By on August 8, 2011

The Torino in Question.


Jeramy writes:

Here’s my dilemma: Bought a 1983 5.0 Cougar for my wife as her “weekend” car, but the TBI was problematic and the seats were terribly uncomfortable. Dumped the Cougar, and bought a loaded 1985 F-150 with 5.0 and power everything, then sprayed it in Mustang Redfire Metallic red, but she wanted something more “sporty.”

So I traded the pickup for a 1971 Torino coupe with a 351W and 3 speed auto (pictured here).

I’ve since upgraded it to power steering, but she still insists it’s hard to drive. I do have most of the parts to convert it to power disc brakes (it has manual drums), but I get the feeling that no matter what I do, it’s still going handle like a 40-year-old car. It gets driven less than 300 miles a year. I already have two other project cars in pieces, an ’83 CJ7 and a 1970 Torino Cobra, plus two reliable daily drivers. On the one hand, I’m tempted to just drive the ’71 Torino through the summer myself, except for the gas mileage. I don’t think I could realistically sell it for more than $5000, especially in the weak collector-car market, and to be honest I’ve been reluctant to sell it because I can use it as reference for reassembling my Cobra. On the other hand, it’s literally become a shelf in the garage.

My wife would love a new Mustang or maybe a Miata, and given my history in picking vehicles for her, it’s way past time to let her decide on the next one. So the question is, what do I do with the ’71 Torino?

Sajeev answers:

Funny you mentioned 1983 Fox Bodies and their trouble prone (EEC-III) EFI system, I just spent a few hours in the brutal heat removing that particular electro-vacuum nightmare from my 1983 Lincoln Continental.  Not that anyone really cares, just know that I understand where you’re coming from.

I know chronically single men (like yours truly) are pretty frickin’ oblivious to the dynamics of a healthy marriage, but weekend toy or not, did you really put your wife into three different project cars of dubious appeal?  Certainly appealing to me and you…but you catch my drift.

Having an assembled reference point for your Cobra project is good, especially since now is not the time to sell any classic machine, especially an especially not-unique, especially not-muscular Torino. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you can get $5000 for it, unless the interior is factory fresh and you find the right buyer. Speaking of…

Holy Cyclone, Batman!

You can make a 1971 Torino drive very much like a new car. That I do know.  Because, along with all of my brother’s insane vehicular exploits elsewhere on TTAC, he has a restomod 1970 Mercury Cyclone GT.  Yes, the purists are freaking out over that pedestrian Montego grille, but the change was out of respect to our parent’s former 1970 Montego in the same color.  Which explains how and why the Cyclone is a resto-mod of passion: nobody in their right mind would buy it for anywhere near the money in it.  Which is commonplace in the restomod business, unless it’s a C2/Midyear Corvette with a heavy dose of LS1-FTW.

You can do a Heidts front and rear suspension, EFI Windsor V8 swap, late model gearbox, big wheels/brakes and modern HVAC/Stereo/sound insulation to make a Torino a rather awesome daily driver, but you better not.  Sit on it and hope the economy gets better in the next coupla years.

Send your queries to [email protected]. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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22 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Shroud of Torino?...”

  • avatar

    seriously? wouldnt it have been a cheaper and less frustrating to let her test drive the cars you are deciding to buy ‘for her’?

    ok, so i know you got that already: “it’s way past time to let her decide on the next one.” But, really, why is it that so many guys, especially piston-head types think that they know better what their wife wants to drive than the wife does?

    what i am saying is different than the actual negotiating. When it comes time to close the deal – especially if at a dealer, it seems like it is better for the husband to do the negotiating, even if he know next to nothing about cars.

    • 0 avatar

      When it was time to sell my wife’s ’02 Sebring (with the awful 2.7 liter v6, she came with that car, not my decision), we sat down and talked about what to replace it with. She wanted a 300, I didn’t. We looked at Crossfire SRT-6s, and GTOs, and due to my influence, I ended up flying from Louisiana to California to pick up a modded 6-speed Cosmos GTO for her. Great three-day trip back, getting to know that car, and it was fun teaching her how to drive a stick on a car making 400hp at the wheels. Buying the GTO was mostly my doing, so this time around, it’s all on my wife to pick what we’re buying, other than me giving advice on what will be reliable (ie. no more Chrysler 2.7l). Downside is how much she’s bounced around on what she wants as a family car. She’s, in this order, wanted a Jeep Commander, Chevy Avalanche, Trailblazer SS, Saab 9-3, the Avalanche again, and a Dodge Ram. I was hoping to keep her on the Saab, but then she hopped into her friend’s Ram. We’re getting what she wants, since it’s going to be her vehicle, but sometimes I wish I could just decide for us and be done with it. I have a feeling that no matter what we end up with in our driveway, she’ll still look longingly at the other vehicles we didn’t get, and I’ll look longingly at my car as she drives away with the new owner, as we sell her to help finance my wife’s new ride. Upside is, even though I’ll be selling my Trans Am, I get the GTO…

      I guess what I’m trying to say, in my incredibly long post is, sometimes we think we know what’s best for our significant other, when in reality, we’re just seeing our own personal desires as what we think they want.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yeah let her decide, Amigo. I’m amazed you didn’t come to that conclusion long ago. (Although I’m stuck by the fact that my own father (who is only 56 yrs old) picks out the “family car” that then my mother drives 90% of the time while he drives his employer supplied vehicle.)

