Welcome to Fraser Fast Facts • Vol. 1, Issue 7
THE 1976 GRAND TORINO
Starsky & Hutch's Ford Grand Tornio – Zeebra Three is comin' atcha!
From 1974 to 1979 America couldn't get enough of bright red car with the vector white stripe
Detectives David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson raced across ABC’s airways every week in the hit television show Starsky & Hutch. Filmed on the fictional streets of Bay City, California, the third star of the show was the iconic Code-2B bright red, with white vector stripe, 197x Ford Gran Torino. Well, actually it was a series of Gran Torinos produced from 1974 to 1976, though the exact number of vehicles used in filming was estimated between seven and 10.
Some cars were outfitted with the stock 351 cubic inch Windsor V8, while others, particularly the stunt cars, were loaded with 400 cu.in., and even 460 cu in. engines, depending on the scene to be shot, and the model year of the Gran Torino being used. Modifications to the transmissions and rear gearing were common in the stunt cars. In the second season, the film company even posted a warning on the dashboard of one vehicle that said “Do Not Exceed 50 MPH”, because the tuning of the drive train was for acceleration, not outright speed.
Unfortunately for today’s collectors, in the Spring of 1976, after the incredible first season of Starsky & Hutch hit the television, Ford decided to release a limited-edition Gran Torino in the signature red with white stripe, with the 351 cu. In. Windsor engine, and of-course a state-of-the-art Eight-Track Tape Player. The exact number produced is not known, but the range is from 1,000 to 1,300, but they were virtual duplicates of the “movie cars”, replete with black vinyl bench seats, and shift on the steering column.
So, determining if you have one of the original seven movie cars, or a production one proves to be a difficult task. One verified movie vehicle, had a plaque mounted on the engine compartment firewall that said “20th Century Fox Film Studios,” followed by a nine-digit serial number. Its passenger sun visor was even signed by the show’s stars, Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. In 2014 it sold for $40,000.00.
This vehicle is a prized possession for any collector, whether it be an actual movie car, or just a limited-edition. Just understand, the value goes up considerably if you have “Huggy Bear” handcuffed in the back seat.
Some Fraser Fast Facts include:
1. The iconic white stripe on the side was actually changed from season to season, at least three times. In the pilot it was much pointier towards the rear of the car, and it got rounder and rounder as time went on.
2. No one like the car originally. It was discovered, on set, that the car was originally supposed to be a Camero, so when a Gran Torino showed up. Well. Bleck. And actor David Soul hated the thing because the vinyl bench seat was slippery, and he was constantly being bounced from one side to the other, even with a seat belt.
3. The car was a big a star as the actors, with fan clubs all over the world. People could not get enough of the “Striped Tomato” to the extent that if they couldn’t find a limited-edition, they would buy a standard Gran Torino and convert it themselves.
4. The Ford Torino may be coming back. According to Ford, a “totally reinvented Torino in two models is being considered”. On the heels of the new Charges and Challengers, all things old are new again.
If you want to trick out a classic Grand Torino into a mean-street-machine of your own, check out FRASERS world-class remanufactured engines.
Thinking about building a replica with an american-made engine? Fraser has the right engine ready for you!