The Ford Elite was produced from 1974 through 1976. It was a two-door coupe based on the Ford Torino and powered by an eight-cylinder engine in various sizes. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a three-speed automatic gearbox. Disc brakes were in the front and drums in the rear. Power steering, cloth bench seat, and a 351 cubic-inch V8 engine was standard. A 402 and 460 cubic-inch V8 engine were optional, as was the power glass moonroof and power steel sunroof. Air conditioning, cruise control and Metallic Glow paint were also optional.
The cost to own was around $4720 in 1975; production reached 123,372 in 1975. The year prior, 96,604 were produced.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2007
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 different 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 breathe 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 that 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
Introduced in 1974, the Ford Elite was produced for the North American market until 1976. Based on Ford's Torino, the Elite was a two-door coupe that was a much more affordable personal luxury vehicle in comparison to the Thunderbird. It was intended to compete with the Chrysler Cordoba and the Chevy Monte Carlo. Basically, the Elite was a concurrent Mercury Cougar XR-7 with just a minor front end restyle. The Elite was offered during the beginning of the 'personal luxury' car craze that began during this time period.
A sub-model of the Torino, the Elite was advertised on its own with the side script saying 'Gran Torino Elite' and model would be both titled and registered as a Gran Torino. From 1975 through 1976 the Elite was finally its own full model and it featured the 'Elite' side script. The Elite was a very popular car in its own right and sold very well in all three production years.
The Gran Torino Elite featured all of the requisite features like the stand-up hood ornament, rear quarter opera windows, landau vinyl roof and many other period features. The standard engine in the vehicle was the 5.8L V8, and the 6.6L and 7.5L V8's engines as optional. The only transmission available was a 3-speed and a column-shift with a front bench seat or a console-mounted shift with buckets could be purchased as optional. On all models including the base was full instrumentation that included a tachometer.
By Jessica Donaldson
There were basically no changes for 1976 other than a few colors and the catalytic converter becoming standard on a few models, depending on where the model was sold. The Ford range was completely restructured and downsized and the Elite name was dropped from the line after 1976. Unfortunately the Elite was a short-lived model and the Thunderbird was reduced in size and price drastically for the 1977 model year, and moved to the old Torino platform. The Torino was replaced by the LTD II. Continuing under the more-popular Thunderbird name, the larger Elite was discontinued.