Ford Torino is First Produced
The Ford Torino is an intermediate car produced by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market between 1968 and 1976.
It 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 from those models which wore the Torino name. During this time, the Torino was considered a subseries to the Fairlane. By 1970 the Torino name 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 Torinos. Torino is Italian for the city of Turin, which is considered the Detroit of Italy. 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 4-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 L) and 429 cu in (7 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 highly successful racing heritage.
In 1968 the Ford Motor Company introduced its intermediate line with a new body and new styling. Along with the new body and styling came the new upscale series Torino. The Fairlane name continued to be used for lower level models, and the Torino was considered a sub-series to the Fairlane during this time. The 1968 Fairlane and Torino used the same wheelbases as its 1967 predecessor--- 116 in (2,946 mm) on 2 and 4-door models, and 113 in (2,870 mm) for station wagon models.
Styling was all new for the 1968 Fairlane/Torino, and it was drastically changed from the 1967 models. The new intermediate had grown in size and weight, and a new fastback model was added. The front fascia featured a full width recessed grille, with horizontal quad headlights placed at the outer edges. Horizontal dividing bars were featured in the grille depending on the model. Parking lights were placed at the outer edge of the front fenders and wrapped around the corner to also act as side marker lights (a new requirement in 1968). The body sides were smooth with one horizontal body crease running just below the beltline from front to back. The taillights were rectangular in shape and vertically situated in the rear panel above the rear bumper. Reverse lights were located in the middle of the taillights, and small side marker lights were located on the rear edge of the quarter panel. Fastback models, which Ford called "SportsRoof," featured a slightly concaved rear taillight panel unique to that body style. The new SportsRoof body style featured a gently sloped long roof line that extended to the edge of the trunk lid. This new fastback body style gave the Fairlane and the Torino excellent aerodynamics that would later prove to be advantageous on the race track.
Ford had 14 different models for its intermediate line for 1968. The base model was the "Fairlane", which was available in a 2-door hardtop, a 4-door sedan, and a 4-door station wagon. Next was the mid level "Fairlane 500", which was available as a 2-door hardtop, SportsRoof and convertible, and a 4-door sedan and station wagon. This was followed by the top level "Torino" series, which consisted of a 2-door hardtop, a 4-door sedan, and the Squire station wagon that featured wood grained applique. Finally, the "Torino GT", the sporty version of the Fairlane 500 series, included a 2-door hardtop, SportsRoof and convertible.
The Fairlane/Torino continued to be constructed with unit-construction like the 1967 models. The new car continued to use the same suspension as 1967 models, which was coil springs pivot mounted on an upper control arm and a strut stabilized lower control arms in front, with long semi-elliptical leaf springs on a solid axle in rear. A heavy duty suspension option was available for V8 powered cars, and included extra heavy duty springs and shocks. Steering was recirculating ball system, with power steering optional. All cars came standard with four wheel drum brakes, although front disc brakes and power assist were options.
The interior on the Fairlane/Torino was all new for 1968. A new dashboard featured four equally sized round pods centred around the steering wheel. However, the pods did not contain a full set of gauges; rather an assortment of warning lights along with the speedometer and fuel gauge. The fuel gauge and temperature warning lights were in the first pod, a 120 mph (190 km/h) speedometer was located in the second pod from the left, alternator and oil pressure warning lights were in the third pod from the left and the forth pod was blank. An optional tachometer was available, which would be located in the third pod, and an optional clock occupied the forth pod. Ford offered many upholstery options, including a knitted vinyl option, called "comfortweave." This unique option allowed the vinyl to "breathe" unlike conventional vinyl, offering more comfort in hot weather.
Ford had quite a variety of engine options for its intermediate line. All models came standard with a 200 cu in (3.3 L) six-cylinder engine, except for the Torino GT models, which came standard with a 302 cu in (4.9 L)-2V small block V8. Available engines included a 289 cu in (4.7 L)-2V small block V8, a 302 cu in (4.9 L)-2V (for all models other than the GT), a 390 cu in (6.4 L)-2V FE engine, and a 390 cu in (6.4 L)-4V FE engine. A 427 cu in (7 L)-4V FE engine was initially listed as an engine option for 1968, but was later removed and no Fairlanes or Torinos were actually produced with this engine during 1968. Introduced on April 1, 1968, the 428 cu in (7 L)-4V CJ (Cobra-Jet) FE engine became available as an engine option, but due to its mid-year introduction these engines are very rare. The 428-4V Cobra-Jet was by far the most potent engine available, but was said to be under-rated at 335 horsepower (250 kW). The cars equipped with the 428 Cobra Jets had emblems borrowed from the full-sized Fords (a red-and-chrome badge reading "428") mounted on the fenders behind the parking lamps. All models came standard with a three-speed manual transmission, while the Cruise-O-Matic automatic and four-speed manual transmissions were options.
