The Dude Abides: 1973 Ford Gran Torino

The phrase “cult classic” has often been overused to describe movies that nobody really likes, but somehow they linger in conversation among movie buffs for years.  The Big Lebowski, however, is a movie that deserves its cult status among fans.  It didn’t do well at the box office, but it later became very profitable in video as people caught on to the outlandish humor and the over the top performances in this very quotable movie.  One of the stars of the movie was Jeff Lebowski’s 1973 Ford Gran Torino sedan, which went through many trials and tribulations before ultimately meeting its demise at the hands of nihilists.  While its not a car Bunny Lebowski would be caught in the back of, it would be the perfect ride for anyone who abides. This condition correct 1973 Ford Gran Torino is located in Tarrant, Alabama and is for sale here on craigslist for $1,500. While many of you may be worried that we look like a bunch of saps, this is a moderately priced receptacle that won’t cost you a toe.

As you can see, the worn condition really ties the car together.  While the original Dude-mobile was more of a tan color, its not like these cars are as common as Ralph’s Supermarkets.  So, to complain about the color would be over the line.  Built just after we had pretty much gotten out of Vietnam, where there were no rules, these Fords once ruled the roads.  This one looks like it has made a lot of trips to get vodka, Kahlua, and cream, and the exterior has many dents and dings.  What can you do when everyone around you is a bunch of amateurs?  Flash your piece out on the lanes?

When you drop in to see what condition the left side is in, it looks like a briefcase full of dirty undies.  Obviously, it has been a while since anyone has wanted to “take that hill” with this poor Ford.  The good news is that, like the cable, these cars can be fixed if you are a professional.  As far as the obvious need for cleaning, maybe you could get the job done there by stopping by a Little Lebowski Urban Achiever car wash and have them clean it up.  Just tell them Maude Lebowski is your special lady friend.

Inside, the upholstery doesn’t seem too bad, but the overall condition is a real bummer.  I can’t see from the picture, but hopefully the car has a tape deck.  Some Creedence is a must when you are cruising over to your landlord’s interpretive dance recital.  Obviously, this vehicle’s condition would be indicative of the car before the scene where little Larry found out what happens when you seriously disrespect a stranger’s trust.  You would still be able to re-enact the scene where Mr. Seller’s neighbor branded the car in retribution for Walter’s misguided lesson.  Busting out the windows would give you the full wind in the hair scene effect, but that might make your burger cold on the ride back from the In-N-Out on Radford.

The back seat, however, would be perfect for that scene in the police impound yard.  While there is no mention in the ad that this car has been previously stolen, I hope the current owner has some leads on who messed up the back part of this car.  I hear they’ve got the cops working in shifts on it. At any rate, I’d first tear that headliner out and throw it out of my car as if it were someone who hated the Eagles. In all, this is a pretty good car for riding out to the bowling alley and seeing if they posted the list for the next round robin.  While driving it would likely be as unpleasant as going around your neighborhood and discussing your legal obligations, you can rest assured that a car like this can hit a dumpster and still survive.  Just stay out of Malibu with it.

Fast Finds


  1. PoPPaPork

    I dont think this is a restoration candidate, however if i was a 20 yo looking for a cool ride this would fit the bill, get a 12pack of black magic rust converter, 24 pack of semi gloss black spray paint. New tires, rip out the headliner, new hoses, brakes, fluids and it would be a respectable ride for under 5k.

  2. Chebby

    I think this is the correct color. There was one EXACTLY like the Dude’s sitting abandoned in a carport in SF until a year or two ago, then it disappeared.

    • Johnny Cuda

      I believe it is the correct color also. My dad had a 1973 2-door in this same color. Took my high school sweetie to the prom in that car. And she’s my wife of 33 years!

  3. LAB3

    I’d hold out to find a sport model one year earlier, the one owned by Walt Kowalski in the movie Grand Torino. Seriously, THE best interpretation of an old school Detroiter ever put on film!

  4. Troy

    What’s it got? 351, or maybe a 400? Could make a decent q-ship for the street racer out there. Or maybe just clean it up and go cruise.

  5. Danno

    I’d recommend, before you buy it, you just drop in to see what condition its condition is in.

    Like 1
  6. Fred W.

    Guess I really need to see the movie so I can appreciate all the references.

    • Dusty Stalz

      Make yourself a Caucasian and watch the movie. Great performances from entire cast.


    Love the movie. Because of the movie this car is a dealio. I would at least air up the tires and ask for more.

    Although appears in better shape then the actual movie car it wouldn’t take much to make a clone. But then you would need the long hair sunglasses shorts and a sweater. Go to the local Ralph s and then roll a few. What a life.

    Sounds like fun. But don’t leave your business papers in it unattended or it’s a bummer!

  8. Mountainwoodie

    As I type this in my bathrobe, this Dude cannot abide a 4 door Torino.

  9. Howard A Member

    In 1987, this was THE classic $100 beater that you bought when you stored your good car for the winter. 30 years later, to me,,,it’s still a $100 beater,,,

    • AMCFAN

      Howard, In 1987 that may have been true but it’s now 2017. It may be a beater but you won’t buy it or anything else like it even in worse shape for $100.

      Scrap price is $400-$500 today. To actually get something you can hop in and drive is at least $800-$1000 and for that you are going to have to put some effort to maintain it to make it dependable So it puts the above vehicle in perspective of the once $100. beater adjusted for inflation and maybe collector interest.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi AMCFAN, 2017? Already? I say “$100 beater” as kind of a moniker for these types of cars. The dollar amount may vary some, but the theme is the same. These cars were generally unwashed, unloved, unmaintained, and the “$100 beater” status, usually applied to these cars that had led their useful life, and after the $100 beater sale, it usually was junked.

      • LAB3

        Ah, you may do well to check where scrap prices are sitting right now. With no catalytic converter or alloy wheels this car wouldn’t bring more than $200 these days.

  10. John Holden

    Beautiful film.
    Beautiful write-up, Jeff.
    What a used-car salesman you’d make – if you’re not already one!
    Keep ’em coming….

  11. Bill

    I had that exact car, same color too! Bought it for $175.00 back in 1986..Beat the ba-Jesus out of it really bad….blew out the u-joints doing reverse rolls…bouncing it off of concrete parking garage pillars… Driving it through snow banks…threw the timing chain off and it shook so bad, the starter fell out….ahhhh….the good old days of being a derelict….

  12. Joe M

    Bought one of these, when in college to deliver newspapers. Yellow low mileage banana boat. Held all the papers I needed in the backseat, and front seat. Was a workhorse, many dents and yellow streaks left around town, getting down small streets, and taking some turns a little too widely in the early morning hours. I don’t think I would want another one though. Dealer actually took it for a trade..

  13. Dusty Stalz

    Cool find but that’s, just, like, my opinion, man.

  14. Steve B

    The color? Green. Some brown, uh or, rust, coloration.

  15. Dude

    Nothing changes.

  16. Greg Standing Bear

    We test drove a few Gran Torinos back in the day and never liked them. The low seating position and small windows really made for a cramped-feeling car–even though it was nearly full-sized. The interior on a low-optioned Gran Torino isn’t much nicer than the really frumpy base Torino.

    If I really wanted a Gran Torino, I’d hold out for a well-optioned 2-door Sport or 4-door Brougham. This one just doesn’t do a thing for me.

  17. T Mel

    love my ’73 CJ

  18. Doug Styre

    Loved your take on the Big Lebo….you are definitely an aficionado!

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