Dan Widmann's '72 Gran Torino
You've got to hand it to Dan Widmann and Steve Strope, for taking the road less traveled. To the point, outside of a period NASCAR piece, when was the last time you saw a highly mod-ified '72 Gran Torino? Uh, like never-or at least never like this! To say that Widmann's '72 is the most extreme example of the breed is clearly stating the obvious, but a more provoking line of thinking may be to ask the following question: Why hasn't it been done before?
"I've had a car like this mentally planned for years" says Strope, owner of the build house Pure Vision Design in Simi Valley, California. "I just love the fastback bodystyle, the oval track heritage, and that great rear three quarter angle stance-but it took a while to find the right guy who shared my vision." Strope had a false start several years ago with a different client, and when Widmann first approached Pure Vision about a high-end build, he actually had a '68-'70 Charger in mind. Strope's first reaction was "no more Chargers," and while the right amount of monetary persuasion might have changed his tune, Widmann listened as the car builder shared some alternative ideas. "I wanted Steve to be enthused with whatever we did, so it made sense to keep an open mind" says Widmann.
When the list of possibilities came to the Gran Torino, Strope was able to do more than simply sketch a concept of what he was thinking. On the premises was the '72 which had been started for the earlier customer before he got cold feet. With the ability to see the metal in the flesh, and discuss ideas and attributes of the car, Widmann became convinced this was the one for him. "While I've tended toward Mopar muscle in the past, my first car was a '70s Torino wagon, and I own three Fords as daily drivers. With that in mind, deciding to move forward on the Gran Torino project shouldn't really come as a shock."
Much of the chassis work had been completed prior to Widmann acquiring the pink slip, but little else-other than a Ford Racing 514 quietly resting between the fenders. There was no reason to mess with a good thing, and the 514-cube 385-series surely qualifies. Sporting large by large internal dimensions, this FRPP crate motor features Super Cobra Jet aluminum heads, a stout solid roller cam, and belts out 625 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque as delivered. Strope and company did opt to switch to a Holman Moody-supplied dual quad intake with Edelbrock carbs, along with a pair of Yates sheetmetal valve covers-all of which lend a bit of NASCAR vibe to the whole affair.
To be truthful, while the drivetrain is plenty impressive with its big-inch power, Gear Vendors overdriven Top Loader four-speed, and narrowed 9-inch, it's fairly straight forward compared to the rest of the build. Custom fabrication and quality workmanship are what takes a Pure Vision effort over the top, and everywhere you look on the '72, this theme abounds. The car is a visual knockout thanks to the PPG Lexus blue paint and flawless bodywork administered by Gold Coast Cus-tom, Inc.-not to mention a nigh perfect ride height dialed in via QA1 coilovers. Wheeltubs were required to fit the massive 20x12-inch Bons-peed rims and P335/30ZR20 Pirelli steam-rollers, but once massaged, the massive rolling stock was swallowed up by the Gran Torino's generous wheelwells. Interestingly, the hunkered down attitude was more difficult to achieve than might be imagined. With ride height a foremost part of the initial planning, it was determined that getting the exhaust out of the way would be essential to maintaining civility in the rear world of speed bumps, driveway approaches, and more. As such, Dan Fink raised the floorpans, and the frame was modified so oval 3-inch exhausts could pass right through-in tandem, the two techniques did the trick.