Hi. I recently saw the new Starsky & Hutch movie and fell in love with
the Gran Torino. Ever since, I have been doing plenty of research on
the car. I was wondering if anyone could tell me what they think of
the car. I am looking at the 74 Gran Torino Sport. Is it a good
everyday driver? How does it handle? Is it a good car? I was also
wondering what models were avaliable, what options for the car were
avaliable, and what were the specifications for the car? Was the Gran
Torino Sport prone to any problems? I heard the undercarriage rusted
easily due to cheap steel. ANY info at all on this car would be
GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!
i had a 73 Grand torino, not a sport, but it had a 302 cu. in engine,
automatic trans, power steering, a/c cloth seats... a lime green color,
with dark green interior, it was a nice car for the time.. i bought it
new in 73, about two weeks later the cost of gas went from about 35
cents per gallon to 79 cents a gallon.. the mileage was terrible(all 73
model cars had terrible milege as they were just getting into putting
more pollution control stuff on the cars... next thing i know gas is
$1.00 per gallon and i get about 9 mile per gallon....the body on the
car got to be a rust bucket.. i would remove the rust from the rear
window and rear fender tail light area and fill it up with bondo, and it
would just come back.... it rode nice and was similar to sitting in a
early 90's taurus....(full size taurus).. even with a 302 engine this
car would move out real fast.... it was alot easier to tuneup and get
this car in timing right....everything was still pretty simple(no
firstname.lastname@example.org (Gary G.) wrote in
They were almost as heavy as the full size cars, but because they were
"intermediates" often had light duty running gear like small brake rotors,
C-4 trannys and 8" rear ends. I wouldn't have one unless it had a 460/C-
6/9" rear end, and then I'd wonder why I had an "intermediate" sized car
when I could have the same running gear (and more room) in a full sized
There were a few special Torinos, like the '71 fastback, but most were non
descript. The one Starsky and Hutch drove looked fat and awkward in real
life. I know - a guy who lives up the street has one, except his is green.
The one advantage of them is that they are a full framed car, not a
unibody. The ride was squishy and the handling matched. There is a lot you
can do to them to hop them up/improve them.
FYI: More info on the 1976 Ford Gran Torino (460 V8) featured in the
television show "Starsky and Hutch" can be found @
Yet another $.02 worth from a proud owner of a 1970 Mach 1 351C @
FYI: Information regarding at least six of the cars used in the TV series
"Starsky and Hutch" is @ http://starskytorino.com/index.html
Apparently cars were used with differing engine types. Some contained 460
CID engines and others contained 351C engines.
Yet another $.02 worth from a proud owner of a 1970 Mach 1 351C @
The 1974 Torino chassis first debut in 1972. This was an all-new design
that differed greatly from the Torino/Fairlanes from 1971 and before. It
has a full frame and trailing arm/coil spring rear suspension. There were
many trim options available. The basic (low) model was simply Torino. In
1972 and 1973 this mean't a simple, full width eggcrate grill and little
trim. The high model was the Gran Torino. A performance-inspired version
was the Sport, which could be had in either coupe or fastback designs. By
1974, the fastback was gone.
I have owned three 1973 Gran Torino Sports, one 1972 GTS, one 1973 Ranchero
GT (built on the Torino station wagon frame) and one 1973 Montego MX fordor.
The 1974 Torino engine lineup started with the 302 V8. There was a 240 six
in 1973 that was standard in the low models, I really do not know for sure
if it was an option in 1974. In fact, I am not sure if there was a low/high
model system in 1974. At any rate, you will be wanting a Gran Torino for
the right look.
Back to engines, the 302 was standard. The 351 2V was next, and could be
either a Cleveland or a Windsor. Sometimes the trans with the 351 was a C4,
sometimes it was an FMX (the old Borg Warner trans, good trans). Sometimes,
especially if a towing option was selected, the C6 was fitted. The next
optional engine was the Q-code 351-4V. This was the last year for that
engine, which was called the Cobra Jet when it was introduced in 1971.
Basically the same as 1971, it had been changed for emissions by lowered
compression (dished pistons), retarded cam timing, reduced valve sizes (2V
size valves in the 4V style heads), EGR and other controls. A good engine
when given a chance. The Q-code option got you a C6 trans with high-stall
convertor and at least a 3.25 rear end. 1973 was the last year of the four
speed option with the Q-code.
The 400-2V was the next engine option. This came with a C6. While never
offered in any kind of factory performance versions, the 400 is a real stump
puller when given some induction mods. Finally, the 429-4V was an option.
The cops could get a PI version.
The 302s often came with 8" rear ends, but the 351s and up got the 9".
Traction Lok was an option. A handling suspension option was also
Many trim options were available. Dearborn was getting crazy with the
options. 1974 was the first year of the Torino Elite, a luxury option.
Good if you are going for the Huggy look. The Sport models got special
molded door panels and bucket seats were an option.
The Torinos were usually around 3800-4200 lbs, depending on options. If you
work at it, you can shave off some tonnage.
These cars drive great. They go where you point them, and if you push to
hard they plow like any American mid-size. They respond well to suspension
mods. I have spent many, many hours crusing highways in these cars, and
they are very comfortable. The power steering is light, maybe too light. I
kinda prefer the feel of the late model Crown Vics, but you will get used to
it. If the car is heavy, like my Montego, the front rotors are apt to warp.
However I never had that problem with my GT Sports.
Electrical is simple, and usually not a problem. The body and chassis is
not prone to rust, and Ford has some excellent rust prevention methods.