The Torino model featured full colour-keyed carpeting, additional exterior and interior trim, and Torino crests on the 'C' pillar. The Torino GT's standard features included bucket seats and a console, special name plaques and exterior trim, GT markings on wheel covers, and courtesy lights on the inside door panels. The Torino GT was also available with a GT handling suspension package, which included extra heavy duty springs and shocks, and a heavy duty front anti-sway bar. Four-speed equipped cars had staggered rear shocks which help resist axle hop. GTs were available with a unique stripe option, which started as a 'C' shape at the edge of the front fender, and two body stripes extended the length of the car.
Although there were faster cars for 1968, the Torino GT when equipped properly offered an excellent combination of power and handling. In Car Life magazine's test of a 1968 Torino GT SportsRoof equipped with a 390-4V, C-6, and 3.25:1 axle, they recorded a 0 - 60 mph (97 km/h) time of 7.7 seconds, and the quarter mile time (~400 m) of 15.8 seconds at 90 mph (140 km/h). Motor Trend magazine wrote "Putting the car through quick and/or tight corners isn't a matter of practiced art - it's more like second nature for the GT" in their test of a 1968 Torino GT. Car and Driver magazine tested a 1968 Ford Torino GT equipped with the 428 CJ with Ram Air induction, C-6 Cruise-O-Matic, and 3.91:1 gears and recorded a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds at 98.9 mph (159.2 km/h). Car and Driver wrote the Torino had "a 1-2 shift that broke the Wide-Ovals loose for at least a length. With a price tag of $306 for the Cobra-Jet option, Ford lovers have a reason to rejoice."
As previously mentioned, station wagons came in three different models: "Fairlane", "Fairlane 500", and "Torino Squire." All wagons came equipped with Ford's "Magic Doorgate" three-way tailgate, and were available with an optional rear facing third seat which increased the car's carrying capacity from 6 to 8 people. Torino Squire models came standard with simulated woodgrain side panels, and had the more refined trim and upholstry of the Torino sedans. Unique station wagon options included a chrome roof rack and a power rear window.
1968 was a successful year for Torino with 172,083 units produced. Including Fairlane production, 371,787 cars were produced. The Torino was well received by the automotive press and a 1968 Torino GT convertible was selected as the 1968 Indianapolis 500 pace car.
The 1969 Fairlane/Torino saw few cosmetic changes, but there were quite a few performance oriented changes. Ford performed the typical minor styling adjustments, but overall the 1969 models were very similar to the 1968 models. The grille was revised slightly, and now had a more prominent centre dividing bar, while the taillights were more square in shape than the 1968 units. All models above the Fairlane, had an aluminium dividing bar that ran across the rear panel, between the taillights and inline with the reverse lights on SportsRoof models.
The number of models produced by Ford increase for 1969, from 14 to 16. All other models were the same as 1968, with the two new models being the "Cobra" 2-door SportsRoof and 2-door hardtop. Most automotive literature list these models as "Torino Cobra", with the Cobra being a sub-series to the Torino, although there is some debate about the true name of the vehicle. Most of Ford's literature at the time only used the name "Cobra" without Torino or Fairlane attached. However, the Cobra has the same body code as a Fairlane 500, so some refer to these cars as the "Fairlane Cobra". The car itself did not have any Fairlane or Torino nameplates on its exterior or interior, although 1969 NASCAR entrants were labeled "Torino Cobras." For the purpose of this article, "Cobra" will be used, as Ford marketed the car as such in 1969 without Fairlane of Torino attached.
The engine line-up was slightly revised for 1969. All models, except Torino GTs and Cobras, came standard with a new larger 250 cu in (4.1 L) I-6 engine. The larger displacement produced more power and torque than the 200 cu in (3.3 L) engine. Optional engines included the 302 cu in (4.9 L)-2V (standard on GTs), the new for 1969 351 cu in (5.8 L)-2V Windsor, 351-4V Windsor, 390 cu in (6.4 L)-4V, and the 428 cu in (7 L)-4V Cobra Jet (standard on Cobras). The 428 CJ was available with or without the Ram Air Induction package, however, those with Ram Air still carried the same advertised power rating. The 428 CJ without Ram Air, came with the following items: 80 Amper Heavy Duty battery, 3.25:1 open differential, heavy duty cooling package, 55 Amper alternator, chrome valve covers and dual exhaust. The Ram Air 428 CJ included all of the above, but had a 3.50:1 open differential, and the functional hood scoop. With Ram Air, "428 Cobra Jet" emblems were placed on each side of the hood scoop; without Ram Air, "428" emblems were placed on the front fender.
