Silver Screen Star: 1972 Ford Gran Torino

Everything comes into its own eventually. I had to admit surprise when the Clint Eastwood smash hit film, Gran Torino, actually featured a ’72 Gran Torino in a supporting role. I guess that makes sense right, otherwise, what’s the purpose of the title? The movie was about a lot more than an old Ford but a ’72 Torino seemed like an unusual car choice considering how rarely they are found any longer – they’re just not that collectible. Anyway, let’s see what the script is here. This Gran Torino Sport is located in Bridgeview, Illinois and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of  $7,600 with 41 bids tendered so far.

As a subjective matter of taste, I gave the ’69 & ’69 Torino two-thumbs up, thought the ’70 & ’71 got good marks for its progressive aero flair; the ’72? Not so much so.  It is really a substantially different design than its predecessors, most noted by its body on frame architecture. But I’m not really focused on that, I thought the big, oval grille looked too much like a front-loading washing machine – I think it was just a comparative thing. And of course, as with every other manufacturer, power was on the way out in ’72 so that didn’t help either. So, how did the ’72 fare when compared to the ’71? The ’72 production volume for Torinos, of all stripes, was about 496K units vs. 588K assembled in the previous year; down but still a very respectable number.

The seller advertises this Torino as being powered by a 5.7-liter engine but the VIN indicates that it is, or originally was a 140 net HP, 5.0 liter (302 CI) V8 engine. It appears to have been modified with a four-barrel carburetor on an adaptor/spacer, aftermarket distributor and ignition box, an open-element air cleaner, aluminum valve covers, and a dual exhaust system. The seller claims that this car, “Runs and drives good“. Gear changing is handled via a three-speed automatic transmission. Of note, some of the A/C componentry is missing.

The seller suggests that since “this particular vehicle is finished in brown exterior over brown interior which is a very classy combination“.  Well, it’s certainly period correct, it looks like 1972 and I’ll leave it at that. He further states that the paint is experiencing some fade (trunk lid) as it is the original finish, but all in all, it doesn’t look bad. He further adds, “Car is very solid, frame looks good, trunk looks good rockers look good“. There is an image of the underside included and it bears out his claim. The images were all shot at a distance so it’s hard to focus in on the bodywork, but what’s visible looks OK. One thing observed is that the rear roll-pan looks to have encountered a little action with something else. Obviously, based on the pictures and the surroundings, one may have concerns with this Torino being domiciled in Illinois, a notorious rust-o-rama state, but this car may not have spent much, or all, of its life at this locale. Notably, the original vinyl top has been removed and the roof has been painted with brown-hued primer to go with the rest of the exterior. The seller claims that the roof is solid and has not suffered the kind of fate that worn vinyl tops frequently inflict.

Inside is about as one would expect. This 126K mile Ford has had its front seat recovered and it’s looking sharp! The dash pad has suffered some typical cracks but the instrument panel is certainly presentable. Auxillary gauges and an aftermarket tachometer have been installed but they fit in and are not ouvert. The carpet, what can be seen of it, looks a bit dirty but not heavily worn. Even though the front seat has been recovered, my recollection of Ford’s interiors from this era is that they were covered with pretty tough materials that hold up well with accumulated miles and age.

This is a nice find if for no other reason than the fact that a Gran Torino Sport from this era is not found that often anymore. And if you’re a real Ford fan, you can probably appreciate this car that much more so. Well, Clint’s car doesn’t have anything to fear from this example but isn’t that usually the case with movie stars vs. the rest of us?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I like these better than Jim does. I’ll admit this one is a bit tame looking with the brown/brown, bench seat, column shift, and trim rings/hubcaps. But one with laser stripes, Magnum 500 wheels, bucket seats, and the full instrumentation makes for a sharp car. They do have a degree of collectability.

