Owner Marks 50 Years Of Driving 1974 Ford Gran Torino Sport

NEW MILFORD, CT – Gary Hults of New Milford didn’t intend to own his 1973 Ford Gran Torino Sport for 50 years. 

“It’s one of those things I’ve often heard people say, ‘Oh, I wished I had my first car, second car I ever owned’ and when I bought it, I didn’t do that with the intention of doing that but it’s just something that happened,” he said.

It has served him well over the years, too. The Torino wasn’t new when he purchased it on May 5, 1974. “The car was owned by a Ford factory representative. If you look on the sticker, it’s made out to White Plains Marketing Group,” Hults reported.

Gary Hults and his 1974 Ford Gran Torino Sport

“He worked in White Plains but he would drop the car off in Danbury, car pool to New York and come home and then take it home with him. He was going to sell the car and my brother told me about it.”

Hults’ brother worked for a Lincoln-Mercury dealer. “The car listed for $5,400 brand new. I paid $2,800 one year later with 14,000 miles on it,” he said, revealing that it now has more than 250,000 miles on the odometer.

“It’s actually my second car I ever owned. My first car was a ’63 Ford Fairlane that had a 260 (-cubic-inch engine) with a four speed. This was just an opportunity. It was a much nicer car, heavier car, nice looking… It became a daily driver along with my Fairlane.”

Hults didn’t drive the Torino once the snow started falling. It always got put away. “I drove my other car in the winter with snow tires. It’s what we did back in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said.

See the 1974 Ford Gran Torino Sport in action in this YouTube video…

The Torino was Ford’s intermediate line and the company built different models between 1968 and 1976. There were Cobra and GT versions early on. The Gran Torino Sport debuted in 1972, replacing the GT. It was a two-door model and was initially offered in two versions – hardtop or “SportsRoof.”

The Gran Torino Sport had such accessories as color-matched racing mirrors and body-length laser stripes on each side. Hults’ car gets noticed when he takes it out. “They always ask is it is a ‘Starsky & Hutch’ car and it’s not a ‘Starsky & Hutch’ car. It’s more like a ‘Gran Torino’ movie car,” he said.

The Gran Torino Sport is powered by a 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V8 engine with four-speed manual transmission. It also has power windows, power door locks and air conditioning. 

“I rebuilt the motor for the first time at 202,000 miles. A friend and I, we rebuilt it then, we added another 100 horsepower. It still has the original rear end and transmission,” Hults said.

“It’s been a fantastic car. Very low maintenance. I’m a mechanic so I change the oil every 2,000 miles. When I rebuilt the motor at 200,000 miles, it was spotless inside.” 

In 2006, Hults began what he called a “nightmare” restoration of the Gran Torino Sport that lasted two years. It had developed a bit of body rot that required attention. He found the replacement parts that he needed in Georgia. 

Work that should have taken one month took four months instead. Chrome elements that got sent out to be redone came back chipped and had to be returned and redone, a process that took a total of 10 months. Everything was then sent out for final assembly.

It wasn’t until March 2008 that he got it back. “Many times I thought of giving up on it,” Hults said. 

It still looks good. “It probably averages 2,000 miles a year in nice weather. I don’t take it to the mall or anything like that. I’ve owned it so long that I had car seats in it for my kids and, after I had it all redone, I had car seats in it for my grandkids.”

Hults has no interest in parting with the Gran Torino Sport. “Money couldn’t replace it. I’ll just pass it on. I have two sons. They’ll have to duke it out,” he said.

(A version of this story originally appeared in the “Republican-American” newspaper on May 8, 2021.)

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy prep school, he holds a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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