Despite being Celicalicious, yesterday's '77 Toyota liftback drew the ire of 78% of you for its $6,200 price, and flambé accouterments. While that interior was both tacky and unappealing, at least you didn't get the impression that driving the flamer celica would give you scabies, which can't quite be said about today's beautiful brown behemoth.
Meaning Large Turin in boot country talk, Ford's family-hauler from the seventies was big enough to hold the egos of both David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, despite the latter being so pompous that he required freakin' three names. The Gran Torino isn't just big, it's lardasstically so, but the coke bottle shape is proportioned well, and the heavily flared wheel openings provide space for some serious meats under the two-ton sled. Built on the perimeter frame that underpinned Torinos and Fairlanes since the late sixties, the A-arm front/coil-sprung live axle rear suspension was secure enough that Starsky and Hutch always caught the bad guy. If the red with a backwards Nike swoosh cop car doesn't float your boat, keep in mind that Clint Eastwood thought the Gran Torino was so cool, he named a movie after it, and one of the good ones too- although it would have been better if the orangutang had been in it.
Now, that last bit of info might make you ask yourself do you feel lucky, punk? when considering the ad for this hershey squirt-colored '76 with contrasting cream vinyl landau. Running the VIN indicates it's a standard coupe, and that it left the Chicago factory with a 351M 2V and FMX Cruise-O-Matic three on the tree. That combo won't make for Starsky and Hutch style chase scenes, but it's a good base for either a cruiser or a bruiser. The M, based on the 400-cid engine, was the workhorse of the Ford family in the late ‘70s to early eighties, powering both the large sedans and, as an option, the F150 trucks. Only available with the two-barrel, it was good for about 150-bhp in the Torino.
Over its life, this Gran Torino has accumulated its fair share of door dings, scratches and smog-eaten plastics, giving it a comfortable patina of use. But despite all that it's the interior where the car really shines. Think about car interiors- when was the last time you saw one in green and brown- I mean one that hadn't just returned from a frat party? This one, with its brown plastic trim and green velour seats, looks like something that was bit-into, and then returned to the candy box. Ford interiors of the ‘70s were high on slabs of petroleum-based wood and exposed screwheads and this one is no different, however the steering wheel-mounted photos of the Virgin Mary and her overachiever offspring do make it somewhat unique. And it's not just religious iconography setting the interior apart as there are those lucky charms seats, contrasting fur dash cap, various half-empty pill bottles, and some hot mat-on-mat action taking place in the footwells too. At least they threw a blanket down there first to keep the carpet clean. There's also two stereos so you'll never be wanting for music should one of them go flying out the window on a sharp turn due to it never actually having been physically installed.
Lifting the massive hood reveals the 351 with what looks like most everything intact with the exception of the A/C compressor. The evaporator stands proudly at the firewall, but where you normally would expect to find 75-lbs of wheezing, freon-leaking pump, there is only a big nothing ahead of the left cylinder bank. This might make a future sale a challenge if all this global warming talk has any validity.
So it's not Car of the Year caliber, and it's heavier than this year's Truck of the Year winner, but that's not to say plopping down $4,600 on this Ford wouldn't be a Gran idea. Not only are those seats the color of leprechaun shit, but they're a pair of benches providing a minivan-esque 6 passenger capacity without the stigma or comfort of that soccer mom hauler. That alone would make this a perfect I-15 bomber for the runs to Vegas, or to TJ to take in a donkey show- Hee-Haw!
But would you pay $4,600 for what could be considered the antithesis of today's Ford? Is that a fair price to thumb your nose at the tree-huggers and granola-eating hippies clogging up your drive to work in their so-called "bike lane?" Or, is that four Gran too much for this Torino?
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