    Like 17
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      Bob:

      I will admit that equipped with a 351-4V, a four-speed manual gearbox, and as you stated, Magnum 500’s, it’s a pretty nice ride – with a great sound! It just needs to be finished off in something other than brown…

      JO

      Like 6
      • Richard Ridao

        I had a1972. It was bright yellow with a brown interior. Mine was a 4-speed, 351HO, dual point distributor, 4barrel, posi-trac, dual exhaust it ran quite well. It also had magnum 500 wheels it was a really nice looking car. If I could find another like it I would be very interested in buying it. I presently have a 2006 mustang gt 5 speed which is also a very fun car.

        Like 8
    • Luke Fitzgerald

      Too right Bob – Jim needs some educatin’ – check Barry Newman thrashing the living daylights out of a red one in ‘Fear is the key’

      Like 1
      • Corey Harris

        Just from the images of a quick google search I need to see this movie and I think Berry must have thrashed at least 10 of these in it. I suspect that movie may be the reason for the rarity of these today. I think that they are very cool. My mom had 4 door with a 351 in the 80s when I was a kid. That one was totally thrashed and rusted beyond repair. Eventually had to be junked due to frame rot.

        Like 2
  2. Jay Frediani

    It’s an early 72- Later models, made starting in January had an aluminum mouldings on the valance beneath the rear bumper– Strange how you know things – Dad had an early 72- The car frame was built like a tank.

    Like 5
    • bry593

      IMO, the best looking of the 70’s Torinos. Really the only one I’d bother with. ’73+ lost the character.

  3. Jcs

    ouvert??

    Like 1
  4. Mikey Small

    I had back in late 70’s a 73 Gran Torino 2 door w/ 351 C that was a Blue screamer…and then sev yrs later while in US Navy Dad gave My new Wife and I a 74 4dr he had and it had 351 windsor..it also was a screamin brown sleeper…both were gr8 dependable cars for me…would gladly love to have again.

    Like 5
  5. Ike Onick

    “Slight paint fade on the trunk and I couldn’t be bothered taking out the driver’s side floor mat or brushing the snow off the gas pedal.” “Hey, I had to get to work”

    Like 3
  6. Moparman Member

    (IMO) These were the last gasp of a good looking Torino before it turned into a bloated caricature of itself. The ’73 bumper standard was met by what one car mag stated as: “Ford chromed a railroad tie and hung it on the front end.” The next generation continued the decline, but did get a little small screen time in “Starsky and Hutch.” I read an article that stated that the stars of that show hated the car, which was also described as a “wallowing pig!” :-)

    Like 4
  7. Joe

    May be a Windsor but not a 351 Cleveland if it is a 5.7. I have had 2 Gran Torinos. Awesome cars, still have the second one. Its been collecting dust since 1989. Ugly green with hardtop and floor shift auto.

    Like 2
  8. Steve Clinton

    “…chromed a railroad tie and hung it on the front end.” That pretty much described nearly all 1973 American cars.

    Like 7
  9. ADM

    We had the wagon version. An absolute piece of junk. When the driver’s window crank broke, after a few months, the service manager said we were rolling the window up “too hard.” A line from a Mad Magazine, of this era, summed it up well. At and assembly plant, a reporter asks why it takes six guys to carry a front bumper. “Is it that heavy?”….”No, we’re afraid if it drops, it’ll break into a million pieces.”

    Like 1
    • 370zpp

      ADM, I had a similar experience with my 6 month old 72 Lemans Sport with white interior when it developed stains across the seams of the headliner – it was leaking.
      The service adviser recommended I just live with it – too much trouble to fix. . .

      Like 1
      • ADM

        Yeah, the quality was really starting to go downhill. In another post, I described, how, within 6 months, the rear end broke, then the transmission, and finally the wheel bearings started to fail. The only thing that soldered on, was that poor old 302. To me, it’s obvious that they didn’t beef anything up when they went from unitized, to body-on-frame construction, which added a lot more weight. If anything, they made things cheaper.

