1974 Ford Gran Torino Elite 5.8L (351c.i. Windsor)
They don't make them like this any more; dependable that is
First off, I was told this car was a barn find and that is why the miles are so low and the odometer is only 5 digits long.
I flew from Michigan to Seattle, WA to meet a guy from Craigslist about the Gran Torino. The plan was to drive from Seattle down the west coast of the United States, across the south via Las Vegas NV, El Paso TX, and Mobile AL, then head north to Michigan from there. Needless to say the car made it with very little trouble or effort.
The only trouble I had was that the distributor timing went off by about 30 degrees between Seattle, WA and Houston, TX after all of the mountain travel. A mechanic came out and fixed it for $150.00. There was no more trouble after that.
This 43 year old car was built well and made a 4600 mile trip after sitting for God knows how many years.
This car isn't the fastest or sportiest of the Gran Torinos. It isn't as comfortable as a Lincoln or as spacious in the cabin or trunk areas, but it made it through Sequoia trees, deserts, mountains, plains, lots of cities and quaint towns and averaged roughly 320 miles per tank.
This was a very well built car, and the engineering that went into the production of this vehicle shows that it was built to last not only time, but distance as well.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th December, 2017
31st Dec 2017, 04:56
Great review :)
Be careful: Anytime an engine loses 30 degrees of timing, the timing chain is suspect. Get a decent mechanic to check the slack in the chain. More than 10 degrees is a flag. Ignore it, and you can be looking at bent valves ($$$).
Having said that, 1974 was a good year for Torino/Montegos in that the offered one of the best engines ever built by Ford - the 351 Windsor.
While it did not have the legendary reputation of the 351 Cleveland, it didn't have the infamy of the 351 Cleveland, either (bottom-end problems due to oiling issues).
They respond very nicely to a 600-CFM 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust. The only thing is, that can lead to shortening the life of the C-4 transmission that these (heavy) cars often wind up being paired up with. The FMXs do (a bit) better. Takeaway: At least think about a fluid/filter change, and if you want to do shift kit (on a healthy - read properly-shifting - transmission) on it, not a bad idea ;)
Almost forgot - head gaskets can be a problem, but keeping on top of coolant changes largely mitigates that.