By on January 7, 2013

A full-on Malaise Era midsize Ford sedan has just about zero collector value, so the only way one can stay out of The Crusher’s jaws is to keep on running. Here’s one in Denver that finally gave up after 37 years.
The most famous Gran Torino these days is the ’72 driven by Clint Eastwood in film named after the car, but that was a sporty two-door. Likewise, the ’75 in Starsky and Hutch. Then there’s the ’72 Gran Torino wagon depicted in Robert Bechtle’s famous painting, Gran Torino Alameda. As for Gran Torino sedans, the closest thing to a famous example I can think of is the ’73 driven by The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Today’s Junkyard Find is about the closest thing to The Dude’s car that I’ve seen in many years.
This one is a bit battered and the interior is ugly, but I wouldn’t call it used up. It’s not rusty and all the major pieces are there, but who wants to spend any money to restore a ’75 Gran Torino sedan, or even keep one alive?
It will just make us all depressed, discussing the horsepower numbers of the 1975 351 Windsor engine. Torque was pretty good, and these cars weren’t as sluggish as you’d think.
I’ve always thought this era of Ford dog-dish hubcaps looked good.
We’ll be seeing the ’62 Valiant parked near this Ford in a future Junkyard Find.
With scrap cars going for $240/ton in Denver, the days are numbered for machines like this one.

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53 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1975 Ford Gran Torino...”


  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    That is a nice dog dish, but it belongs to a ’60 Fairlane. The dog dishes that a Gran Torino would have worn were color-keyed with a raised crest in the middle.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Don’t think I have ever seen one on the roads. Closest thing would be a 70′s LTD? Seems like IIRC they have a similar rear end.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      When this car was built, the LTD was a step up from the intermediate Gran Torino. Later in the decade Ford dropped the Torino name and called their intermetiate Torino-like sedan and coupe the LTD II.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Yes and no. The GranTorino body-on-frame replaced the Torino unibody. The GranTorino intermediate used a shrunken Galaxie/LTD full-size chassis. Later, the GranTorino was rebodied as the LTD-II. The LTD-II chassis was in turn shrunk (slightly) again to become the the Panther. This is a bit of over simplification, but it is the gist of the chronology that started with the 1965 rear coil sprung Galaxie.

      My family received someone’s decade old cast off, just like the one in the picture, but baby blue. It was a classic malaise era machine, except it was totally indestructable in the weird way that some Ford’s are (used to be?).

      Edit: Darn, danio3834 beat me to it.
      :-)

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I saw a Ford Elite a couple months ago. Had to be in running condition. Flat yellow paint was a little rough, but it was neatly parked on the street in the business district of a small town I was in, and the owner had covered the seats with multi colored blankets. It wasn’t dirty or rusty at all. The town I saw it in is the county seat of a very poor county, so I’d imagine that it probably belonged to gramaw or pawpaw and the family has kept driving it out of economic necessity.

      • 0 avatar
        ranwhenparked

        Probably the least remembered of all the ’70s personal luxocoupes, seriously, I think the Matador Coupe gets more press mentions than the Elite these days. Neat find.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    My Kindergarten teacher had one in the late 1970s only in a darker shade of 1970s S#*t brown. I only remember riding in it once when she packed all 7 or 8 of us little kids into it for a trip to one of the local swimming holes.

    As she lived in our neighbourhood, I saw a lot of that car. For some reason, I actually liked the look of it when I was younger. I guess it was more interesting than the Maverick my parents had at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I too really liked the style of 70′s vehicles as a kid (I still do). While my dad was interested in muscle cars like the Charger, and pony cars like the Javelin, he could never understand my affection for the revived Mark coupes, glamor T-birds, fuselage Mopar C-bodes, or Monte Carlos.

      I remember in the late 80s/early 90′s his boss had a small collection of mint condition, low mileage late 70′s opulence rides sitting under cover in the aircraft hangar. A silver Mark V, a banana cream yellow Eldorado, a Collector Series Continental Town Car with the gold grille and a Rolls Silver Shadow. All had under 15,000 miles.