But, if you live in an area that is damp, it will likely rust around the
rear wheel wells, and the lower rear quarters. If the car has a vinyl roof,
look for rust there and along the rear window and trunk floor. As for the
frame, I dunno. I don't live where they use road salt. Unless salt is
involved, or the car is from the coast, you will not see frame rot.
If you like the car, get to crawling around some of the more mature
neighborhoods around you. Many older folks still have theirs, and they will
be a better basis for your project than some clapped out example.
The 1974 Torino is just a damn fine car.
BTW, the original show cars were mostly 351 and 400 powered. The "car", the
character in the show as played by several cars, had a "balanced and
blueprinted 351 Cleveland" according to the character Starskey. This was
revealed in the episode where his engine was stolen and he had to make a
police report and, worse, had to ride in Hutch's ugly LTD.
The base engine in 1974 was still the 250 cid I-6.
The 240 is a high deck truck engine. The 250 cid I-6 was in very
limited supply for the 1973 model year in the rather large Torino series
due to a UAW strike at one of the engine plants. Most Torinos ordered
with the 250 came delivered with the 302, the sixes went to Mavericks
and Comets, but there were a lot of 302s in those cars too in 1973.
Last year for the 429 was 1973. The 460 was available 1974-1976.
I agree. Had 2 '73's and a '76. Also, note to the OP, the chassis
continued on with sheet metal changes as the 77-79 Thunderbird, 77-79
LTD II, 77-79 Ranchero, & 77-79 Cougar, as well as the 74-76 Montego,
Cougar, & Elite (as you mentioned).
I remember that. The cars used for TV, it seemed, handled pretty
poorly, but it was pretty dramatic how the drivers threw them around
corners and locked up the brakes all the time. They could be wildly
oversteering in one shot, and suffering major understeer "plowing" in
the next. Such was the basic mid-size Ford platform of the time. My
Torinos took well to Addco Sway Bars, urethane bushings, top-of-the-line
gas shocks, & Moog Cargo-Coils in the rear. Made a big difference -
very neutral and predictable handling even with that no-feedback power
steering you described.
Thanks a lot for the posts! Very imformative. One of my more major
concerns about the Gran Torino Sport are rust. I live in Ohio and we
use a lot of road salt in the winter. I am planning on getting a
Torino and keeping it for a while. Should I be worried about it
rusting out? If you were to get a 74 Gran Torino Sport, what sort of
engine would you recommend for everyday driving? Another question. how
are they on gas? Thanks!
Rust is ALWAYS a concern. Torino, late model Tbird, Radio Flyer wagon.
Keep it covered and dry. Look for a rust-free example. Get one out of
state if you must. If this is gonna be a daily driver, you will wear it out
if some SUV does not run a light and total it. That's just the nature of
the beast. Look to the west for a good body, or just be patient and scan
all the car papers in your area for one owned by an elderly person.
Most of the time, you will find a 351 in them. Either W or C, they run
great. Really, what engine depends on what you want to do. If you want to
break 11s, better go with a worked 400 or 460. If you want spirited
performance on the street without a huge bill, then use the 351, whichever
type comes in the car. The 302 is good for economy, and it's light, but I'd
rebuild it with a 331 stroker kit for more torque.
My Montego with a 351C-2V, small 194/204 cam, Pertronix ignition, Edelbrock
Performer intake and 600 CFM Holley carb and 2.75 rear gets 13-15 MPG. If
you want better, look to EFI.
dont think an SUV is gonna take out a Grand torino.. i had a 73 that was
sitting infront of my house when a kid down the block took his mothers
84 olds he was looking in the rearview mirror to see if she noticed that
he took the car... well he hit my torino head on and i had a cracked
parking light lens.. he had the whole front of the 84 olds, all plastic
sitting in the street.... my torino was shoved back about 3 feet from
its parking spot....
boy that front bumper was great.. and the 74's also have a back safety
bumper... just dont get hit in the side...
I would opt for a 400. A properly built 400 will make over 300 HP without
dumping a ton of money into it, and can get 17 - 18 MPG. I know - I own a
'71 Galaxie (full size car!) with a bone stock 400 in it, and I averaged
17.6 MPG on a cross country trip 2 years ago.
All it takes to wake a 400 up is a good cam and better breathing.
Here's a link to a Hot Rod magazine build where they got almost 400 HP and
almost 500 ft/lbs. of torque from a 400 using the stock 2V carb and
manifold and spending less than $2000.
That page is mine. BTW, they did not use a "stock carb". They used an
Edelbrock performer intake with a 2V carb EGR adapter and a 500 CFM Holley.
Note that 2V carb CFM ratings are taken at 3 in/Hg, rather than 1.5 in/Hg as
4V carbs are. When you adjust the flow figure to equate the same pressure
drop as a 4V carb is rated at, you get 353 CFM. Clearly, the Hot Rod 400
with a 750 CFM carb and headers (hot Rod used massaged stock manifolds)
would easily put oput over 400 HP. It's just a great build.
All I'm worried about on the car is rust. Don't wanna be spending
hours in the garage at winter patching holes in the car. I'll try to
keep it dry when I get it, but I think salt will be a bigger concern
so i'll have to wash her a lot. I think i'm gonna look for one with
the 351 in it. I would imagine it goes and its probably not horrible
on gas either. Any more info on rust, engine, trannies, problems, etc
would be greatly appreciated.
There just aren't any real problems with the cars. I'd stay within the
life of the body style, which is 1976 and before. 1972 was the best year
for performance and style. 1973 had the big energy absorbing bumper on the
front and was the last year for both the fastback and the four speed option
with the Q-code. Just keep your eyes open, do a lot of searching, and don't
settle for crap. Take your time and you will stumble over a creampuff.
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