The 428 CJ was no longer the top engine choice; the ultimate engine option was the 428-4V Super Cobra Jet (SCJ). This engine was specifically designed for drag racing, and the option package was referred to as the "Drag Pack." This engine option could be ordered with the Q-code 428-4V or the R-code 'Ram Air' equipped 428-4V. Included with 428 SCJ were cast pistons, a nodular controlled cast-iron crankshaft casting 1UA or 1UA B with an external weight on the snout behind the balancer, 427 (LeMans) capscrew connecting rods, an engine oil cooler, and either a 9 inches (230 mm) rear axle with 3.91:1 gears and a Traction-Lock limited slip or 4.30:1 gears with a Detroit Locker. The Detroit Locker and the oil cooler were industry exclusives to Ford. This package did not change Ford's advertised power rating of 335 hp (250 kW).
The Cobra was an exciting new car, and was a serious muscle car package. The Cobra came standard with a 428-4V CJ, competition suspension, 4-speed manual transmission and F70-14 tires. The car also included a blacked out grille, hood lock pins, and "Cobra" emblems. Early Cobras had a large "Cobra" decal on the front fenders, but this was later replaced with a metal emblem. The Cobra was Ford's response to the successful Plymouth Road Runner, which was a high performance car at low cost. For this reason, the Cobra had the lesser trim level of the Fairlane 500 to help keep costs low. Road Test magazine wrote the "big engine and whopping torque get the Cobra Jet off the line with smoking tires" in their test of a 1969 Cobra with the Ram Air 428 CJ, 4-speed and 3.50 gears. They obtained a 15.07 seconds at 95.74 mph (154.08 km/h) quarter mile run, however this was likely hampered due to the car not being equipped with a tachometer. They also reported difficulty with the factory shifter and stated "we would have liked a Hurst shifter, and might have bettered our times with one."
The Torino GT relatively unchanged from 1968, and continued to come standard with a 302-2V engine. The grille received minor updates, including revised divider bars and the GT emblem moved to the lower left corner of the grille. The 'C' stripe was revised, and now ran in straight lines, rather than following the body line like in 1968. All 1969 Torino GT's came equipped a non-functional fibreglass hood scoop that had turn signal indicators at the rear of the scoop (this was optional on non-Ram Air Cobras). This scoop became functional if the 428-4V with Ram Air induction was specified. The hood scoop could also be deleted from the GT for a credit. Although the Torino GT could easily be optioned to include all of the Cobra's performance features, the GT was a more upscale vehicle and had the more refined Torino trim. The Torino GT was marketed more towards the "luxury performance" market.
Ford added one more special high performance vehicle to its intermediate line-up, the Torino Talladega. See the NASCAR Inspired Torinos section for a detailed information on this model.
Ford Torino production decreased for 1969, and a total of 129,054 units were produced. Including Fairlane production, 366,911 cars were produced, slightly down from the 1968 numbers. Torino GTs were the majority of Torinos produced, accounting for 81,822 units produced. Ford did not provide separate production number for the Cobra, so exact production numbers are unavailable for that model.
1968 Torino Fastback
The Ford Torino was produced by the Ford motor company from 1968/1976. Described as "Ford's newest bright idea" , the all new Torino was created to eventually replace the very popular Fairlane name with an all new brand of Ford beauty, power and style. Although Ford still used the Fairlane name up through 1971, the Torino name was used on most body styles and was designed with all new looks and appeal for a whole new generation of car buyers.
Still a sports sedan, the first Torino was larger in size than the previous year Fairlane and incorporated a whole new roof line in the fastback as well as the new two door hardtop, also called a two door formal roof. The Torino was built from the start with plenty of power and comfort with standard equipment v-8 engines from the small block 302, to the big block 390 and 428 Cobra Jet introduced in 1969. The 1968 Torino was offered in several styles. Available in the two door fastback, two or four door hardtop, station wagon, and two door convertible. The Ranchero pickup also carried the Torino front end design for 1968. Ford used the Fairlane name on the economy version of the Torino. Although a lot of car, these Fairlanes were different than the Torino in molding design, standard options, and interior trim décor. The Torino GT was the upscale Torino in 1968 with standard body decal stripe, styled steel wheels, wide oval sports tires and standard equipment v-8 engine. These were available with optional four speed floor shift. We have yet to see an actual example, but 1968 Torino literature indicates that the Torino was available with the 427 cubic inch Cobra V-8 engine with four barrel carburetor and hydraulic lifters.
