The Torino is a crowd pleaser...
The Torino is a crowd pleaser wherever it goes, and this is especially true on the autocross.
As unlikely as it is to find a rust-free project car in the Midwest, Mark lucked out when he spotted a two-owner Torino on eBay with just 61,000 original miles. “The car had been listed a few times before, but didn’t sell. The owner was a purist, had used all NOS parts, kept it all original, and never restored it,” Mark recalls. “Before the owner agreed to sell the car to us, he wanted to meet us at the shop to find out what we were going to do to it. He was shocked to hear that we planned on building a big fuel-injected stroker motor, install a full autocross suspension, and take it racing. His eyes got all big and he was reluctant to sell it to us, but fortunately he needed the money and we worked out a deal.”
Once back at the Bowler Performance Transmissions shop, the crew immediately pulled the stock 351W small-block and C4 trans, but debated on what to do with the body. “We thought about doing a full restoration on the body, but decided that the original paint looked pretty good and we actually liked the patina,” Mark says. “Not only did this allow us to stick with a reasonable budget, but now we don’t have to be nervous when beating on the car because it doesn’t have a $40,000 paintjob. I have a high-dollar Camaro, so it’s nice to have a car you can just hop in and enjoy. The plan was to use quality aftermarket parts to fully update the motor, driveline, and chassis while retaining the original look of the car.”
Purposeful patina best describes...
Purposeful patina best describes the Torino’s skin. The paint is faded, and the body panels aren’t completely straight, but those elements merely add to the car’s cone-dodging appeal.
To give the suspension the full Pro Touring treatment, Mark turned to RideTech. Up front, the crusty underpinnings were replaced with a set of RideTech control arms and coilovers, along with a Hellwig sway bar. Out back, the vintage factory leaf springs were replaced with a RideTech four-link conversion, complete with a coilover setup. Sticking it all to the asphalt are 18-inch Forgeline ZX3 wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich g-Force rubber. Scrubbing off the prodigious inertia generated by more than two tons of heft are enormous six-piston Baer clamps and 14-inch rotors up front, matched with four-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors in the rear. While the specs look great, can such a heavy machine actually get the job done on a tight autocross course? You bet. “Everybody asks how a big car like this handles, but it’s very competitive on the autocross. With an experienced driver, it finishes in the Top 10 at Goodguys events,” Mark says. “With the stock suspension, there was lots of body roll and the steering was horrendous. After installing the RideTech hardware, the difference was night and day. We also added an RRS power steering rack, which helped tremendously with steering accuracy and feel.”