1970 1/2 Ford Falcon: Bargain Basement Torino

Despite a massive snowstorm back in February, The Year Of Our Lord 2013, things were going pretty good for me at the time. To keep it short, I’d been out of work for approximately a month, but through a mutual friend, Sunday Saunders, I was able to interview for a full-time accounting position at a local company. And I got the job. And still hold the job as of this writing. I was very happy, Anyway, back to 2013: Just after I left a voicemail message accepting the job, I started the car and prepared to drive away from the North Park Mall, where I’d been browsing at Barnes & Noble, and what did I see? This rather clean 1970 midsize Ford, parked at Olive Garden. In Winter. In the Midwest. Highly unlikely. But, wait? Is this really a Torino?

Despite the lack of Falcon scripts on the rear quarters, I believe it to be a 1970½ Falcon, of which 30,445 sedans were built. To my surprise, the Falcon sedan actually outsold the mid-line Fairlane 500, which sold 25,780 copies, as well as the Torino sedan, which sold 30,117.

The ’70½ was a bargain-basement Torino whose function was filling the gap left when the 1966-70 Falcon ended production on January 1, 1970.

You see, Federal regulations requiring a steering column-mounted ignition switch were taking effect, and so the compact 1970 Falcon, with its dash-mounted switch, had to be discontinued after December 31, 1969.

The Torino-based unit was ushered in to finish out the year but did not return for ’71. Although it did, to an extent, albeit deemed the plain-Jane Torino. My buddy Sal Darigo, Jr. owned one in 1988-91! He assures me it was the same exact car, except for nomenclature. So, why do I think this red survivor is a Falcon? For starters, it appears that the next-lowest variant, the Fairlane 500 sedan, got chrome-trimmed door frames that are conspicuously absent from our red example.

Also, please note that in the brochure shot further up that while the Falcon had no grille ornament, the 500 wore a red, black and chrome Ford shield.

Unfortunately, this one is missing its grille; I’m wondering if it’s in the trunk, as it appears the owner might have removed it in order to block off the radiator with cardboard. Or it’s just a victim of parking by Braille!

Whoever ordered this one must have wanted a sharp ride on a budget, as the red paint, black vinyl top and Ford’s ultra-cool dog-dish hubcaps made it somewhat sporty, despite its four doors. I  thought this was a Torino when I first glimpsed it off in the distance.

As a U.S. example, this one has “FORD MOTOR COMPANY” emblazoned on its hubcaps, unlike the “FORD FORD FORD” as Brazilian Fords sported. I’m not kidding. Also note the lack of wheel-opening moldings, standard on the Fairlane 500.

Furthermore, the basic black interior looks like a match to the ‘70.5 brochure picture. Unfortunately, the sole interior picture I took was slightly out of focus, so I can’t read the series badge above the glove box. Curses!

If that isn’t enough for you, here is a Fairlane 500 I spotted at a car show last year. As you can see, the upholstery is much nicer, and the Fairlane 500 plaques on this blue one are absent from our featured vehicle.

The 500 also got two chrome accents on each front fender. It is easier for me to believe that someone removed all the Falcon badges from this car=probably during a repaint.

If it was indeed a Fairlane 500 like the blue one, why in the heck would someone would put in a taxicab interior and remove the Fairlane 500 scripts from the doors? Doesn’t make sense, me auld son.

So common sense dictates that this is indeed a ’70 1/2 Falcon. While I can imagine many Falcon two-doors being saved over the years, I can also imagine that most sedans were unceremoniously driven into the ground (also true of 1968-72 Novas), which made this find all the more remarkable. A new job, a good old-fashioned Midwestern snowstorm and a rare old car. It was quite a week.

10 Replies to “1970 1/2 Ford Falcon: Bargain Basement Torino”

  1. AvatarSal Darigo Jr

    My ’71 Torino was the Medium Green Metallic twin to this car. I bought her for $450 from an 89-year-old man who had bought her new and just lost his license after backing into a light pole and crunching the rear right quarter. She was an odd duck; a post sedan with a 302, automatic, power steering, radio, and (what sealed the deal) factory air. It probably hadn’t been waxed since the predelivery checkout and the upholstery was shot, but it only had 55,000 miles and purred like a kitten.

    This car’s grille was probably trashed long ago. They were flimsy plastic that crumbled if you gave them a stern look. Mine went to Valhalla when I reached up for a handhold while getting out from under after an oil change, so for the last year I owned it, mine had an equally malevolent maw that wasn’t helped by the patches of primer on the leading edge of the hood.

    As a dumb kid, I didn’t appreciate what I had at the time; it was just a heap that got me to class and work. Nowadays I wish I had another.

    Reply
  2. AvatarLaurie Kraynick

    Tom I had no idea it was a federal regulation that put ignitions on the steering column. What grave ill did this save us from?

    Reply
  3. Avatarstingray65

    I’d bet money that the story of this car goes something like this: A widow or old maid on social security and looking for good honest transportation on a tight budget, buys the most basic model on the lot and spends 20+ years driving it to church on Sundays. She finally dies or goes to assisted living and a grandchild or nephew inherits the low mileage old car and keeps it on the road until 2013 when Tom photographs it.

    Reply
  4. AvatarGeorge Denzinger

    I think your guess is right, judging by the lack of trim on this car, it appears to be a Falcon. Back in the day, several buddies of mine had some variation of this version of 1970-71 Falcon/Fairlane/Torino body. I had the previous version of the same car, a 1969 Torino GT notchback, so I was pretty familiar with them. I found your statistic interesting as I had no idea the Falcon outsold the other two models. My experience was always with either the Fairlane or Torino of this generation. I remember seeing Falcon badged versions of this car and all I really knew about them is that they were for the skinflints and credit challenged. But by the time I really got to know these cars, they were pretty used and abused. Similar to Sal’s story above, these were just used cars and in the rust belt, usually pretty decrepit. 10 year old cars then were much different than 10 year old cars are now; typically back then they were on their way to the junkyard. As long as it appears to have been maintained, I would buy a 10 year old car now and daily drive it.

    In a way, I would love to have one of these Falcons. Even if it was saddled with the anemic 250-6 and a three on the tree, in a weird way it would be kind of fun.

    Reply
  5. AvatarJohn C.

    I wonder what the hold up on the Maverick four door was that caused the Falcon to extend in two forms.

    The interesting thing to me is it pointed to how close in price the intermediates were to the compacts especially at wholesale so when there was going to be a gap in compact 4 doors, why not try to drop a big hint to the customer to check out the base intermediate.

    Reply
  6. AvatarRande Bell

    I read somewhere that buyers of these 70.5 Falcons were sent a package of ‘Torino’ emblems from Ford, in the event that they wanted to change model ID to what these soon became anyway.

    Reply
  7. AvatarJeff Zekas

    My son owned this car: racing head 289 motor, white with blue racing stripes, flow master exhaust, very cool. He drove it until one rainy day, when he went off the road, into a ditch, and totaled the beast.

    Reply
  8. AvatarCarmine

    I remember one of these jumbling my brain when I was a kid(way pre internet era) I used to see one in traffic regularly being driven by an old man and in my heart and head I KNEW this was a Torino….but the emblems said Fa lcon, which didn’t compute, I knew what a Falcon looked like, we even had some family photos of the little 2 door Falcon wagon my grandparents had for a few years. I didn’t get an answer till I got a “Ford 1908-1988” book as a gift for Christmas or my birthday and there I found the answer that had been bugging me for years…..

    Reply

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