      There they sat, only being driven around the airport taxiway to keep the batteries charged and fluids circulated. I constantly tryed to persuade my father to buy one of them as it was clear they weren’t going anywhere.

      Eventually one day, a wholesaler came in and bought all four for pennies on the dollar and they were gone. Whenever he recounts the memories for those vehicles, he admits he should have at least bought one of them, if only as a sunday cruiser.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Coworker of mine had an early 80′s Crown Vic in that ubiquitous turd brown shade of Ford paint. Called it “The Murder Wagon” because animals routinely sacrificed themselves too it by wandering in front of him. Birds, possums, too many squirrels to count and even a juvenile razorback hog.

  • avatar
    dutch45810

    There was a 75 Gran Torino wagon still operating in my hometown (NW Ohio) up until a few years ago. It held up surprisingly well…not sure what happened to it. Back then, I preferred it to the string of late-70′s Country Squires my parents had.

    First thing I thought of when seeing this one was “The Dude”. The cigarette burns on the seat between driver’s legs are a nice touch.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Yep, this is pretty much the stereotypical ’70s domestic shitbox. The kind of car you set on fire rather than attempt to repair.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Never was good but a real sumbitch to kill. About as sophisticated as an anvil. God I hated these things!

  • avatar
    gkhize

    Dude! Was the Creedence still in there?

  • avatar
    Ted Grant

    I had a seven passenger wagon in the same color. It was a cheap winter beater but served me well until it developed low oil pressure at idle. Never did trust it after that but it was a fun car. Other drivers gave me respect since they realized they would certainly lose in a duel. It had the timeless dried out vinyl woodgrain panels that I spruced up with a can of wood stain and a rag. I got almost two years of service with it and fondly remember driving my two ton urban assault vehicle…

  • avatar
    cfclark

    My parents had a stripper ’73 Torino (not even Gran) wagon for several years. Might be the worst car they ever had. It actually threw a rod one Mother’s Day morning as we were taking my mom to brunch. I don’t know if my dad has ever seen ‘Gran Torino’, but he would probably laugh his ass off at the idea of anyone collecting any car with the name “Torino” (Starsky & Hutch notwithstanding), let alone making a movie about it. He’d say crush it, and soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      @cfclark,actually there are a few Torinos that are collectible, mainly the older 428 CJ,and the later 351 CJ and 429 CJ models. The one used in the movie Gran Torino happens to be a 72 with the 351 CJ, guess what? It’s a collectible.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Had a 1976 dark racing-green Ford Torino with black, white, & red hounds tooth cloth upholstery.
    Was a great car. Loved it. But the “C4″ transmission kept burning up – think we replaced it 3 times.
    Otherwise the 351 Windsor V-8 was great for doing Starsky and Hutch maneuvers.
    Car lasted about 100K miles, then rusted through badly in upstate NY. Had to install plywood to replace the floor boards.
    And the air-injector pump that was part of the pollution control system froze up at about 20K miles, but didn’t really care about that anyway. Car got about 18 mpg on the highway, but gas was about $.75/gallon.

    —————

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “But the “C4″ transmission kept burning up – think we replaced it 3 times.
      Otherwise the 351 Windsor V-8 was great for doing Starsky and Hutch maneuvers.”

      Are those two things related?

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    That’s not a 62 Valiant. 60 and 61 models had the cat eye slanted taillights. 62 lights were round below the fin.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Far more interesting car, the Valiant. It took Americans years to discover how superior the Mopar twins were to the contemporary Ford and GM products.

      The Ford was huge on the outside and small on the inside and in contrast with the Torqueflite, the Ford automatic was junk.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The Valiant was initially hobbled by some bad decisions made by Chrysler.

