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1969 Ford Torino GT Fastback - Finally Finished
A father and son’s back-burnered project car roars to life two decades later
Perusing the 2012 Columbus Goodguys show field with row after row of drop-dead-gorgeous, finely pressed and polished sheetmetal is enough to make you trip over your own tongue. While we could argue part of that might be due to the triple digit temperatures and the insane desire for liquid refreshment at any cost, we'd be remiss if we didn't think that the majority of the tongue extension issues we were experiencing at last year's event were in fact due to the quality of the machines on the property. Nowhere did we see a more perfect example of Ford's mid-sized-muscle in Columbus than when we spotted Rusty Baldt's '69 Torino GT.
The Torino caught our jaded eyes for several reasons, including the subdued yet flawless Sterling Grey topcoat (an '11 Ford color found on F-series trucks), the sinister blacked out Mustang wheels (borrowed from Rusty's '05 Mustang GT daily driver just so he could make the show), and the creative use of stainless mesh and aluminum in the interior. However, all that paled in relation to the size of the Torino's hand-formed steel monster of a hoodscoop. When you see a hoodscoop of this proportion you generally come to the conclusion that the owner is packing an old-school 6-71 or 8-71 GMC-style blower, but Rusty proved us wrong when he started the Torino to cruise the grounds (Goodguys events allow and encourage owners to cruise the event and show off their rides). The mean rumpity-rump of a big-block was immediately evident, and there was nary a blower whine to be heard, so why the big 'scoop?
Once we caught up with Rusty and he popped the hood for us, the reason for the scoop was immediately evident. Rusty's stroked FE wore a very rare Edelbrock X-F66 Cross Ram induction setup with a pair of Holley Double Pumpers. It turns out Rusty had spotted the rare aluminum piece at the Carlisle Ford Nationals several years back and didn't have the coin for it then. However, the intake left an indelible mark in Rusty's memory and he spotted the elusive casting again two years ago at the Columbus swap meet where he picked it up for the Torino project.
"We spent a lot of time looking for the Edelbrock manifold and somehow got lucky and found it again at Columbus,"Rusty explained. The "we"is of course Rusty and his father, Russel, who originally bought the car way back in 1991 from his neighbor as a rust-free project to work on with his then 9-year-old son. A '69 Fairlane Cobra Jet passed through his father's hands many years prior and his father's passion for Fairlanes and Torinos is what launched this project.
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Original plans called for the father and son duo to restore the car to its original state, including the aqua base color and 351 small-block motivation. However, Rusty was in the middle of a motocross period in his young life and his father's time and money was limited in those leaner years. As such, the Torino just sat and waited for better times.
"When I finished high school, I sold one of my dirt bikes to try and finish the Torino. Even with my uncle Mike donating a 428 SCJ big-block to the effort, it still wasn't enough, so it sat for a few more years,"Rusty tells us.
Eventually, Rusty had enough of the Torino sitting and knew he had to finish the car once and for all.
"We pulled the engine back out and installed a Mustang II front suspension and added subframe connectors,"Rusty states. From there, the now rusty and rag tag Torino was sent to Doug Eldred at Eldred Hotrod & Collision in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. There, the crew at Eldred shaved the door handles, molding, and trim. The fender vent design was simply cut into the fender and pushed inward with additional metal added to give the vents some depth. The shop also smoothed and tucked the bumpers and relocated the fuel fill (using a Mustang billet fuel cap) before spending countless hours smoothing the body's flanks and spraying the Sterling Gray topcoat with a slick matte black over-body stripe offset by a hand-striped red pinstripe. Eldred also gets credit for the hood and scoop design as well.
"We measured it up (the intake and carbs) and sent a prop out to Doug and told him to make a hood that would fit it underneath and that's where the hood came from,"Rusty commented.
While Doug and his crew were making the body perfect, Rusty got some help from Domhoff Racing Engines to take his uncle's 428 SCJ to the next level. An Eagle reciprocating assembly found its way into the 428 block after some copious machining, and now comes in at a generous 462ci. The FE is topped with Edelbrock aluminum heads and the aforementioned X-F66 manifold wearing a pair of Holley carbs. The engine made 513 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, which moves the Torino with authority. Speaking of authority, the side-exiting MagnaFlow exhaust has its own authoritative presence and the FE stroker makes all the right music when Rusty twists the key.