1969 Fairlane Cobra
The 1969 Ford Torino carried the same body lines and model designations as in the previous year. Soon to be a racing legend and high performance hall of famer, the all new Fairlane Cobra was introduced in 1969 in addition to the other models. The new Cobra was built for speed with one of the most fierce "showroom stock" performance engines ever built. Available in either the two door hardtop, or fastback roofline, the Fairlane Cobra was fitted with standard equipment 428 four barrel Cobra Jet big block power plant. The new performance Fairlane, boasted 335 horsepower at 440 pounds of torque at 3400 rpm. The carburetor was a healthy 735 cfm. Also standard on the Cobra was floor mounted four speed manual transmission, dual exhaust, beefed up suspension for minimum body roll and factory bucket seats. If this did not get you excited, you could order an optional ram-air option with functional air hood scoop or a "Traction-Lok" differential.
1970 Torino GT fastback
The 1970 and 1971 Ford Torino featured a complete new body style change with all new looks and style. The new lower, wider, and longer Torino was gracefully designed with aerodynamic lines. 1970 saw the introduction of the 351 Cleveland engines in the Torino as well as the new 429 Thunder Jet, Cobra Jet, and Super Cobra Jet engine options. The 429 Cobra Jet was rated at a whopping 360 horsepower right out of the box, with an additional 5 horsepower added when ordered with the "ram air" shaker hood with functional air scoop. Also available on the Torino GT and Cobra was the Hurst four speed manual transmission, rear window louvers or sports slats, ribbon style tachometer, rim blow three spoke steering wheel, high back bucket seats, fifteen inch magnum 500 chrome wheels, And traction-lok differential in the rear. A very notable and popular option on the Torino was the flip style hideaway headlight option. This vacuum operated headlights would open when driving and hideaway in closed position when the car was turned off. The new Torino GT featured a new design reflective body side decal called "laser stripes". These attractive new stripes faded in multiple colors while being light reflecting. These were optional equipment on Torino GT and Ranchero GT.
As you can see, the 1970 and 1971 Torino offered the enthusiast a whole range of choices depending on the buyers interest. And for the family or business executive, the Torino Brougham offered luxurious accommodations with all the good looks of the sport models. The 1970 Torino was so well received that it was voted motor trend magazines car of the year.
1972 Gran Torino Fastback
The introduction of the 1972 Torino was a whole new design for the Torino. This car had a futuristic design which immediately gained public interest due to it's masculine "fish mouth" grill design. A much bigger Torino built with greater safety and more metal than ever before. The 1972 model eliminated the convertible models and maintained the two door formal roof and fastback models, as well as the four door and station wagons. The 1972 introduced a new model name in the "Gran Torino" and "Gran Torino Sport" as Ford had now eliminated the "GT" model name in place of the new Gran Torino. Although these cars were still built in performance models, significant changes in emissions had changed the engines significantly for a major drop in available horsepower. The most powerful engine now offered was the 351 four barrel "Cobra Jet" engine with four bolt main and available with optional 4 speed Hurst transmission. The distinctive lines and new design earned the new Torino great reviews from the start. Although not the performance giants of their older brothers, these Torinos, when equipped right were a very powerful car on their own.
The 1973 models included the same body styles and options of the previous year with a change in the front nose design due to new impact regulations for new car manufacturers. This new design reflected a flatter more square grill design.
In 1974, the Ford Torino changed again with a new look. The body lines were very similar to the 1972/1973 except for the new grill and front clip design. These cars were becoming more of the luxury car and the performance options were being eliminated up through 1976. Although a attractive car, these Torinos were built more for the family than the performance driver. The 1975 Gran Torino was used in the very popular TV series "Starsky and Hutch". These bright red sport models with signature white body stripe were produced in very low production for the television show. The 1976 Torino was the last and final Torino before being replaced by the LTD name and product line.
The Ford Torino offered many choices and was built Ford tough to cater to a variety of buyers from the family wagon to the ferocious cobra performance models. These cars will be remembered for their distinct style.