        The first-generation Valiant (and Lancer) were handicapped by the worst build quality of the domestic compacts and the bizarre, Virgil Exner styling (which I like now, but would not have bought at the time). The Valiant’s slant six, lighter Torqueflite and new chassis, however, earned universal praise upon the car’s introduction.

        The Valiant was also hurt by Chrysler’s refusal to brand it as a Plymouth for 1960, even though it was sold through franchises that also carried Plymouth. Buyers may have been confused as to where they were supposed to buy this new car. It didn’t help that, for 1960, Chrysler took its Plymouth franchises away from Dodge dealers. Undoubtedly many people curious about the car went to what had been their friendly Dodge-Plymouth dealer, only to find that the car wasn’t sold there. Few Dodge dealers were inclined to send potential customers to another dealer.

        For 1963, Chrysler dramatically improved the build quality of the new Valiant (and Dart, which replaced the Lancer) and gave it much more attractive styling. By then, the car was also sold as a Plymouth. Sales scored a healthy increase.

        Once Chrysler addressed these issues, buyers responded accordingly.

        As for the quality of Ford’s automatic versus Torqueflite – I don’t seem to remember any domestic having consistent troubles related to automatic transmissions in the early 1970s. Chrysler’s Torqueflite was a great transmission, but quality control at Chrysler was virtually non-existent during throughout most of the 1970s. If you got a good one, great – you got the best automatic in the business. But too many people weren’t getting good ones.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        You don’t know what you are talking about regarding the transmissions. The torqueflite had an extremely low failure rate throughout it’s production run, especially the big 727. Body and interior build quality had no relation whatsoever to the engines and drivelines.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Chrysler had a reputation for uneven mechanical reliability that went beyond sloppy workmanship and cheap interiors.

        You might find it helpful to take off the Mopar-colored glasses when looking at history. I said that the basic transmission DESIGN was great (reread my post – I said it was the best in the business in that regard), but Chrysler didn’t always ensure that it was built with good quality parts. In this, it was hardly alone among Detroit companies in the 1970s. But it’s a fact that “Chrysler quality control” was an oxymoron in the 1970s.

        There was a good reason that Chrysler was bankrupt by 1980 (and almost went under in 1974-75), and it wasn’t because people were too dumb to realize how wonderful its cars really were.

        Incidentally, my parents had a 1973 AMC Gremlin with a Chrysler Torqueflite transmission. At less than 70,000 miles, it no longer “caught” when shifted into park the first time. Or was Chrysler only sending the bad ones to AMC?

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Again you don’t know what you are talking about, Geeber. Chrysler going bankrupt had nothing to do with their engines or drivelines.
        Regarding your Gremlin, the reason that it wouldn’t catch in park had nothing to do with it’s torqueflite trans. Your linkage was out of adjustment, the linkage used on AMC cars was their own design, by the way, and was very easy to adjust. BTW I have been rebuilding automatics since age 16, would you like for me to teach you about them?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Chrysler going bankrupt in the late 1970s had absolutely nothing to do with uneven quality of its components, including drivetrains? Really? Thanks for today’s chuckle.

        Your mechanical apptitude is certainly admirable, but it only proves what I’ve noticed many times – mainly, that such people are not necessarily a good judge of comparing the reliability and quality of various brands. They tend to minimize quality problems with their favorite brands – VW, BMW and Chrysler enthusiasts tend to be the worst – because they know how to fix things themselves. Thus, they ignore or minimize problems. The average person does not have this ability, and has a much lower tolerence for problems.

        Hence, Chrysler’s brush with bankrupty in 1974-75, and need for a government bailout in 1980.

        You need to spend some time with people who actually understand what reliability and quality mean to the average customer (and why Chrysler Corporation vehicles, unfortunately, didn’t have it often enough).

        For the third time, I’ve said that Chrysler had good drivetrains, and the best automatic in the business, but the company had serious problems with uneven quality. I have not said that Chrysler’s engineering was poor, only that it had serious problems with poor quality control. The typical customer does not know or care about the difference – he or she only knows that the car keeps needing repairs.