  10. Bunky

    No such thing as a 5.7 Ford. Try 5.8.

    Like 8
  11. Dogfather

    Back in 81 my father bought an identical one of these Torinos from a coworker. 40,000 miles,same brown. It was really nice. I got to drive it only a few times before my brother smashed in the front

    Like 3
  12. Grumpy

    No power brakes.

  13. Big Mike

    My first car was 73 Grand Tornio, with a 351 Windsor Police Special, under the hood, it was the Chief of Police ‘s City car, fir the little town of 1200 people I grew up in, thank god it was a 2 door. I bought it at a auction of surplus City Property, they said it wasn’t running so they bought him a 82 Crown Vic to replace it. I towed it home after paying 250.00 for it, and tore into it, to find a stuck intake valve on the #5 cylinder. After a valve job, and routine clean, replaced the cam and lifters, that car came back to life and would pass anything and everything on the road except a gas station. Loved that car, sold it 10 year later for 2500.00 to a friend who took it out and wrecked it. I miss that car.

    Like 4
  14. Geoff

    By the looks of all the shoddily installed aftermarket electrical stuff in the engine bay and under the dash with hanging wire etc the buyer should plan on sorting that sooner rather than later. Still It appears solid enough for a Northern. Always liked this year Torino particularly in Ranchero form

    Like 1
  15. Christopher Gentry

    That’s actually my favorite year Torino. But I’m a little odd

    Like 5
    • ADM

      Not if you owned one, like we did.

      Like 1
  16. Troy s

    Overall nice Torino Sport with a little extra pep under the hood, hopefully the 302 was replaced with a 351W which could only help with the extra torque. Brown is period correct but definitely not the best of shades here and the gear shift sure looks rusty/corroded.
    Better looking wheels and tires, gearing, yada yada and who knows. Lot of fun to cruise around in but these will never stack up with the earlier Fairlanes/Torino’s/Cobra models.
    Nice car.

  17. Timothy Phaff

    140hp??? was the engine builders for this year, Torino, on quaaludes? What can we do with this hp, tow a canoe, we can’t go to the drag track!!!

  18. Troy s

    Net horsepower ratings, only making the docile 302 Ford and many others appear substantialy underpowered, were in play by this year if not a year sooner. Engineers were faced with dreaded emissions compliance like never before thanks to the Muskie Clean Air bill of 1970….a ten year plan at least, the sixties were over.

  19. Howard Kerr

    These are the high water mark for a intermediate car from Ford, stylewise. But in my limited experience these are real tanks, and I don’t mean in a good way. They are huge outside but not anything special for interior room. The power steering, as I remember it, was kind of numb feeling, just a tiny bit better than any contemporary Chrysler product. But, and I am biased, decent engines and transmissions…assuming you bought the optional 351.

  20. JoeNYWF64

    INO, THE best looking car model/gen to never get a hi perf motor.
    Paul Glaser might have not hated if they used this 250?+ lb lighter small bumper version instead on his tv show.
    But Ford wanted sales of its NEW models.

  21. JoeNYWF64

    oops IMO.

  22. bone

    If you didn’t like the round Gran Torino grille, you could have ordered the base Torino – which had an entirely different front . Personally, I think the 72 Gran Torinos were the best looking of any Torino

    Like 2
  23. Richard Ridao

    It was not a two door or four door front end. Ford made a Torino and a Gran Torino, the Gran Torino had the round grille and the regular Torino had the other one both two door and four door on both models.

    Like 2
  24. Richard Ridao

    I have to disagree with ADM On the quality, I had a 72 with 4 speed 351c posi-trac dual point ignition full gauge package. That car made many trips down the drag strip and the only thing I ever had any probLems with was the brakes and the master cylinder fixed it.

    Like 1
    • ADM

      Well, you really can’t disagree, since these problems really happened. If they’d happened to you, you’d be agreeing with me.

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