Piston Slap: The Shroud of Torino?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the shroud of torino

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…

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 sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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3 of 22 comments
  • Mikedt Mikedt on Aug 09, 2011

    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.

  • SPPPP SPPPP on Aug 09, 2011

    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.

    • Gator marco Gator marco on Aug 09, 2011

      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.

  • FreedMike Eighty grand...good lord. All for a truck I'm probably going to actually use once or twice as a truck.No thanks.
  • SCE to AUX Physically removing it from the cars they service tells me the company sees radar as some sort of hazard, despite their ability to disable it across the fleet via OTA updates. Creepy.
  • Art Vandelay So if it now actually costs less than the competition, where will the usual haters move the goalposts too now?
  • SCE to AUX Change "dog" to "child", and then tell me what mfr's lawyers will permit deployment of an autonomous vehicle.
  • Ravenuer I'd go with the Camry.