1976 Ford Gran Torino 5.8L V8 (351M)
Ponderous, but in a good way!
Someone PAWNED this car off in running condition with a high idle and an oil leak, and never picked it up. The pawnshop put it on eBay and it was on...
The eBay auction ending price $355 <--that is NOT a typo.
Cost to ship it from OK to TX $320.
Initial cash outlay for light bulbs, oil change, hubcaps, fuses, filters, battery cables, and the like $53.
I got it fixed up (high idle was a jammed throttle linkage, took me 30 seconds to fix that for $0), inspected ($15), put a 30-day temp tag on it ($25), and began driving the car. Got 320 miles out of it and the right rear brake's wheel cylinder exploded, shredding all the brake parts inside the drum.
Station wagon parts car purchase $200 (with good brake drums!)
Other monies spent on brake and tune-up parts $90.
Cost to pay title, sales tax, and tag fees, $102.
Parts and labor to have master cylinder replaced and system bled, $74.
Credit for selling some wagon bits to someone restoring one 2 hours away (-$65).
$1169, THAT IS IT. That's all I have in the car so far outside of gasoline and insurance.
The car is like driving a living room sofa down the road, it is soft, it is mushy, and it is exactly why I bought this car, because 70s Fords are the squishiest cars I've ever owned or driven, and I LOVE that feeling.
The power steering is so heavily assisted that you can drive with a single pinky finger at any road speed.
I haven't even ran but one tank of fuel through it, so I haven't checked fuel mileage, but I expect mid teens at best. When the 351M engine and/or FMX transmission finally gives it up, I intend to swap in a speed density (86-88 or so) EFI 302 V8 and an AOD transmission (from say, a Thunderbird or Crown Victoria). I'll keep the 2.75 rear axle, too. I expect 18+ mpg city and 22+ mpg highway at that point, and it'll be as good as or better than any car its size.
The other issues with the car are either cosmetic or attributed to 33 years of age, previous owner neglect or abuse, or inability to find parts (thankfully I found that parts wagon locally and CHEAP!).
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th September, 2009
7th Sep 2009, 10:55
"it is soft, it is mushy"
- Just what you need for good high speed stability & control!!!
9th Sep 2009, 14:11
More stable than a bouncy lane expansion joint skipping Toyota Tacoma with poor handling on an expressway. Point the Ford and go cross country effortlessly, and almost zero steering over correction.
3rd Feb 2010, 11:21
OP here. Since this post, I have put only 1100 miles on the car, and have found the lifter tick, a loose rocker arm. It still ticks after fixing it, but I'm leaking less oil now!
Soft and mushy is the way to go. This car feels more solid at 70mph than most other cars I have owned. I will be switching from the tiny 215-70-14 tires to 225-60-16's and Crown Victoria 16" steel wheels shortly. Tax refund time, baby!
I really need to test the fuel economy. My best guess is from a trip to Fort Worth and back, 210 miles round trip, used 15 gallons, that's 14mpg. Not wonderful and I want to change out the FMX automatic for an AOD. It'll take a $325 bellhousing adapter to do it.
Heat is wonderful. AC compressor still works, so I'll charge the system in a couple months and see if it's cold or not.
Every problem with this car other than its obvious size and fuel economy is due to neglect or abuse by previous owners.
8th Jul 2014, 20:36
Thanks for the comments. We just bought a 76 351m off eBay and trailered it home. Probably could have taken the ride, but we are very happy. It's a 351m, rare now, not too many left.
We will baby this, garage it and fix it up.
The interior is great. Took it to a car show and people took pictures. Few cars have original everything on them and are still capable of driving to a car show. Not sure if we will keep it all original or not.
We bought it off of eBay motors for 2800, and we're very happy with the purchase. We would have paid a lot more.
I had a Torino when I was a kid, and this just makes my day... Thanks for your post.