Karl X

Zen and the Torino restoration.

My Restoration Website: www.mechanknuckle.com

In 2011 I lived with my wife in Oakland, Calif. I have NO idea what compelled me, but I started looking through the Bay Area Craigslist posts for Torinos for sale. Actually, thinking about it, while living in Atlanta a year earlier, there was this nice powder blue `69 Torino GT fastback that used to visit the local coffee shop. Every time she’d drive past, I’d get a bit giddy inside. I just love fastbacks, but more about automotive aesthetics later.

I clicked on the Craigslist ad for a 1968 Torino GT in October 2011. The car was about an hour away in Manteca, in the nondescript depths of the Central Valley. Clearly the residents of that fine town have damn good taste in cars.

Here are some specs of this particular specimen:

1968 Torino GT Sportsroof

DSO - San Jose

302 2bbl

C4 with column shift

8″ open rear with 2.79 gears

Red on red with buckets, no console.

Power steering

Non-power brakes with drums all around

AM radio

She’s a basic no-nonsense model of stylish design from Dearborn.

My soon-to-be adopted baby was Ford candy-apple red with white “C” stripes, at least originally.

At this point in her life, however, she was a sad, flat, dark red with rust stains on the door and upper quarters where the “C” stripe had been half peeled off. The other side had just a small section of the stripe remaining. I assume the previous owner got tired of the stripe, and thought it would just peel off nice and clean like a vinyl Colorforms character. Remember those? I didn’t care. I fell in love, bitten by the classic car bug once again.

This was my Christine.

I called the number, got the details from the owner, and just had to take a look at this car. I called my wife, Mary, who was at the hair salon, and asked her if we could go take a look at the car that day, no later. “Honey, as SOON as you’re done with your hair, let’s GO!”

The car belonged to the second owner’s son, whom I’ll call Tim, who was a nice enough guy. His dad drove the car since the 1960s until he died. The car was off the road for the past seven years, sitting under a car port. If it didn’t sell, he said he might make plans to restore it, which didn’t bode well for the Torino. He showed me pics of a 1970 Mach 1 that he installed T- tops in years ago. That still makes me cringe. How could I in good conscience allow this butcher to claim another victim? After explaining how it was a time-consuming and expensive undertaking, I knew she was going to be mine.

Tim started it up. She ran rough, blew a little bit of smoke and chugged a bit as if one cylinder in the 302 didn’t feel up to the task.

The lights, gauges and wipers worked, so I knew the electrical system was OK. It moved back and forth so the C4 tranny was good enough for me, because the moment I saw the car, my mind’s eye had an instant image of what she’d look like when I was done. The original interior was faded, tired and torn, but the essentials were there.

A primer junkyard fender replaced the original up front. There were several medium sized dents around the hull plus some dings in the roof and hood. It needed work, but I was really inspecting for RUST. For me that was a no-deal situation. This however was a California car with a lot of dealer undercoating, so she was pretty solid. From underneath, floorboards were perfect. There was rot around the rear panel supports, but the rest was just some surface corrosion. The guys back east would kill to have such a rust free car. It was a keeper.

Lucky me.

I truly have the most wonderful wife in the world. She’s a woman men would kill to have as a mate. Why? Well, among many reasons, she was totally supportive in buying this car and continues to be supportive in restoring the car. She really appreciates classic cars too! Thank you dear for being all in with me.

So after a little bit of dealing we went to the bank for earnest money and the next day...

I brought a trailer.

2-1/2 years + hundreds and hundreds of hours, thousands and thousands or dollars later- I completed the restoration of my Torino, (named Carmen). We attend cruise-ins and car shows regularly, where she has has a lot of admirers. She's mine to keep, hopefully forever.

Why the zen part you ask? I didn’t realize it when I began the resto, but the hundreds of hours spent: planning, calculating, engineering, cleaning, grinding, sanding, wrenching, etc. provides plenty of alone time for deep thinking, meditation, meaningful contemplation and just daydreaming. I wanted to share this experience because I know many of you are contemplating or planning a restoration project. I hope you can appreciate automobile restoration on a molecular level as I have with Carmen.

Visit the complete Torino restoration at my website: www.mechanknuckle.com

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