My Classic Car: 1968 Ford Torino GT

Dream GT
In January of 1976, I turned 16 and it was time to buy my first car. My mother and I were poor, but I had a job as a stock boy in a department store in Hollywood. I used to take the bus to work every day after school. One day a friend of the family, Ray, told us he was selling his car. Ray was a good looking former pro-baseball player my mom had dated in the late 1960’s. They met at a laundry mat on Christmas Eve in 1965. My mother, a beautiful Italian woman who came to America at age 12, invited him over for spaghetti dinner. Their romance didn’t last, but they remained close friends and Ray would visit often. Because I had no contact with my real dad, Ray became a surrogate father figure for me. Whenever I needed advice, especially about girls, I would ask his opinion. I looked up to him.

Photos provided by Joe C.

He also had my dream car, a 1968 Ford Torino GT Fastback. It was Red-Orange with a white interior. It had a 390 engine, automatic transmission with center console and bucket seats. This was the vehicle he was selling, and he wanted $1,500. My mother said,”You can’t afford it” and “I won’t let you buy a V8 because it eats too much gas.”

Therefore, to my dismay, I wasn’t able to buy the car. Instead I bought a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda for $300. It had a slant 6 engine and got good gas mileage but was a beat up car. One day the engine caught fire on the freeway and the car was totaled. Like your first love, I never forgot the Torino.

As I’ve grown older I realize that life is too short, and you should always live out your dreams. I recently bought this beautifully restored 1968 Torino GT. I drive it often and it gets attention wherever it goes. What I really like about it is the simplicity of design and its very clean lines. It’s so rare people often ask me what it is. I love the fastback and the way it handles. It has only 77,000 original miles and drives like new. For me the car represents a simpler, freer more elegant time. It’s art on wheels.

Time Machine
Part of the fun of owning this car is it’s like being in a time machine. When I drive it, I play music from the late 1960’s or my teen years. Sometimes it’s rock ‘n’ roll and sometimes it’s lounge music. While driving I’m instantly transported to this time, and particularly my memories of beautiful Los Angeles was back then. The freeways were uncrowded and people weren’t stressed out like today. The cars were stylish and made a statement about one’s personality. Did you drive a Barracuda or a Mustang? A convertible, like Joe Mannix, or a fastback like Steve McQueen in Bullitt? Sometimes I play the Mannix theme song and for a moment I’m him in 1968, in the Hollywood Hills, looking for a bad guy. It’s hard to be in a bad mood while driving this car, especially with people smiling, waving and giving you a thumbs up.

Returning Home
The Torino I have was originally purchased in Southern California on September 6, 1968 by a U.S. Marine. It remained there until its owner passed away in 2010. The one owner car was then sold to a man in Florida, who did a total restoration. In 2017 I purchased the Torino, and brought it back to its place of origin, Southern California. Coincidentally, I was raised in Southern California and moved to the east coast in 1980 where I married, got an education and started my career. Many years later I returned to Southern California. I guess in the end, we all return home.

-Joe C., California

The ClassicCars.com Journal

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