Car of the Year Revisionism, 1970 Edition: If Not the Torino, What?

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
car of the year revisionism 1970 edition if not the torino what

Having just spent a weekend officiating at a race with one of the perpetrators of the latest Motor Trend Car of the Year choice, I got to thinking about past controversial COTY choices… and what choices we might make today, with the benefit of hindsight. Second-guessing the 1971 and 1983 choices is fish-in-a-barrel stuff (though I think the very radical-for-Detroit Vega deserved the award in spite of its terrible execution), but you can find tough choices all the way back to 1949. Today we’re going to talk about 1970’s Car of the Year winner: the Ford Torino.

The Torino wasn’t a fundamentally new car for 1970 (though it did get a sheetmetal redesign and a longer and wider chassis than its predecessor), and it didn’t break any new technological ground. It was a good-looking machine, to be sure, and it could be had with a mighty 375-horse 429-cubic-inch engine, but did it deserve the award? If not, what new or “substantially upgraded” 1970 car would you choose, were you to go back in time equipped with Svengali-grade hypnotic powers to change the minds of the MT War Council? To make things more interesting, we might revise the rules to allow imports to be considered for the purposes of this debate (the Porsche 914 won the Motor Trend Import Car of the Year Award in ’70, by the way), but that’s up to you. The AMC Hornet? The second-generation GM F-body? The Saab Sonett III? Discuss.

Image source: Old Car Brochures

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  • Budda-Boom Budda-Boom on Dec 08, 2011

    To reset. MT's COTY in those days was domestic only, an Import COTY came along somewhere in there, dunno the year... Also, the obvious choice - the GM F-body - hit showrooms Feb '70, after the COTY issue was published. Barring that, the Torino was probably most correct.

  • 70Cougar 70Cougar on Dec 08, 2011


  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.
  • Wjtinfwb I've seen worse on the highways around Atlanta, usually with a refrigerator or washer wedged into the trunk and secured with recycled twine...
  • Wjtinfwb Surprising EB Flex hasn't weighed in yet on it being the subject of a recall...