5.6MB
1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport 1972 Sport
Photo ©2016 Bill Crittenden
2016 Lakemoor Charity Car Show
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport - 2.5MB
1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport 1972 Sport
Photo ©2016 Bill Crittenden
2016 Lakemoor Charity Car Show
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport - 4.4MB
1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport 1972 Sport
Photo ©2016 Bill Crittenden
2016 Lakemoor Charity Car Show
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport - 2.3MB
1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport 1972 Sport
Photo ©2016 Bill Crittenden
2016 Lakemoor Charity Car Show
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport - 4.3MB
1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport 1972 Sport
Photo ©2016 Bill Crittenden
2016 Lakemoor Charity Car Show
View photo of 1972 Ford Gran Torino Sport - 3.1MB
1973 Ford Gran Torino Cobra 1973 "Cobra"
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Buss Ford Car Show
September 9, 2007
View photo of 1973 Ford Gran Torino "Cobra" - 1,998KB
1973 Ford Gran Torino Cobra 1973 "Cobra"
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Buss Ford Car Show
September 9, 2007
View photo of 1973 Ford Gran Torino "Cobra" - 1,614KB
1973 Ford Gran Torino Cobra 1973 "Cobra"
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Buss Ford Car Show
September 9, 2007
View photo of 1973 Ford Gran Torino "Cobra" - 1,714KB
1973 Ford Gran Torino Cobra 1973 "Cobra"
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Buss Ford Car Show
September 9, 2007
View photo of 1973 Ford Gran Torino "Cobra" - 1,679KB
1973 Ford Gran Torino Cobra 1973 "Cobra"
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Buss Ford Car Show
September 9, 2007
View photo of 1973 Ford Gran Torino "Cobra" - 1,865KB
1973 Ford Gran Torino Cobra 1973 "Cobra"
Photo ©2007 Bill Crittenden
Buss Ford Car Show
September 9, 2007
View photo of 1973 Ford Gran Torino "Cobra" - 1,890KB


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Model Kit - AMT 21803P1972 Gran Torino Stock CarModel King, 1:25 scale, Vic Collins #72


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