Tom Shaw
March 1, 2005

Here's a great match up between a pair of '72 middle-block intermediates. Mike McPhillips has a Ford we just don't see enough of-a Gran Torino Sport with the 351-C 4V and Top Loader four-speed transmission. It's a big car, high on weight and with less power than in previous years, but with Magnum 500 wheels and a laser stripe, the Torino has looks as well as performance. Mike qualified with a strong 14.64 at 98.96 mph.

Lining up against him is Steve Caruso, a member of the Buick Club's strong Michigan chapter and another Pure Stock Drags veteran. In 1971, the GSX option was available for the first time with the 350ci V-8. The Buick GSX has a Turbo 350 automatic, 3.42:1 gears, and 258 fewer pounds than Mike's Torino. Steve's a sharp driver who qualified with a 14.68 at 94.10 mph. Should be another close one.

Round One: It's a close start, with Steve getting the GSX rolling first. Mike's hot on his heels, but a slow 2.36-second 60-foot puts his Torino in an early deficit, but losing is not on Mike's to-do list. He kicks the 351C hard and lets those big ports go to work. The 351C-4V engine makes its torque at high rpm. At mid-track, the Torino comes on strong, reeling the GSX back in. At the big end, Steve's Buick opened up enough of an early lead to take the round, 14.71 at 92.44 to Mike's 14.78 at 97.87 mph.

Round Two: These Detroit intermediates switch lanes. At the green, Mike's off like a shot with a .575 light; Steve leaves on a .699. That lead doesn't last long, however. A slow 60-foot (2.40) lets Steve pull ahead. These heavy four-speed cars can be challenging to launch. After fluctuating in the early going, the battle of drivers settles into a battle of horsepower. Mike hits all the shifts cleanly, and the Torino's top-end charge overpowers the GSX to even the race at one round apiece. The e.t.'s: Torino, 14.72 at 98.00; GSX, 14.73 at 92.36.

Round Three: Even closer reaction times (.662-Ford/.613-GSX) get the tie-breaker underway. In a virtual replay of the previous two rounds, Mike's 60-foot time is slower, this time 2.25 tenths behind the Buick. In Round Two he had enough horsepower to get past the Buick, in Round One he didn't. It's showdown time. The drivers let it all hang out, as Mike pours it on, and Steve tries to fend off the Torino's kick. Score this one for Ford as the Torino blasts through the timers with a best run of the weekend, 14.63 at 98.96. Steve runs a very consistent 14.72 at 92.83.

’71 MACH 1 429 SCJ VS. ’70 CHEVELLE SS396
Engine/hp 429 SCJ/375 402/350
Carburetion 4V 4V
Transmission C6 Select-Shift Turbo 400
Axle 4.11:1 Traction-Lok 3.31:1 Posi-traction
Weight 3,748 lbs 4,236 lbs
Round One 14.952 @ 92.83 mph 14.95 @ 92.83 mph WIN
Round Two 15.010 @ 93.08 mph 14.92 @ 92.61 mph WIN