As you may have deduced from the title of this story, the owner, Gunnison Jones, isn't old enough to drive just yet, but that hasn't stopped him from getting the Gran Torino out on the streets and being seen. When Gunny made the deal for the Torino with his grandpa to procure the car seven years ago, Grandpa Bob Stump said that the Gunny and his father, Ron Jones, needed to be on the title together until he was old enough. This story, however, begins long before 14-year-old Gunnison Jones was even born.
Back in 1972, Ron's father, Dave Jones, purchased a Phillips 66 service station in Colorado. Ron would eventually head over to Arizona for college, where he met his wife, Vanessa. After a visit to Ron's hometown of Loveland, Colorado, the couple finished up school and moved there. They bought into the family service station business, and Ron started tinkering with body- and paintwork on the side, a skill that he had picked up working at Dick Adam's Specialty Car (Phoenix, Arizona) while in school.
"I got a lot of good restoration knowledge while working with Dick Adam at Specialty Car," Ron told us. "We're still good friends today." Ron's hobby turned into a SEMA show build and things started rolling to the point where Ron eventually opened up his own shop, Ron Jones Garage, which now turns out top-notch builds for the biggest shows.
"We're totally into cars," Ron says. "We've traveled all over the country going to shows; we went to SEMA last year, and Gunny ended up being on the SEMA Overhaulin' show." Gunny was just 13 at the time, but he obviously had a thing for cars, and that led him to his Grandpa Stump in Arizona.
Bob Stump, Vanessa's father, bought the Gran Torino you see here back in 1972. It was Bob's first brand-new car and he ordered it line by line at the dealership. Bob was still driving it daily up until the late '90s, when he finally tucked it away in storage. Thankfully, Arizona's hot, dry climate kept things nice and rust-free.
A deal was struck and the Gran Torino would once again hit the streets, though it was going to shed its '70s-vintage appearance for a more contemporary look. The yellow exterior with brown interior and white wall tires just had to go, as did the tired 351 Windsor under the hood.
As clean as this bone-stock ride was, it would be cleaned up further with the deletion of the body side trim and emblems. Gunny picked out the matte black color scheme, which accents the smoothed out look. One of Ron's pet peeves with black cars is having an exhaust system that blows the dirt up and onto the vehicle. To that end, they modified the rear valance to accept a pair of tail pipes, which are trimmed out with machined bezels to dress it up. Their high exit point makes sure the dust disturbing tail wind is kept to a minimum. Another simple modification was the use of Harley Davidson headlights. Left over from a customer project, they fit the Torino perfectly. "The essence of low-budget," Ron noted.
The new body mods weren't going to look good with a stock ride height, so to remedy that, a universal air suspension kit from RideTech was purchased and modified to fit the Torino (there isn't a specific kit available for Torino). With the smoothed-out body tucking over the Intro Saltster hoops, this is one serious-looking ride now.
On the inside, Gunny's mother, Vanessa lobbied for the contrasting red interior, and the black-on-red combo really pops. A few additional touches from Billet Specialties updated the interior space nicely.
With the Gran Torino being Gunny's first car, his father, Ron, decided that while the choked down two-barrel Windsor had to go, his son didn't need to boil the back tires. One of Ron's customers had a Cleveland engine handy and after dressing it up, it looked right at home between the Torino fenders. The stock C6 is doing just fine behind the Cleveland, and while the 3.33 gears allow for great cruising, the higher stall speed from the A-1 converter helps get the big black beast up and moving quickly.
Since completing the Gran Torino's makeover, Gunny and Ron have been hitting the local car shows and the matte black muscle car has been well received. Future plans call for a 5.0-liter Coyote crate engine, but Gunny's license is likely ahead of that on the list. He's still only 14. Until then, his chariot awaits.
Ron and Gunnison Jones' '72 Gran Torino
'70 Ford 351 Cleveland small-block V-8, built by American speed and custom (Loveland, CO)
Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold
Edelbrock 650-cfm carb
March Performance accessory drive
Aluminized steel 2.5-inch tubing fabricated by Scott Stark of Collins muffler (Loveland, CO)
Factory exhaust manifolds
Hooker Aero chamber mufflers
Ford C-6 automatic
A-1 10-inch torque converter, 2,100-rpm stall speed
Ford 9-inch housing
Front: Stock upper/lower control arm with Ridetech air-over-shock
Rear: Stock triangulated factory four-link with boxed control arms and Ridetech air-over-shock
Front: Stock Ford Gran Torino disc
Rear: Stock Ford Gran Torino drum
Front: Intro Saltster, 18x9
Rear: Intro Saltster, 20x10
Front: BFGoodrich g-Force KDW, P245/45ZR18
Rear: BFGoodrich g-Force KDW, P265/50ZR20
Custom red Ultra Leather upholstery; matching red carpet; Billet Specialties steering wheel and window cranks
Dupont Hot Rod Black paint by Ron Jones; bodywork by Ron Jones Garage (Johnny Sparks, Roc, and Jose); Harley Davidson headlights; rear valance modified for exhaust tips; all side moldings and rocker trim deleted; Pinstriping by Bill Pratt