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

View Photo Gallery