1976 Ford Gran Torino 5.8L V8 (351M) from North America

Summary:

Ponderous, but in a good way!

Faults:

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.

General Comments:

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.

1973 Ford Gran Torino Station Wagon 351 Windsor 4bbl V8 from North America

Summary:

Huge inside and out, strong, and INDESTRUCTIBLE

Faults:

The "usual" stuff that would be wrong with a car from '73 that you bought in '94.

- Carb problems.

- Tear in rear seat when purchased.

- ALL mirrors broken when purchased.

- Rear seatbelt would lock at the slightest jerk/pull.

- Muffler lost on our rural driveway.

- Due to muffle loss, THAT SUCKER WAS LOUD AS SH.

General Comments:

My dad bought it when I was 14 for a birthday present for my mom. (He traded our LTD Station Wagon, THANK GOD) So bonus points for being a birthday gift.

No sheet metal, just unholy adimantium forged on the sun.

Due to it's weight and size and what a paramedic called it, we dubbed it the "War Wagon". So we were sitting in this giant contraption that would make the Ford Excursion crap itself, and all of the sudden some dude in a lowered, riced out Civic comes at us at about 30 when we in the middle of an intersection (our light was green, his was not) and he slammed into the rear right section of our truck area, we ended up spinning out and the the Civic dude crawls out of his new industrial-sized paper-weight, and yells that he's going to call the cops. So about 15 minutes later, the police and paramedics arrive (turns out the Civic-guy broke his left knee and shoulder). They say they have to check each of us out (just to be sure or something), and after verifying that me and my dad were fine, we over heard the paramedic say to his co-medic that " They're lucky they were in that godda**** War-Wagon or they'd gotten F***** up!", so after laughing so much that our lungs started to hurt, we from then referred to it as the "War Wagon".

Good Facts:

The huge Civic-shaped dent was easily banged out with a sledgehammer.

The trunk was big enough to store B-17 bombers during peace-time.

The engine bay doubled as a bedroom, even with the 351W in there.

The 351 Windsor in that sucker could tear the brass coloring off of a sheet of copper.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd May, 2009

26th May 2009, 11:11

I think the rodents were living in the B-17 bombers that were stored in the trunk... Hey, wait a minute this was supposed to be a Gran Torino Station Wagon... how on earth did it have a trunk?

26th May 2009, 17:24

"so we're sitting in this giant contraption that would make the Ford Excursion crap itself" - Oh my gosh, this is the best written review I've read on here as yet, and I've read most of them.

30th Jun 2009, 09:34

Damn, I need one! Have been looking around for a while now. Anyone have one they want to sell? Any idea about the mpg? How much would a steering pump replacement be?

28th Jan 2011, 14:42

Fine, entertaining review. In a similar vein, check out the movie The Big Lebowsky, where The Dude drives an old Torino, and to hilarious effect.

15th Jun 2014, 04:21

Where did the four-barrel come from? In 1973, 351 Windsors as-built-by Ford came with two-barrel carburetors only.