Ford Elite is First Produced

The Ford Elite was an automobile produced by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market from 1974 to 1976.

The Elite was based on the Ford Torino, and was a two-door coupe intended to be, in the words of Ford's advertising, a "mid-size car in the Thunderbird tradition"—a more affordable personal luxury car than the Thunderbird, intended to compete with such cars as the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the Chrysler Cordoba. It was essentially the concurrent Mercury Cougar XR-7 with a mild front end restyle.
In the 1974 model year, the Elite was considered a sub-model of the Torino; although advertised separately, the side script said "Gran Torino Elite" and the car would be titled and registered as a Gran Torino. In 1975 and 1976 (with "Elite" side script) ,the Elite was fully its own model. In all three years, the car sold well.
The Elite name was dropped after 1976 because the Ford range was being restructured and downsized. The Thunderbird was dramatically reduced in size and price for 1977, moving to the old Torino platform, whereas the Elite was replaced by the LTD II. In effect, the Elite continued under the more-recognized Thunderbird name, with the larger car being discontinued.

As standard, the Elite came with:
351W 351M V8 engine of 351 CID (5.8 L)
3-speed automatic transmission
Power brakes (front disc brakes, rear drum brakes).
Power steering
Cloth bench seats
Vinyl roof with twin opera windows, Landau (partial) vinyl top for 1976 model year.
Protective padded body side moldings

The Ford Elite was an automobile produced by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market for the 1974-1976 model years. The Elite was based on the Ford Torino, and was a two-door coupe intended to be, in the words of Ford's advertising, a "mid-size car in the Thunderbird tradition"—a more affordable personal luxury car than the Thunderbird, intended to compete with such cars as the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the Chrysler Cordoba.
In the 1974 model year, the Elite was considered a sub-model of the Torino; although advertised separately, the side script said "Gran Torino Elite" and the car would be titled and registered as a Gran Torino. In 1975 and 1976, the Elite was fully its own model. In all three years, the car sold well.
The Elite vanished from the Ford range after 1976 because the Ford range was being restructured and downsized. The Thunderbird was reduced in size for 1977, being based on the old Torino platform; the Torino was discontinued, being replaced by the LTD II. In a sense, then, the Elite survived, but under the more-recognised Thunderbird name, the larger car being discontinued.