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Mike S.'s 1974 Gran Torino Sport®
"Starsky & Hutch"®Replica


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Mike's love of the S&H Torino began when he was about 12 years old. He watched "Starsky & Hutch" on TV every week. At that time, most people did not have a VCR, but Mike wanted photos of the Torino. So he sat in front of the TV watching the show through a camera lens so as soon as he saw the Torino he could quickly take a photo. He says he "drove his father nuts" because the flash would go off as they were watching the show. He still has the photos to this day!

When he was 17 in 1981, Mike bought his first 1974 Gran Torino for $700. It was red with black interior, a black vinyl roof, opera windows, and a 302 engine. He had the rear raised, put dual antennas on the back, cut out and repaired the rust with fiberglass, and then had it repainted. Using pinstripe tape, Mike created a white "Starsky" stripe on the car which began from the bottom of the vinyl windows and extended toward the front as it normally would.

In 1984, Mike bought a brown Gran Torino from his cousin. He drove to his cousin's house in his red Torino with a friend, and bought the car. As he was heading home in the brown Torino, with his buddy in his red Torino behind him, he started to see sparks coming out from under the hood of the car he was driving. He had to stop right in the middle of the road and open the hood. The battery was not clamped down and was touching the frame of the car. A policeman pulled up and asked what was going on. Mike told him the story, and the policeman told him he would not write him a ticket if there was a way he could tow the brown Torino. Luckily, Mike had a big thick chain with him, so he and his friend linked the cars together and towed the brown Torino the rest of the way home behind the red one!


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In 1985, Mike decided that he needed to take all the good parts from both Torinos and put them into one good one that did not have a vinyl roof. He found a bronze Gran Torino that was cheap and bought it without his parentsí knowledge - he says they would have killed him if they knew he had three Torinos at age 21! He parked it a few miles away at his girlfriend's father's house and worked on it. Mike transferred the black interior from the red Torino and the rebuilt 351C from his cousin's old brown Torino into the bronze Torino. He finally had one complete Torino again! His parents found out about the project before it was done, though, because his mother said he was gone all the time and parts kept disappearing from his cars. You can't fool your Mom!

In 1987, it was time to paint the bronze Torino like Starsky's. Mike stripped the paint to bare metal using a chemical stripper, and then he had to quickly get it painted and primed. Mike and his buddy painted it red and he blocked off the stripe area. A week later, he painted the white stripe while the car was parked in the street at the curb in front of his parents' house. The car came out great and Mike enjoyed it from 1987 until 1989 when he got married. By then, it had become something that he just lugged around with him wherever he lived, and it needed a lot of work. He reluctantly sold it in 2000 because he "didn't have the zest to fix it up again."


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In 2004, the S&H Torino fire in Mike was rekindled when the "Starsky & Hutch" movie came out. He discovered this web site and Movie Mike's, and he was hooked again! He could not believe how much Torinos were selling for when the movie came out, but he kept on searching. In August 2004, he found a 1974 Gran Torino Sport listed in the Old Car Trader's Web site. Mike called about it, and the man he spoke to told him the car was in "show condition" and had been garaged since he bought it in 1976. It had the original red paint with bucket seats, shift on the floor, and red piping in the interior. The car was completely stock and even had hub caps. It had a 351W that had 92,000 miles on it.

Mike and a friend drove six hours from Connecticut to western Pennsylvania, pulling a flatbed trailer. When they got there, Mike saw the car and "melted." The owner had, in fact, kept the car in impeccable condition. Mike took it for a test drive and bought it for $7,500. He and his friend put it on the flatbed and pulled it all the way back to Connecticut. They got home at 4:30 in the morning and Mike says he just "sat in it in the driveway for awhile, enjoying the thrill."


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During the past two years, Mike has done several things to this car:

  • He found slotted mags on eBay and polished them up by hand. He put 15x8.5 with 275/60 tires on the rear. He intends to put 15x8s on the front with 235/60/15 tires.
  • He had a dual exhaust installed with chrome tips from the original manifolds. The mufflers are Flowmaster Delta Flow 40 series, and he says they sound "mean, but not excessive."
  • Mike's friend is a machinist and created a lift kit to raise the car 1 1/2 inches in the rear. The rear coil springs sit on a steel device that he made. He put shock extensions on the shocks and "it looks great."
  • Mike replaced the original AM radio with a system from Custom AutoSound. The radio sits in the original compartment perfectly and has a Ford emblem on it. It looks like a rotary radio but it is actually digital and is linked to a 10-disc CD changer in the trunk. He also installed 6x9 speakers in the rear and put round speakers in the doors.
  • He changed the steering wheel, changed the plain dome light to the deluxe version with map light, and bought a rotary police light on eBay.


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Last September, Mike outlined the stripe on the car using fax paper and pinstripe tape. He froze an image of the S&H Torino on his laptop from the episode called "The Plague" and used that as his pattern. Once he had an outline, he taped fax paper to the car within the stripe area to see how it looked (see photo on left, above). It took a full weekend and ten alterations, but Mike finally sent the car in to be painted. The original red (see photo on right, above) is still on the car. He just had the paint shop paint the stripe area black and then cover 1/4 inch on the edges so that the white could be painted.

Mike's journey of getting a mint S&H Torino began in 1981 and ended in 2005 when he finally had this Torino painted. Twenty-four years is a long time to get it right, he says, but "good things come to those who wait." Mike says, "I'll always be a fan of this car - I enjoy it immensely!"
 

Mike made this video of his S&H Torino!

 

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Created August 25, 2006. All Rights Reserved. Photos are the Property of the Car's Owner.

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in any car that is not an official Police car is illegal in many states.
Check your own State and local regulations!