Eldred Hotrod & Collision finished the Torino with a custom interior featuring Stewart Warner instruments and custom aluminum and stainless mesh accents. The stock split-bench seat was contoured and slightly reshaped, and then recovered with leather and suede to complement the machine-like atmosphere in the cabin. Eldred also handled the underpinnings, which include a fully built 9-inch rear and Wilwood four-piston brakes clamping down on 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors at all four corners.
Today, the Torino still wears Rusty's '05 Mustang FR500-style wheels as seen in our photos here, but he tells us he finally has the funds to order a custom set of Forgeline GX3 custom wheels to finish off the car. Rusty's only other plans for the Torino include adding an air conditioning system to it sometime later this year. For now, he's content with taking the Torino out for weekend fun runs, cruise nights, and shows, and letting Doug Eldred display the Torino as a calling card for his shop at big events like Goodguys, World of Wheels, and other venues. We don't think we've heard the last of Rusty here at Modified Mustangs & Fords either; no, not in the least. Having just completed a two-car garage to store the Torino in, Rusty found that the Torino seemed lonely with an empty space next to it, so he scored a clean '67 Galaxie two-door for his next project and he bought an old Lincoln sporting a 460 big-block, C6 trans, and 9-inch rear to swap the driveline into the Galaxie. We can't wait to see the Galaxie; we just hope it doesn't take two decades for it to be finally finished this time.
The FE is topped with Edelbrock aluminum heads and the aforementioned X-F66 manifold wearing a pair of Holley carbs. The engine made 513 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, which moves the Torino with authority.
Rusty Baldt's '69 Torino GT fastback
462ci FE big-block
Ford 428 FE block, deburred
Eagle 6.700-inch H-beam forged rods
Mahle forged pistons
Sealed Power rings
Eagle forged crankshaft
Edelbrock Performer RPM hydraulic cam, 0.572-inch lift, 236 degrees duration at 0.050-inch lift
Edelbrock Performer FE aluminum cylinder heads, ported to match intake
2.09-inch intake and 1.66-inch exhaust valves with double springs
Harland Sharp 1.76:1 roller rockers with HD rocker shafts
Comp Cams hardened pushrods
Vintage Edelbrock X-F66 cross ram aluminum intake manifold
Two Holley 600-cfm 4150 Double Pumper carburetors
Custom-made air cleaner
MSD Pro Billet distributor, MSD wires, and MSD coil
Holley fuel pump
513 hp, 625 lb-ft torque
Built by Domhoff Racing Engines
TCI–built C4 three-speed automatic
TCI Street Fighter 3,500-rpm stall speed 10-inch converter
Custom shifter with billet knob and reverse lockout
Ford 9-inch housing
Detroit Locker differential
3.91 Richmond gears
Hooker long-tube headers with 1¾-inch primaries and 3-inch collectors
3-inch stainless steel dual exhaust
MagnaFlow mufflers with side exiting polished tips
Front: Rod & Custom Motorsports Mustang II subframe, tubular control arms, coilover shocks, power rack-and-pinion steering
Rear: Heidts four-link for '65-'70 Mustang (modified), coilover shocks, subframe connectors
Front: Wilwood disc, 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors, four-piston calipers
Rear: Wilwood disc, 12-inch drilled and slotted rotors, four-piston calipers
Front: Ford Racing FR500-style, powdercoated black, 18x8
Rear: Ford Racing FR500-style, powdercoated black, 18x11
Front: Nitto NT555, P245/45ZR18
Rear: Nitto NT555, P285/40ZR18
Custom trim by Eldred Hotrod Shop, Edinboro, PA; including all-steel hand-formed dash with custom mounts for gauges, Stewart Warner instrumentation; door and accent panels hand-formed and bead-rolled aluminum; Grant steering wheel; custom-made shifter and console to match; and stock seats recovered in leather with suede inserts
Refinished in PPG Sterling Gray basecoat/clearcoat with satin black over-body stripe highlighted by bright red pinstripe by Eldred Hotrod and Collision, Edinboro, PA; handmade steel hood, original bumpers trimmed and tucked tight to body and painted body color; all exterior trim removed; custom fender louvers, gas filler relocated, custom mesh grille insert, blacked out window trim