Big Small Block Project: 1972 Ford Gran Torino

Josh MortensenBy Josh Mortensen

The seller of this Gran Torino had a novel idea for it. They were going to pull the body from the frame, roll a late model Crown Vic frame under it and turn it into a mean machine. Sadly, they decided it would be a shame to cut up and modify a rare 6C color code Torino. They also admit they just don’t have time for it and whether you restore it or modify it, it’s going to demand a great deal of time and energy. It’s being offered here on eBay in Cavalier, North Dakota with a current bid of $1,300 and no reserve.

This Torino has a rust problem and needs restoration work to be made right. The seller notes all the trouble areas and claims that the frame is solid. It was parked in the barn sometime in the ’80s due to a failed transmission. No attempt has been made to get the 400 cui V8 engine running, but since the transmission is in the trunk and in need of a full rebuild, you might as well plan on rebuilding the engine while you’re at it. Speaking of the engine, this big block V8 was new for the Torino in 1972. It was meant to take the place of the then outdated 390. While it isn’t a high horsepower engine, it produces decent low rpm torque while being significantly lighter than the 429 and 460 V8s. Being based off the 351 Cleveland there are performance parts available, so if you want to build it for serious power output, it’s possible.

The interior looks just as you’d expect a barn find to look. It’s complete, but has some damage and plenty of dirt. A good cleaning is necessary to determine what all needs to be replaced and what can be reused. The upholstery is a nice houndstooth pattern, although the front and rear seats don’t seem to match. Finding replacement seat covers in the correct material might be tricky, but a good upholstery shop should be able to replace the inserts as long as you can find the correct houndtooth pattern.

From this angle, you get a better idea of just how bad the rust is. It looks like both doors have serious rust issue and there’s some serious decay in the rear fenders. Replacement sheetmetal is out there, but it isn’t going to be cheap fixing all this rust. While we tend to prefer originality whenever possible, this car make a strong case for customization. If you put this body on a Crown Vic frame, you’d have modern performance with improved drivability and reduced concerns with the structural integrity of the frame. This route wouldn’t be cheap either, but it would make this a seriously fun driver!

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Comments

  1. Luke Fitzgerald

    Fear is the key

    2+
  2. c rawn

    when did the 400 motor become a “big block” ?

    13+
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Thanks for catching that! I have edited the post.

      1+
  3. Steve R

    These are the same guys that have had multiple early Ford and Mercury trucks featured on this site. It looks like they are branching out into cars.

    While these cars have a certain “cool” factor, they just don’t have much value. They haven’t caught on and may never have much of a following. A 66-67 Fairlane or a 70-71 Torino, especially a GT, would be a better choice.

    You hardly ever see these cars with bucket seats and a floor shift. That makes their interior much less appealing than intermediate GM and Mopars of that era which made much more extensive use of that configuration.

    Steve R

    1+
  4. Jeff

    I’ve got one of these sitting out in my garage that I have just begun working on. It is in better condition than this one. It runs but I can’t drive it until I go through the brakes and fire system and put some hardened valve seats and guides in it since it was designed to run leaded fuel. It has the 351CJ with hooker headers, Holley 650, and toploader 4 speed. I let her sit for a long time because home improvement projects and the kids came first. My wife was nagging me constantly to get rid of it. She thought it was too fast. If you have patience though, things have a way of working out. The kids are grown, I have no home improvement projects on the horizon, and that nagging wife is long gone. But my Torino is still waiting for me and we will ride again.

    30+
  5. JamestownMike

    I’m IN LOVE with the dark green 72 Ford Gran Torino Sport featured in the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino, so I’m a huge fan of this body style (and I’m a Chevy guy)! Too bad this yellow gold car is so rusty! I REALLY like the houndstooth interior but would replace the front bench seat with buckets and add a factory console floor shift like the movie car. I hope to find a cream puff 72 Gran Torino Sport one of these days!

    6+
    • Charles Jordan

      i

      1+
  6. JamestownMike

    Makes me wonder……is that black and white houndstooth interior original?? Anyone?

    0
    • T Mel

      Yes it is

      1+
  7. Barney

    I don’t believe parts for a 351 and a 400 interchange. I’m sure the intake manifolds do not. I understand that they are from the same engine family but the motors have several differences

    2+
    • William

      A 351 modified and 400 share the same architecture but they are different from the 351 Cleveland and the 400 is not much lighter then the 429 so for real power a 429 would be the best transplant

      5+
  8. JimmyJ

    I used to think these were the ugliest cars around ,but as I get older they’re actually pretty cool!
    Maybe it’s the grand Torino movie? Cuz that is one sweet Torino!

