1974 Ford Gran Torino 351 Cleveland
Solid plain tank
This was one of our cars that my family had when I was growing up. In general, this was a comfortable car, and looking back in time it was a huge, wide tank of a thing. At the time, however, it was an average sized car -- other new cars back in 1974 were smaller, and others were much bigger. If you were a middle class family in 1974 and needed to buy a new car, this one would have been a very real possibility, and on your list to look at.
My parents were not very diligent about taking care of their cars, and it wasn't high on their list of priorities in life to do things like make sure the oil was changed regularly, or check for air pressure in the tires. Incredible as it may seem, they often just drove on and on, thousands of miles, until the engine blew, or the radiator, or whatever calamity might befall. Even still, this did not especially bother them. If they were involved in a fender bender, they'd just drive on, and sometimes we'd go years with major and/or minor dents on our various cars. Again, this was not a bother to them.
I can remember when they bought this car brand new from Stone Mountain Ford around Christmas time, 40 years ago. While this was the Gran Torino and not the plain Torino, this car, with its blue vinyl top, blue paint, and blue vinyl interior (which felt and looked like leather) was still pretty basic, even for 1974. It had an AM-FM radio with one speaker (no 8-track), and no power windows or door locks, and no clock. It DID, however, have optional cruise control, which was a big deal back then, and an expensive option that my mother insisted on having. That cruise control worked for all of one single week, and then it broke, and Stone Mountain Ford did not have the parts in stock to fix it, even though it was under warranty. My parents, just being who they are, did not sweat this out or complain. They just weren't like that. The broken cruise control drove ME crazy back then, even as a boy, but not them! We drove it for the next 10 years or so, and the cruise never worked.
We also had to replace the engine, probably in around 1980 or so, mostly due to lack of maintenance (our fault), and other various issues.
The back seat, where I sat, was very deep and wide. Children could not see over the front seat, hence no view. Even an adult could probably have only barely been able to see over the front seat.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 24th December, 2014
28th Dec 2014, 04:44
Nice review :)
I've owned a few 351 Clevelands (and worked on many Cleveland/Modifieds), and they like frequent oil/filter changes. If your parents were indifferent about oil/filter changes, life could get "Interesting" fast. The bottom ends get loose fast in such an environment. Operation with large throttle openings and higher RPM will quickly shorten lifespans with casual maintenance.
On the other hand, fastidious maintenance pays dividends :) It's a fun engine when you add a 4-barrel carb and dual exhaust. The big intake valves tend to make torque a bit weak at low RPM, but wind 'em, and they go!!! (Hint: 5500 RPM will do).
Long story short: Don't make the mistakes I made, and have fun!!!