        This could be traced to the lousy conditions of its plants by the 1970s, as Chrysler Corporation chief Lynn Townsend was not investing enough in the company, along with the infamous Sales Bank and no real effort at quality control.

        You can argue that point if you want, but you’re wrong. Your mechanical abilities don’t give you a license to rewrite history.

        I’ll tell you what – you give me YOUR reasons as to why Chrysler Corporation almost went bankrupt in 1974-75, and why it needed a government bailout by 1980 to stay in business.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        Like I said before, you are the biggest armchair expert here. It’s pretty sad when someone had an AMC product, which is a model of simplicity, and they don’t even know how to adjust a transmission linkage. Listen, Goober, no, wait, at least Goober knew about cars, never mind. LOL

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It reall is too bad that your mechanical aptitude hasn’t translated into knowledge of the automobile industry or how customers measure quality.

        I’ll take your dodge of the question as an “I don’t know” on your part, or else a realization that the usual screed blaming Toyota, the yen, Consumer Reports and the other favorite whipping boys of the domestic apologists won’t work here.

        Although one hopes and prays that no one is stupid enough to drag out those old chestnuts to explain Chrysler’s near-demise in the 1970s.

        You are obviously admitting that Chrysler did have a problem with uneven quality among all components, including its drivetrains, as you haven’t answered my question.

        If you want to try again, I’ll repost it for your convenience:

        You give me YOUR reasons as to why Chrysler Corporation almost went bankrupt in 1974-75, and why it needed a government bailout by 1980 to stay in business.

        In the meantime, like many fanboys, you need to learn that you’re going to have to be a whole lot more well-informed if you want to rewrite history.

        If want my transmission fixed, I’ll give you a call. If I want an accurate comparison of reliability among various manufacturers then and now, or an understanding of how customers measure quality, I’ll apparently have to look elsehwere.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        I never denied that chrysler had problems in the 70′s, that is a fact that can’t be refuted. Sloppy assembly and workmanship? Yep. 76-79 Lean Burn distributors that went 50k miles if you were lucky? Yep.Faulty carbs on the late 70′slant 6? Yep. F bodies with enough problems to fill a phone book? For sure :)

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Moparman, thank you for the reply.

        You know, the sad part of this unfortunate exchange is that, prior to it, I enjoyed reading your take on what you discovered as a mechanic working on various makes. Your posts were interesting to read. If I’ve insulted your chosen career in this exchange, please accept my apologies.

        I don’t think that anyone will deny that Chrysler had serious problems in the 1970s. When the company was firing on all cylinders, it was great, but following its history is like riding a roller coaster.

        I still believe that while Lynn Townsend helped save the company in 1961-62, he ultimately ran it into the ground in the 1970s. Any company that could produce the Torqueflite, slant six, 340 V-8, 440 V-8 and Hemi obviously had a deep pool of engineering talent. Too bad that poor management ultimately meant that too many customers decided to pass up the company’s vehicles in favor of those of the competition.

        And for the record, not only could Goober work on cars, but in real life the actor who played him was smart enough to parlay that one character into a life-long career, so I don’t mind the reference at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparman426W

        I’m not a mechanic, I am a roofer by trade that also heppens to be a car guy with a great passion for my hobby. When I was growing up car guys learned to work on cars before they were old enough to drive them.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I’ll wager that this was a time when each car didn’t have more computer systems than the Space Shuttle and you didn’t need an advanced degree in computer science to work on a car.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Looks like the car that almost every cop drove on “Police Story” and other TV detective shows.

  • avatar
    Irish

    My first car was a 1973 Gran Torino, gold glow with vinyl top. Drove that car through high school, college, and first five years of marriage. I added era-correct pioneer 8-track, Jensen speakers front and rear, and the requisite sheepskin seat covers. Body repairs due to rust and a total repaint kept it looking reasonably good. As I recall, the car had some juice as well. Traded it in 1987 for a Pittsburgh VW Rabbit Wolfsburg edition. Should have kept the Torino….