    4+
    • Mike

      It’s “Gran” Torino, not Grand.

      1+
    • Barzini

      I was thinking the same thing. Some cars like this improve over time for me, others lose some appeal. I guess our preferences evolve. Anyhow, l love the color and stance.

      3+
    • DweezilAZ

      I always thought they were styled as if they were mid-size Pintos.

      Compare the profiles.

      Better than what followed in 73 though.

      2+
  9. Roger Easterly

    Here’s the one we are working on. Had to replace the roof skin, a portion of the rear driver side door frame, and lots of dent work so far.

    5+
    • David Ulrey

      Please for heaven’s sake do it right with the roof skin! I’m not doubting you guys because I don’t know you and I’m not familiar with your work. My words of caution stem from the fact that I used to work doing body and paint and know what’s involved with doing it or doing it right. Recently had a pretty sweet 73 Suburban. The guy I got it from told me about things he had done to it, had done at shops actually, one was a new roof skin because something fell on it. Ok fine I thought. After a year of owning it rust started bubbling up around damn near every seem it was attached on. Didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what they DIDN’T do when replacing the roof skin. It made me sick. The rest of the sheet metal was still on and only had minimal rust on the upper part of the rear wheel well on the driver’s side.

      2+
  10. Moparman

    Last of the really GOOD looking Gran Torino’s! 🙂

    2+
  11. Andrew Meyer

    From 72-74 Ford made a 400c that was different than the 400m. Both share similarities other than mostly deck height. 351c and 400c same, 351m and 400m same.

    1+
    • Mike

      Nope. No such thing as a “400c”. The 400 is a tall deck version of a Cleveland. The 351M replaced the 351C in 1975, using the 400 block with a shorter stroke. And it’s not a “400m” either, just called a 400.

      2+
  12. Royal Ricci

    Drop a 462 V8 in there from a 67 Lincoln. Based on the 390, it should fit.

    1+
    • Kevin W

      Wow, seriously? Lol! A 462 and 390 have absolutely nothing in common, nor do they have anything in common with anything that came in a 72 Torino. Time for you to hit the books. Lol

      2+
  13. T Mel

    I know I know, my ’73 has the hideous large front bumper and everyone thinks it’s therefore a useless stupid car. But I love my CJ anyway.

    25+
    • DAVID ALISAUSKAS

      I love theses cars I’m building one with a 351cj close chamber heads 4spd 3.70 locker black on black vinal top

      2+
  14. jaymes

    aint she sweet!

    2+
  15. V8Throttle

    After years of collecting and working on beloved Fords I have a rule: Any car with a 400 in it must have a transplanted engine. The poor core shift means you may not be able to bore it and low oil pressure will inevitably develop in these scrap engines. Choose a 351C, 351W or a 429/460 before you spend a dime on a 400. Just build a 429 that dyno’d 673 horsepower at 6200 rpm for a transplant and I am very happy with that!

    7+
  16. Danny

    Best looking car in 73..
    mine’s is a 429

    5+
  17. Virginia Jud

    Had one. 72 Gran Torino Sport, 351C, Automatic. Red with black vinyl half-top. Traded out of a ’66 7 Litre. Still kicking myself for that one.

    3+
  18. Kevin W

    A 72 Gran Torino Sport with a bench seat, column shift, and a 400? Never heard of such a thing.

    2+
  19. Rob S.

    Always Loved these styles! 72 is a one year only style with that cool shark mouth grille. This one will get restored or just plain fixed up. Price is right.mine is waiting patiently for its turn.

    8+
  20. DG

    I like the bench seat and column shift. The 400M was pretty much a garbage engine. 351C made more power, the 429, more torque. My ’73 had the same 400 motor. Enough torque down low to get the big car rolling, but not much else.

    3+
  21. Dan Farrell

    I had a 72 with a Q code 351 Cleveland and automatic. It was rusted out under the back seat and needed more work than I could afford. Sold it to someone who said he and his son would restore it, wrecked it instead.

    1+
  22. Tommy D

    I’ve always liked these, but the movie really increased their popularity. Being a 1 year body style, they’re tough to find restoration parts for. I looked a long time before finding a decent Q-code ’72…

    5+
  23. Rocco Member

    The tranny(FMX) in the trunk is for the original 351C 2V eng. The 400 has a taller deck & trans bolt pattern, like the 429/460. Someone has either put an air cleaner lid on this eng. or transplanted a 400 & found out the tranny wouldn’t fit.

    0

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