    Sell the Torino to me after you get your Cobra version finished – just have the project done by say August of 2012. Think you can be finished in a year? But I’m still not gonna give you more than about $5000. (Give or take.)

  • avatar

    What can I say? Don’t make personal decisions for your wife as to what she’ll drive! I let my wife choose our (her) 2002 CR-V, and I don’t hear a peep out of her!

    If that Torino was a Chevelle, I’d be interested. Whatever, take care of it, as pillarless hardtops are gettin’ mighty scarce, and I doubt you’ll see their likes again, although I hope!

    Educator Dan; I’m struck by the fact that I’m 4 years older than your dad!

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And I’m struck by the fact although my dad should be from an era of slightly more refined men – that is one decision he still makes in a “Ward Cleever” sort of way. (Example, he’s had more RWD family cars than FWD family cars. My mother prefers FWD because of the snow traction factor. His solution? He went out and bought her a 4wd SUV.)

  • avatar

    My first car was a ’72 Gran Torino (351W/C6 combo)so I understand the appeal, but picking your wife’s car for her? Just say no. You’re already overloaded on projects so sell it and think of it as a learning experience. Somebody out there will give the Torino the attention you can’t.

  • avatar

    I’ve always chosen my wife’s car. She’s not picky, as long as it starts and gets her where she’s going. Therefore, she my sustained interest in cars continues to mystify her.

    As for the Torino, I’m a big fan of that model. I’d suggest selling it this fall, and put the money into one of your anticipated purchases – don’t wait around while you only semi-enjoy driving those 300 miles a year. There is no guarantee you’ll get more for it in a couple of years, especially with a 351W/3spd.

    Time to learn… and live.

  • avatar

    If you have the space,and the cash, keep the Torino. Who knows where the collector market will go? The reference, for the reassmble on the Cobra,is reason enough.

    My wife refused to part company with her 03 Jimmy. However she was really big on buying a Mustang convert.

    So, I pick up a gently used Stang. Wifey loves it. Within a month she tells me “with both of us retired,why do we need three cars”?

    Why indeed.

    The new owner really likes our old Jimmy. Though he tells me “its a pig on gas”….who knew?

    I better submit this before she has a chance to read it.

  • avatar

    It’s hard to see the market significantly improving for the Torino. The decision on what to do with it hinges simply on space and cash. If you need either the space or the cash that the Torino represents, go ahead and sell it now. If you don’t need to free up the space and cash, go ahead and keep it, but you’ve got to finish at least one of the other project cars before you even think about another project.

    One other possible option would be to let the wife pick her own project car for you to work on while she continues to drive the Torino. Just make sure that it’s a simple project, because if she’s anything like most women I know, she will not let you rest until her project is ready to drive.

  • avatar

    I find it is useful to guide my wife’s vehicular choices, as she knows very little about cars. When it was time to get our minivan, I narrowed the choice down to the Odyssey or the Sienna pretty quickly, with a definite thumb on the scale for the Odyssey. She got to “pick” between the two, but the case for the Odyssey was presented much stronger. She got to pick the color because it’s her car and who really cares at that point? That was the most important decision she wanted to make anyway.

    Seriously, some of you married guys haven’t figured out that the secret to winning at marriage is to let them think that they made the decision after you have nurtured and grown the seed of the correct decision in their minds for so long that all other options seem to lead towards disaster? That’s “Underhanded Male Relationship Practices 101.”

    I mean, you guys are trying to win your marriages, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      “DUH, WINNING!” – Charlie Sheen

      Sorry but to me “winning” is being with a woman who laughs just as hard as I do at Top Gear. Winning is being with a woman who is smart enough to make her own vehicular choices but also smart enough to ask advice if and when she needs it. Winning is accepting each other for who we are. Winning is finding a woman compatible with you in every way you can imagine.

    • 0 avatar

      And you do realize that your wife has been working that same program on you, just more discreetly? Take a look at your wardrobe. How many of those items are things that you would have chosen yourself?

      The secret to winning at marriage is to not keep score.

    • 0 avatar

      That sounds how I deal with my boss. My work-boss, I mean, not my home-boss. I make sure he has the right answers before I ask the questions, and let him lead us triumphantly in the right direction.

    • 0 avatar

      My idea of winning with my wife is when she says she wants a truck, we get the diesel instead of the little v6 base model. But still letting her pick the truck.

  • avatar

    What, no one has ever heard of the Monte1Go?

  • avatar

    Sajeev, how about a writeup on that bad a$$ Torino of your brothers???

    • 0 avatar

      @mnm4ever: the car in the pix is a Mercury Cyclone. I’ve wanted one since I was 10 years old.

      But, to the point: DO AN ARTICLE ON THE MERC! Pretty please? :^))

  • avatar

    She drives 300 miles a year? A Year? Why does she even need a car? Unless she saves all 300 miles for a single weekend get her a bicycle or an adult tricycle.

  • avatar

    Ok, hold the phone. Your wife actually put up with manual brakes for more than one drive? And she was even using manual steering before that?

    What that means is, regardless of what you do with the Torino, HOLD ON TO THAT WIFE. You will not find a more patient woman than that.

    Back to the car … figure out the power brakes. Seriously. Then see how she feels about it.

    • 0 avatar
      gator marco

      SP – you got that right. Hold on to a wife like that.

      Yup, upgrade to power brakes. And solid A/C would also go a long way towards domestic bliss. Can’t see much market for plain jane Torino anytime soon.

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