Monday, December 27, 2010

Zebra Three Under A Tree: 1975 Ford Gran Torino

I might very well get some hate mail on this one. But allow me a moment to explain.

As the baby boomer generation ages and sheds their earthly treasures, one is left to wonder what cars will have significance to future generations of collectors. Arguably, there are not many cars built after 1974 that have the craftsmanship, performance or desirability to warrant collecting. Similarly, we have to imagine how wealth will be redistributed to different countries around the world in the next twenty years of globalism and what cultural trends will influence those desires.

Remember the television show "Starsky and Hutch"? To most Americans it was an average buddy-cop show that (despite a 2004 Ben Stiller send up) remains wonderfully trapped in the 1970's. The show's popularity was partially due to a seemingly bulletproof 1975 Gran Torino that was relentlessly flogged through the streets of fictitious "Bay City". It even inspired Ford to produce a run of 1000 similarly equipped replica Torinos, featuring the distinctive "Striped Tomato" paint job.

While America has given up on "Starsky and Hutch", the rest of the world has not. It lives on in syndication, and has become a smash hit in places like Italy and the U.K. It is translated into Arabic for the Middle East, and shown in Malaysia and Venezuela. It is still a heavily licensed franchise, with everything from video games to toy cars still being produced and sold.

Go to any car show or swap meet in Europe and there is bound to be a S&H Torino replica. It will be the one car swarmed with smiling kids and photographers. This is the definition of a cultural icon.

This example on the Boise Craigslist is nothing special. It could be one of hundreds for sale across the country at any time. This one is not a Brougham (which has C-pillar windows) and seems reasonably rust free. It is overpriced by at least 50% and you will need to recommission the interior and paint in the S&H theme. I would ad a vintage police radio and the infamous portable roof beacon light for full effect. Then think Export Market.

Now let me burst the bubble of wannabe Bay City Detectives everywhere: These are horrible, horrible cars to drive. They are slow and ponderous, with a vague steering response usually indicative of large watercraft. Even "Starsky" actor Paul Michael Glaser goes out of his way to ruthlessly bash the cars in his public comments.

But who are we to question someone else's car fantasy?

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