Larry Jewett
January 1, 2004

The story is usually unbelievable when you hear it: A person buys a piece of art at a garage sale, takes off the frame, and finds another artwork beneath it. Lo and behold, it's a rare masterpiece, worth much more than the buyer paid.

It isn't fiction and it isn't limited to the art world. When he was a teenager, John Bricault of Charlton, Massachusetts, had an attraction to this Torino. He couldn't explain it; he just seemed to like the car. It was red and it looked cool, like red cars do.

While driving the car, John noticed a chip in the paint near the side mirror. Underneath was the color green. Curiosity set in, and the car was decoded to reveal it was originally a Grabber Green C-code 429 Torino. That was the driving force behind a decision by John and his father to restore the car to near original status.

A painter by trade, John took on the bodywork himself. "We stripped the entire body to bare steel, and we found the original paint under the red; even the factory blacked-out hood was there," John said.

The process of buying parts for the restoration stretched well over a decade. Some of the parts simply needed to be replaced, but others were subjected to the abuse young owners are notorious for. "While the car was still red, my buddy and I were out cruising and we were listening to AC/DC, banging and punching the dashpad like it was a set of drums. It was cracked from one end to the other and we thought we were cool. Then, I had to buy a good used one for the sum of $475."

There were plenty of other parts that had to be harvested to get the car looking like it does today. That look isn't concours, as John prefers his own touches.

"I opted for the black rims and hubcaps for that bare-bones sleeper look. The car came with the Magnum 500 rims; but, hey, this is how I want it. I can always buy the rims to make it look right," John explained.

He also added the shaker hood, believing it to be an element that makes the Torino "special." The car has a 429 engine that has been worked over, and John hopes to acquire an original '71 429 CJ (the CJ was an option for the '71 models). The fate of the original engine is unknown.

When it comes to the numbers, John utilized Kevin Marti's records at Marti Auto Works. The figures found the car to be one of the 3,054 Cobras made for that model year. Of that total, fewer than 200 had John's engine and transmission codes. There were 198 made with the paint and trim codes found on the plate. Altogether, there were only 408 made with the paint code. The car was sold in Virginia, where it went to its first buyer on November 23, 1970.

Options on this Torino included the aforementioned CJ engine, a C6 Select Shift Cruise-O-Matic, an electric clock, power front disc brakes, an AM radio, and F60x15 raised white-letter tires. John found the original buildsheet under the seat of the car when he purchased it in 1987.

It also goes nicely with a '68 429 Mustang sitting in John's recently expanded garage

The Torino has a look that grabs attention and trophies, and this is one car he plans to keep. "My father always told me, 'Don't get rid of that Torino.' I guess father knows best. It's a survivor that represents Ford muscle three decades later."

We call it a masterpiece uncovered.