One of the hardest tasks in American life during the 20th century must have been choosing a new car – especially a Ford. American manufacturers in general and Ford in particular delighted in being cavalier with the use of model names and loved offering endless permutations that must have left potential buyers with spinning heads. Nothing illustrates the point better than the Ford Torino.
In 1968 and 1969 the Torino was an upmarket sub series within the intermediate Ford Fairlane range. In 1970 the Torino became Ford’s intermediate car with the Fairlane becoming the sub series. There were 13 models, five engine options, three transmission packages – and that’s before even thinking about colour choice. Ah well, tens of thousands of happy campers managed to make a decision in the end, so perhaps Ford-buying wasn’t that hard after all.
Certainly the top choice for someone looking to join the performance party was the 1970 Torino GT Convertible. This wide, low machine was sleekly styled with a distinctive egg-crate grille with hideaway headlights and full-width rear light panel. The comfortable cabin sported a raked windscreen, bucket front seats and simple dashboard. The really good bit was the great big lump under the bonnet – a 7 litre Cobra Jet engine.
This put the GT Convertible right at the top of the muscle-car class at a time when these sporting bruisers were at the height of their popularity, before the impending oil crisis banished them to the world of happy memories. With buyers spoiled for muscle-car choice, the Torino GT Convertible sold just under 4,000 units, making this speedy ragtop the rarest Ford intermediate. Today, scarcity value coupled with the fact that the GT was a terrific car in the first place has made this an ultra-collectable ’70s icon.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
FIRST MANUFACTURED: 1970 (until 1971)
ENGINE: Various, from 4.9 I (302 cid) to 7.0 I (429 cid) V8
PERFORMANCE: With 7.0 I engine — top speed of 128 mph (206 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW: One of the more unusual options on the Ford Torino GT Convertible was a pair of broad reflective laser stripes that ran back along the front wings and across the doors before terminating, giving extraordinary colour effects as the light played on them.