This Muscle Car Monday we’re breaking out another forgotten classic from the heart of the muscle car era, this 1971 Ford Torino Cobra.
The Ford Torino existed in several different forms from 1968 to 1976, starting out as a sub-series to the venerable Fairlane model. By 1970, though, their roles had flipped and the Fairlane designation became subordinate to the Torino name, but then dropped altogether in 1971.
The 1971 Torino lineup consisted of 14 different models, including 4-door and station wagon versions. So unlike many other performance machines of the era, the Torino was not limited to just sports models. The standard engine was a 250 cubic-inch inline 6-cylinder, with the 302 available in some models.
The Cobra, now in its fourth year, had a downgraded standard engine, from 429 cubic inches in the 1970 model to a 351 CID in ‘71, dropping horsepower ratings from up to 375 hp to 285 hp. The gas crunch hadn’t hit yet but it’s likely that this change was a result of higher insurance rates for muscle cars.¹
Completing the performance package was a 4-speed manual gearbox with Hurst shifter, F70-14 tires, competition suspension, and functional ram air hood. Not a small car, the Cobra came in at 206.2 inches from nose to tail and nearly two tons in weight.² In all, just 3,054 Torino Cobras were manufactured in 1971.
So how did it perform? According to Cars magazine, a 1971 Torino Cobra with a Ram Air 429 rated at 370 hp turned a quarter mile in 14.5 seconds at 102 mph. Not half bad.
The Torino model continued into the mid-70s, gaining more fame with the 1974 Gran Torino model as featured on television in Starsky and Hutch, and then again three decades later in Clint Eastwood’s film, Gran Torino.
While I didn’t get a chance to talk to the owner of this Torino Cobra, I did see this car about a week later parked at the grocery store. So in addition to being a beautifully kept machine, it also appears to be a driver.
² “Torino Specifications”. Torinocobra.com. Retrieved 2014-10-06.