By: Larry D’Argis
The Fairlane name moved over from the full-size line, to become Ford’s new mid-size offering in 1962. Always a good seller, the Fairlane drew on styling from previous years and went through its first restyling in 1964. A popular model, Ford even extended its small-block performance engine options, to give the Fairlane a little added sizzle. For 1965, Ford did a partial restyle that saw the Fairlane take on a square boxy look, only to be replaced with another full makeover for 1966.
With a NASCAR rule change allowing manufacturers to race their intermediate models in ’67, Ford went back to the drawing board to tool up a new Fairlane in 1968. Along with the regular hardtop coupe, Ford introduced a new fastback coupe. The fastback roofline not only completely changed the look of the car, it also used some aerodynamics in its design, to help cheat the wind on the racetrack. Top trim level on the Fairlane 500 became the Torino GT. Available as a convertible, hardtop coupe or fastback coupe, it became Ford’s mid-size performance offering, with a full range of available options.
For Brayden Harder of Winnipeg, the Torino GT was his first car.
‘It was a rust bucket with a five-speed from a Mustang and it needed constant work to keep it running, but I loved the car’
— Brayden Harder on his first Torino GT
“It was a rust-bucket with a five-speed from a Mustang and it needed constant work to keep it running, but I loved the car,” Harder says.
While the Torino ended up being sold off, it was around 2010 when Harder began looking for another Torino GT. This time he wanted one that was solid with no corrosion issues and the original powertrain.
Scanning an online website, he spotted a 1968 Torino GT fastback for sale in Georgia. An original North Carolina car, it was clean and solid and just what Harder wanted.
“After seeing many photos and checking the seller’s references, I bought it sight unseen and had it shipped to North Dakota,” Harder says.
The transport of the car had a few tense moments. The semi-trailer hauling it and six other vehicles was caught in a snowstorm and the rig hit the ditch. A Corvette was a writeoff and several other cars were damaged, but the Torino came out of it without a scratch.
Harder’s Torino GT is finished in Diamond Blue. The colour was only offered in 1968 and it’s one of the few Torino GTs to wear it. Inside, there’s two-tone blue interior upholstery, with bucket seats, centre console, AM radio, tinted glass, tachometer and clock, with power steering and power front disc brakes, it’s a well optioned car.
Under the hood is the original 325-horsepower, 390-cubic-inch V-8, backed by a C6 three-speed automatic transmission, leading to a 3.25:1 geared nine-inch rear axle. Rolling stock is a period correct set of 14-inch American Racing Torq Thrust wheels with radial tires.
‘It was a rust bucket with a five-speed from a Mustang and it needed constant work to keep it running, but I loved the car’— Brayden Harder on his first Torino GT
Since purchasing the car, Harder has had the cylinder heads rebuilt to accept unleaded fuel, a four-angle performance valve job and heavier double valve springs. For the ignition upgrade, it’s received a Peretronix III electronic conversion module with built-in rev-limiter. Feeding the fuel mixture is an Edelbrock Performer RPM aluminum intake manifold, with Holley 750 c.f.m. four-barrel carburetor. Exhaust duties are now handled by a set of long tube headers leading to a custom dual exhaust system installed by Advance Muffler & Auto Service.
Over the past years, Harder has used the Torino as a summer driver and attended the Sunday Night Cruises at the Pony Corral Restaurant & Bar.
History shows Ford’s choice of the Torino was the right car for the NASCAR racing circuit. Driver David Pearson, driving a Holman-Moody prepared Torino, qualified on the pole 12 times and took 16 wins in 48 starts. He also scored 36 top five and 38 top 10 finishes, nailing down his second NASCAR championship.
Today the 1968 and 1969 model Torino is becoming difficult to find. While prime condition models will draw big dollars, good examples are still reasonably priced and there is a good supply of restoration parts available.