Jim Smart
September 4, 2007

This '71 Torino GT convertible belongs to Mark and Dawn Brandli of Delton, Michigan. It was purchased as the result of a midlife crisis that began when Mark turned 40, and led to a chase that went from Michigan, through Georgia, and finally into Texas to this Torino.

Mark purchased the GT from a Texan who was its third owner. That was a while ago, as the car has been in the Brandli family for over 14 years. The original intent was to use the convertible for weekends and cruise-in events, but once Mark got the car home, the whole project "just sort of snowballed from there." Actually, the discovery of a little rust in the cowl area led to a complete restoration, with original condition being the goal. Five years of careful and ongoing work has resulted in the car you see here.

Any {{{Ford}}} fan would love to have a beautiful Torino just for the fun of it. But because this Torino is both a GT and a convertible, it's also rare, with only 1,613 Torino GT convertibles produced in 1971. That makes this combination the rarest of all the '71 Torino offerings, and this one has just 63,700 miles showing on the odometer. The fact that it has a 351 Cleveland engine for power sweetens the deal even further.

Mark's no stranger to high-performance cars, and he has owned an interesting example from each of the Big Three. These include a '66 Shelby GT 350, a '69 427 Corvette, and a '70 Challenger RT with the 440 engine. He has a tendency to go for Fords, however, and clearly it was impossible to resist this bright red Torino GT convertible.

In 1970, Ford began production on the new 351 Cleveland engine, which employed a splayed or canted valve arrangement. The 351 Cleveland debuted as an entirely new engine. It shared no interchangeable parts with the 351ci Windsor engine, which had been introduced the year before in 1969.

The Torino interior shows factory perfection. Every detail looks like new right down to the deluxe door panels, Rim-Blow steering wheel, and quadruple air-conditioning registers. The factory floor console is especially nice.

In the fall of 1970, when a 351 4V Cleveland was installed into Mark and Dawn's Torino, the engine was still a new animal and a breed apart from other Ford V-8s with their more conventional in-line valve arrangement. The 351C was a middleweight champion and was offered by Ford in two versions. The 4V, which featured cavernous intake ports for big breathing ability, was installed into many Ford high-performance cars between 1970 and 1974. This is the engine installed into Mark and Dawn's car. The 2V version of the Cleveland had more moderately sized intake ports and valves, and was installed into many passenger cars during this period.

How did Mark and Dawn's car get to look like this? A lot of hard work that began with stripping the whole body down to "a bare metal tub." Then Mark restored everything on the car pretty much all by himself. All body panels were carefully aligned, the bodywork done, and the original bright red color applied. It was then topped off with the optional Laser Stripe kit. Experienced at graphic creations, Mark also produced new labels for the entire vehicle. The carpeting, upholstery, and convertible top were also meticulously done by Mark to factory standards.

To keep his Torino project moving, Mark received a lot of encouragement from the Fairlane Club of America, and everywhere you look on this car it's plain to see he's motivated. We think that finding the discipline to follow through on every little detail indicates Mark's midlife-crisis therapy has been successful. We can understand how focusing on a beautiful red Torino convertible like this one would certainly be just the right treatment.

'71 Torino V-8 Engine Availability
Displacement Carb HP TQ CR Option Cost
302 2V 210 296 9.0:1 $95
351C 2V 240 355 9.5:1 $140
351W 2V 240 355 9.5:1 $140
351C 4V 285 370 10.7:1 $188
429 4V 360 480 10.5:1 $282
429CJ 4V 370 450 11.3:1 $374
429SCJ 4V 375 450 11.3:1 $533

Photo Gallery

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Back in 1971, these Goodyear Polyglas GT F60-15 tires were considered big, and the raised white letters were also the high-performance standard. Notice also the GT emblem that fits over the rocker molding and the optional Laser Stripe.

Cleveland 2V and 4V: How they differ
This is the 4V version of the 351 Cleveland for 1971. There was a big difference between the 351 Cleveland 2V passenger car engine and the 4V high-performance engine. Besides a healthy increase in the compression ratio and two additional throttle bores, there were profound differences between the cylinder heads furnished on each engine. The "two-barrel" Cleveland had 2.04-inch-diameter intake valves and 1.67-inch-diameter exhaust valves. The intake port diameter for the 2V cylinder head was an already healthy 2.02 with a 1.84 diameter exhaust port. When we step up to the 4V heads, the numbers get much bigger. The intake valve size is now king sized at 2.19 inches, with a 1.71-inch diameter on the exhaust valve. The intake port diameter on the 4V heads is 2.50 inches, while the exhaust port size was increased to 2.00 inches.

The Details
'71 Torino GT convertible
Owner: Mark and Dawn Brandli, Delton, MI]

351 Cleveland 4V
10.7:1 compression

C6 three-speed automatic

3.00 gears

Original factory 2-1/4-inch exhaust system

Front: Stock original coil spring
Rear: Stock original leaf spring
Factory power steering

Front: Stock disc
Rear: Stock drum

Front: Magnum 500 steel wheels, 15x7
Rear: Magnum 500 steel wheels, 15x7

Front: Goodyear Polyglas GT, F60-15
Rear: Goodyear Polyglas GT, F60-15

High-backed bucket seats with white Comfort Weave upholstery
Factory console with floor shift
Rim blow steering wheel
Power windows
Factory AM/FM radio

Bright red two-stage enamel
All body and paint work by owner

'71Torino Production
Torino GT fastback31,641
Torino GT convertible1,613
Torino Cobra 3,054
Torino four-door sedan29,501
Torino two-door hardtop37,518
Torino 500 four-door sedan35,650
Torino 500 four-door hardtop12,724
Torino 500 two-door hardtop89,966
Torino 500 fastback11,150
Torino Brougham four-door hdtp4,408
Torino Brougham two-door hdtp8,593
Torino wagon21,570
Torino 500 wagon23,270
Torino Squire wagon15,805
Ranchero Custom12,678
Ranchero GT3,632
Ranchero Squire2,595