|The Journey . . .|
|I never--and I mean ever--thought I'd actually own a Starsky and Hutch "tribute" Torino. But fortunately for me, my amazing husband, Jay, has been in the car hobby ever since he was given his first set of Playschool car key teething rings <grin>.
After encouraging me to join him in his passion for antique cars for years, we bought our first project vehicle--his first love--a 1947 International KB2 pickup. The Torino--for me--followed shortly thereafter, so eventually, we'll have restored "his and hers" vehicles to enjoy together.
|Our Torino journey began in September 2008 when I won this 1974 Gran Torino Sport on eBay. The owner had been in the process of restoring the sedan, but had to part with it. While the body had some issues--rust, mostly, including a major spot inside the door frame--the 351 Windsor engine, Edelbrock carburetor, and transmission had all been professionally rebuilt. Essentially, the engine had less than 4,000 miles on it.
Just a note: the Torino used in the made-for-TV Starsky and Hutch pilot movie was a '74. A '75 and '76 were later used in the series.
|The "Calico" Torino from Wisconsin|
|We had borrowed a truck and trailer to make the 7+ hour drive from home to the Appleton, Wisconsin area to get the car. Of course--as it seems to be with most of our vehicle-purchasing road trips--there was horrible weather. Torrential rains from that summer's hurricane coupled with stop-and-go traffic through Chicago and Milwaukee made for a taxing journey. But at least it wasn't a blizzard, like when we drove to Iowa the previous December to get Jay's '47 International.
Once we got the Torino loaded in the trailer I was so excited, I was nearly in tears. But the prospect of a repeat performance through the rain and traffic prompted us to reroute our home trek to Mishewauka, WI to take the S.S. Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan to Ludington, MI, leaving us only 4 hours of hard driving.
Naturally, we got lost en route (the new GPS unit I'd bought was worthless) and were delayed by construction in addition to the pelting rains. I called the Badger freight line, and was pleasantly surprised that they would hold the departure us (by 10 minutes, so we'd better hurry), since it was the last ferry of the day.
Since "everything's an episode," as we're fond of saying in the fandom, I kept thinking of "Murder at Sea" (I also think is what the other passengers were thinking about us after delaying the trip). As Jay and I approached the loading area, several passengers were on deck three stories above us, obviously waiting for the stragglers to board. I worriedly turned to Jay and whispered, "They're either going to swear, spit, or throw things at us!" Fortunately, the other damp passengers good-naturedly applauded when we finally boarded, having been told of our plight. Once the ship was underway, we lost our celebrity status and they went back to playing bingo and snacking.
Just a note about the GPS unit: we had bought this first one shortly before this trip, but I was obviously less than thrilled with it. After finally docking in Michigan, the truck and trailer were pulled straight off the bow of the boat and pointed due east, away from the water and into the state. With Lake Michigan directly behind us, the GPS instructed us, "when possible, make a legal U-turn," sending us directly back into the water!
When I returned the GPS to the store for an upgrade to a more reliable brand and relayed our story, the clerk remarked that they must have mistakenly sold me the "adventure model" at no extra charge, no less.
|A damp, exhausted, but happy Jay & I exploring the ship during the 4 hour trip crossing choppy Lake Michigan from Wisconsin to Michigan. It was definitely better than driving back home through storms and traffic! The Torino spent the trip safely tucked away in the cargo hold.|
|Soooooon . . .|
|In addition to contending with the body rust, the rear passenger "opera" window would have to be filled in and the vinyl removed from the roof.|
|The "White Knight"|
|Before the blue Torino had ever come up for auction, Jay had been in contact with another eBay seller here in Michigan. Unfortunately, the car's reserve price was higher than we wanted to go.|
|Well, we hadn't planned on it, but considering the substantial bodywork the blue Torino needed, when the seller's price came down to where we wanted it to be, we were soon the proud, and somewhat dazed, owner of TWO 1974 Gran Torino Sports--WITHIN A WEEK!|
|And if I believed in "signs" . . .|
|As we were driving to Holly, MI to buy the "White Knight," we stopped to pick up some dinner while on the road.
Across the street was a little restaurant called, of all things, The Red Tomato!
A good sign, right? <grin>
|December 2008 - "The Surgery"|
|Since the Wisconsin car had the better "guts" and the Michigan car the better body, we decided to make swap out the engines. The car used in the series also had the 351 Windsor. While the 390 was more powerful, it was also notorious for leaking oil.|
|Removing the 351W engine.|
|Jay did an amazing job detailing and painting the engine.
Note the authentic "Ford Blue" paint job started on the right.
|The 351W ready to be detailed and painted.|
|The White Knight's 390 engine being removed.|
|The 351W installed!|
|Joe and Art: My "Merl the Earls."|
|With the 351W engine in place, there was no need for the hood scoop.
The navy hood came from the Wisconsin Torino as well.
|Yes, that's me in there, finally getting another chance to drive her since her "surgeries" (and yes--the car's a "she"). I'd only been able to take her out once before, right after we'd brought her home.
Here I am at the car museum Jay works at in front of their restored 1941 Diner. The museum sports several miles of paved roads on the grounds, so I was able to take her out for a bit and "stretch her legs."
Shoot, she handles as well as our '06 Monte Carlo!
|Another one of Jay's coworkers
--a volunteer fire chief--presented us with one of his working Mars lights. It's perfect!
We also have a reproduction license plate and a white 70's Motorola police radio ready to go!
|The Zebra can growl...
|Here's the poor Calico, stipped of the parts we needed, waiting to be picked up after we sold what was left.|
|Apparently, there was considerable "debate" between Jay and mechanics Joe and Art--who are both into drag racing--in regards to selecting the car's exhaust system, and how much "rumble" was befitting the Torino.
Fortunately, Jay was able to temper their enthusiasm, while still finding a "suitable system". <grin>
The car does have a very nice "growl" without scaring the neighbors . . .
|We spent the weekend after the exhaust was installed pulling out the enterior and all the trim off the body to get her ready for painting.|
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