October 1, 1998

Here at Mustangs & Fords, we love history. Ford's long tradition in transportation and racing makes the world go round for us. We realize how true this is when we put in a 10-hour day at the office and go home exhausted, thinking Gosh, we're tired of car stuff. Then, 10 minutes later, we find ourselves browsing through the Ford Motorsport catalog. Happens all the time.

When we saw the photos and layout for Richard Rodeck's '72 NASCAR Torino driven by Bobby Unser, we knew we were onto something good. Here's a rig that is a real part of Ford and NASCAR history, and we are delighted to bring it to you.

The car bristles with so many modifications and interesting stuff that we could devote a whole issue to it. Although the car has been modified extensively, deep down in its bones it's a Ford. Unlike modern NASCAR rigs, this car came off the production line and has all stock sheetmetal. It's a real Torino, modified to go like a wet cat. That's why you see this car here in Mustang & Fords. We only feature real Fords.

What we're looking at is a Holman Moody prepared '72 Torino Gran Sport. Preparation of the car for the NASCAR circuit was extensive and included a fabricated steel tube chassis. Suspension was completely reworked and includes a full floating rear with NASCAR-style trailing arms. The completely revised front suspension features 2,000 inch-pound rate springs. There are Hurst Airheart disc brakes all around. The wheels are 15x10 Bassets with Hoosier racing slicks.

The all-steel body is painted white with Pepsi Cola blue, and the look is all business. It's a far cry from the NASCAR bodies of today. This was essentially a production automobile completely gone through by the famous race-preparation team of Holman Moody, and no detail was overlooked in making the car competitive. Holman Moody prepared many winning race cars for Ford, including the GT-40 Mark ll. The GT-40, of course, is the car that sent Mr. Ferrari back to the Le Mans drawing board several times.

Things get even more interesting when we look at the drivetrain. You may recognize those valve covers as belonging to the Blue Crescent 429. This is a '69 version of the engine that was conceived as a NASCAR mill and was subsequently offered in the street Mustang we remember as the Boss 429. The difference is that this is no detuned version. It's rated at 625 hp at 7,000 rpm and features a 13:1 compression ratio. The engine's true displacement is 429 ci. The mill has four-bolt main caps and a steel crank and is completely balanced. Dry-sump oiling is used, and all of the engine internals came from the Ford racing parts bin. Holman Moody did all of the preparation on the mill, which also features NASCAR-style aluminum heads.

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The cam has a .550-inch lift at the valve with a duration of 305 degrees. The engine is fed by a Holley Dominator four-barrel carb rated at 1,150 cfm. Notice the ram-air intake setup breathing from the cowl area at the base of the windshield.

Elsewhere in the drivetrain lives a ’68 Ford top-loader four-speed. The trans has bronze bushing gear inserts and special gear ratios. Power goes back to a Ford 9-inch differential with a nodular case. Depending on gearing, which was often changed for different tracks, the car was good for more than 180 mph, continuous operation. At this time, the cogs are a deep 4.11:1.

A quick look at the interior shows typical NASCAR elegance, and we especially like the ’64 Ford full-size steering wheel decorated with electrical tape. A full set of Stewart Warner gauges keep the pilot informed. There’s also a dry-sump oil reservoir in there to add to the overall ambiance of the Torino’s interior. It’s an all-business environment designed to keep the driver in command. The car is completely authentic and a true museum piece.

We’re confident Richard takes great pride in owning such an interesting piece of Blue Oval history. We know he loves racing and that he has owned other Ford racing classics, including a Boss 302. Richard hangs his club-member hat at the Northern California Shelby Club. Next time you’re at Willow Springs, Sears Point, or Thunder Hill, keep an eye out for number 41. That’s no ghost—it’s the best of the best comin’ at ya.