Wayne Cook
November 1, 2004
Photos By: Jeff Ford

This '73 Ford Gran Torino Sport is a true survivor from the musclecar era, and it belongs to Jim and Cindy Batie of Graham, Washington. It's a good-looking midsize model from the end of the musclecar period; restored to like-new condition, it has undergone some interesting, yet subtle, changes.

1973 was the first year for the federally mandated, energy-absorbing bumpers. the new bumpers had to survive a 5-mph impact without damage. Consequently, many '73 models looked just like their '72 brethren, except now they had a small front porch. This car escaped that fate as the Torino was restyled anew for 1973. However, the extended front bumper was still present, so Jim decided to shave the bumper to diminish its overall size, and then set it back 2 inches from the factory location. Using '72 Torino bumper mounting brackets, he was able to achieve the clean, slimmed-down look you see here. The car now looks as if it might have been introduced in the '72 model year, which was the last year for pre-impact standard chrome bumpers. The car also features a modified hood, with a scoop from a donor '72 Sport. Jim did all the bodywork on this Torino himself and confessed the hood was a real bear. He even squirted the car back to its original, medium-bright-yellow paint job-only this time in base/clear rather than single stage enamel.

The perfect paint is set off nicely by a set of Magnum 500 wheels shod with 235/60/15 radial tires. Keeping the car surefooted is an all-new polyurethane suspension fitted to both front and rear. For minimizing body roll, heavy-duty front and rear antisway bars are incorporated, and boxed rear trailing arms steady the rear axle on launch.

Under the hood there is plenty to launch the car in the form of the big-port 351 Cleveland 4V engine. Everything is perfectly detailed and in factory-correct order. Featuring much larger intake ports than the 2V version of the 351 Cleveland, this big port beast has been treated to several high-performance upgrades, including a Comp cam, an Edelbrock intake manifold, and a Holley 600-cfm carb. It doesn't take a lot to make the big 4V Cleveland run pretty good; these engines really turn on above 4,000 rpm as the large intake ports and valves come into play. Few things handle this much power better than a factory top loader four-speed manual gearbox with the cast-iron case. Mated to a 3.25:1 ratio 9-inch axle, the car is sure to be an animal and a nasty surprise for any unsuspecting contender at a 30-mph punch.

The inner world of this Torino is nicely loaded and features the factory rally equipment group with full instrumentation, bucket seats with center console, power windows, a rear window defogger, and intermittent wipers. Jim later added a rim blow steering wheel to round out the deluxe nature of the interior.

We like the subtle and tasteful modifications that Jim and Cindy have done, and think it's a good example of how wonderful these midsize Ford musclecars are. This car is a glimpse of the best from the blue oval of that time, and proof the vintage Ford performance machines we love can look and run with the best of their musclecar brethren.