  • avatar
    NewsLynne

    I like it better than the Grenada and that’s saying something.

    I was watching the Carol Burnett Show the other day and laughing my ass off. It still seems so fresh and funny.

    The episode I watched was from 1975. This is the car people were driving. Suddenly that time seems so long ago again.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    70′s ear sedans make great daily beaters. Ones in good solid shape can be picked up for a few grand or less, and they’re cheap to keep running for the (going extinct) DIY’r. Plus, if you’re feeling crazy, a 400hp V8 swap is only a few grand away.

    I have a 78′ Malibu sedan I drive to keep miles off our news cars. Super cheap to keep running, nice solid ride, and as a bonus most people tend to stay out of your way.

    • 0 avatar
      Moparman426W

      AMC, that 351W could be rebuilt to make over 400HP for around 3k or less.

    • 0 avatar
      mechimike

      Problem is, there’s lots of cars you can pick up for a few grand or less that are just as cheap to keep running and get 2x the fuel economy. E.g.: pretty much any early 90′s Japanese car. I love me some old 70′s barges, but there’s absolutely nothing practical about them as a DD. You drive one because you want to- if cheap transportation is your mantra, even as a DIY’r, you look elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        You’d have to want the comfort or style because they certainly don’t do anything a mid 90′s Oldsmobile with a 3800 couldn’t do while getting least 10mpg better.

        10 years ago I used to daily a 70′s land yacht. It was fairly practical as parts are dirt cheap, but nowadays fuel isn’t. It would be about as practical as driving a full size pickup, which a lot of people do. Preferences I suppose.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    This resurfaced a bad memory. My freshman year at college my roommate gave me a ride home a Torino that looked just like this one. It was full of empty beer cans, fast food trash, overflowing butts and ashes, but my favorite part was the huge tree log he had jammed behind the back seat. The floor was rusted out so when you leaned back the seat would tip over, the log prevented you flipping over.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Never was a big fan of these intermediate Fords of this time era. Maybe that was because dad chose a brown 4 door 1974 Malibu Classic over the Ford back in the day. There were also two neighbors down the street that had coupes of 1976 and 1977 vintage in brown and light blue colors. Dad and the guy with the 76 got 350 V8′s but the older lady ordered hers with the 305. Hardly great cars but all 3 lasted there owners for years and seemed relatively reliable for the time.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    My brother-in-law had a Gran Torino of the same body style, either ’75 or ’76 (not sure). Baby blue … when it was new. But this was the era of the “rusty Ford”. When that car started showing the signs, when it was only three or four years old, he ended up getting a good deal on another craptastic car … a Granada.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Torino of this vintage on the roads around here.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    From the days when dealers would attack your new car with a drill and sheet metal screws to affix their dealership name to the trunk lid.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Wasn’t Ford on to the 351M at this point?

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Get off my lawn….

  • avatar
    1st_one

    A quick google search shows that Sill-Terhar Ford is still in business. Amazing!!!!!

  • avatar
    occupant

    MOTHER OF GOD.

    I need those bumper guard rub strips…and I wouldn’t say no to a lot of the exterior trim.

    It appears this has a dash pad with some sort of sewn on vinyl cover. The Lincoln Mark V’s has a leather dash pad but they’re a different shape, won’t fit the 72-76 cars or other 77-79 intermediates. That’s what these are. They aren’t mid-size cars, they’re intermediates. As in halfway between bloated 3400lb compact Granadas and beyond obese 4700lb full size cars.

    WHERE IN DENVER ARE THESE TWO CARS, I WOULD RISK A DIVORCE SO I COULD GET UP THERE AND PULL BITS FOR A DAY OR TWO???

  • avatar
    CWN

    does anyone where you can find parts for the 75 grand trino? looking for the rear fender trim.


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