In 1968 Ford introduced the mid-sized vehicle, the Torino, which stayed in production until 1976. The Torino replaced the Fairlane, although the name persisted on the base level models but given differnet trim than the Torino versions. The Torino was available as a two-door fastback or convertible, four-door sedan or station wagon, hardtop, and as a pickup, similar to the El Camino.
The Torino was actively raced in the NASCAR circuit. In 1969, Ford introduced the Torino Talladega. This limited-edition vehicle was given an aerodynamic body style which they then used on the NASCAR circuit.
In 1970 Ford introduced the Torino Cobra complete with a 428 cubic-inch Cobra Jet engine. Power was transferred to the rear wheels courtesy of a four-speed manual gearbox. The suspension was upgraded and a dual-exhaust unit added. Bucket seats continued the performance montage in the interior. A Traction-Lok limited-slip differential was optional. A 'shaker' hood scoop could be ordered as optional equipment which helped the engine breath at high speeds. The Torino Brougham version offered luxurious amenities which offered a sporty appearance and creature-comforts.
During the early 1970's, the Torino was updated giving it an aggressive look and modern appeal. For 1971, the look was all-new and good enough to capture Motor Trend's coveted 'Car of the Year' award. The GT version had hidden headlights, the only Torino to have such a design. For 1972, the grille was enlarged; vent windows were removed from four-door models and the convertible option was no longer offered. The abbreviation 'GT' was now labeled as Gran Torino.
Not only was 1971 through 1972 a big year for redesigns, the engine options saw drastic changes. In 1971 the Torino could be purchased with a wide range of engines that included a 351 Cleveland small-block and a Ford 429 cubic-inch engine. The performance could be further increased with the adoption of a Thunder Jet, Cobra Jet or Super Cobra Jet package. As government regulations and emissions standards were becoming stricter, the muscle car era was coming to an end. For 1972, only the 31 Cleveland eight-cylinder engine was available, however, still available in Cobra Jet configuration.
In 1973, to comply with government and safety regulations, the front end was given a larger bumper. This trend continued in 1974 when the front was modified to make the vehicle safer. The performance era had come to an end and consumers were expecting a new breed of vehicles which kept manufacturers struggling to meet these demands. The trend was shifting from larger, performance machines to fuel-efficient, safe, economical, and luxurious vehicles. This was true with the Torino which saw the performance options fade away from year-to-year, and more luxury offerings being presented.
The TV series 'Starsky and Hutch' drove a 1975 Gran Torino adorned in bright red colors and white body stripes.
In 1976 the production of the Torino ceased and replaced by the LTD.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2006
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