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Tidy in Size, Big in Style: 1974 Ford Gran Torino Elite

Feel like a grand trip to the mid-west, Urbandale, Iowa, to be exact? Then take nine thousand bucks and rescue this 71,000-mile survivor from its sole owner. Rocco B was the one to uncover this gem of a 1974 Gran Torino Elite hiding in plain sight here on craigslist, so a big thanks for a great find.

The Gran Torino Elite debuted in early 1974, living for three model years. The first of those saw its name as noted, and for 1975 and 1976 the name was simply Ford Elite. The original name signaled that this model was at the top of the Torino food chain. The car became a stand-alone model when badged “Elite.” It was envisioned by marketers as a kind of junior model to the Thunderbird, and its competition ranged from the Chevy Monte Carlo to the Chrysler Cordoba.

You can see the car’s pretensions to luxury from glance one. Check out the twin-split opera windows. How thick is that vinyl top? Are those wheel covers factory? They look like a lot of work to maintain in as-new condition. Add to that the body-side molding, faux dash panel wood, and tufted leather seats, and you’ve got a “spoil yourself” kind of ride going. About the only thing Ford got wrong was the bumpers, which stick out in an ungainly way. Then again, that was due to Federal safety mandates. They do somewhat mar the natural lines of the grill and tail area, though.

So if you want something rather tidy (relatively speaking) in size but big in style, this might be your new ride, and the price seems tempting for a car that looks as clean as this one. What we don’t know is a lot of information about this unit. The miles would appear to be original, though the interior looks a bit dirty. Perhaps that’s due to the light color or the image quality, though. But under the hood is pretty dusty, a contrast to the paint surfaces. Does this suggest a repaint somewhere in the past, or just that the original owner, the father-in-law to the person posting the ad, simply didn’t open the hood? My dad was like that—I never saw an air cleaner cover growing up. The guy at the service station was the one who checked our oil, because he knew what he was doing. So you’d want to inquire about mechanical work done, reliability, how much the car has been driven of late, and whether there’s paperwork on the car. That would seal it for me, especially if a test run revealed that the seller is not exaggerating with the claim “Drives like new.” Where you gonna get a car this cool for this kind of money?


  1. Torino

    <=1972 Torino’s rocked..
    Then sadly they became just a car for the elderly to drive slowly to Church and get groceries slowly.
    Good luck on nice clean car for sale

    Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      Yes and no. In the 70s, I worked for an auto body supply, and the widow of the founder, Irene, who was in her 80s, had a car just like this, sans the wires. You know the type, long retired, but still came in everyday. I believe she drove like 3 miles a day. Irene may have been old, but knew a nice car.
      Now, conversely, the secretary, who was this HOT, but married 40ish tomato, and she had the same car, only white, and drove an hour each way to work. I agree, prior to these, Torino was a racing legend. I don’t think anyone raced these and Ford shifted the audience to women and old people, a wise decision. They were great cars,

      Like 0
  2. Bamapoppy

    I remember these like it was yestercentury.

    Like 5
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Lots of mid-70’s characteristics here, none of which have much chance in today’s new car market. But in hindsight, make it an excellent example of its day.

    — personal luxury coupe, with their stylish two-door looks and poor space utilization
    — big bumpers, Ford being the worst
    — styling cliches, such as the dual opera windows and the wide bodyside moldings
    — lots of busy-ness, such as the grille texture and the taillight trim
    — beige-y yellow paint, tan vinyl roof, white interior

    The Elite wasn’t bad, but I also liked its original iteration as the 1972 Torino better. This example is pretty good and, for not much money, might make for a cruiser.

    Like 4
  4. Stan

    The 4 barrel 351 added almost 90hp more up to 255hp. Nothing wrong with that in a luxury barge like this. Hwy dreamer right here. Put on tour favorite tunes and hit the go pedal. 🙌

    Like 2

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