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?
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.