By Brian Earnest
Back in 1975, the deal didn’t seem to be all that great for Bob Quast. Not only did he lose part of a digit in a work accident, but the incident somehow led him to park his beloved 1969 Ford Torino GT.
Now, 35 years later, the whole episode seems to have had a pretty happy ending. The pain of that accident has long been in Quast’s rearview mirror, and these days he has his lovely Torino back on the road and looking great, thanks to the decision years ago to put it in his garage and leave it there — a move akin to burying a favorite toy in the backyard just so you could go dig it up in the future and enjoy it all over again.
“At the time I wanted to keep the car, but money wasn’t, you know … we didn’t really have enough money to keep it,” Quast recalled. “ We had just been married and we had little kids … but I wanted to keep the car, because I figured that it was a car that some day would be sort of a halfway collector car. So it was either drive it till the wheels fell off, trade it off, or park it.
“Then I had a truck tire explode on me and it tore half of a finger off. I got $1,800 for workman’s comp for half of a finger, and we used the money to buy a used car and parked this one. I bought another Torino, actually … No, my wife didn’t really like the idea, but at that time I just said, ‘Well, it was my finger, and this is my money, and this is what I’m going to do.’”
Quast, a resident of Goodhue, Minn., decided the Torino GT would stay parked until he had the time and finances to make it like new again. And he didn’t budge on his resolve. “I parked the car and it sat for probably 20 years before I restored it. It did not move. I didn’t pull the engine on it because I would periodically run it, but I didn’t put a mile on it for at least 20 years … My son was at that age when he kept looking at it and he thought it was going to be his ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ car. I said ‘Tim, I don’t think so!’”
When Quast did finally decide to bring his Ford out of retirement, with only 30,000 miles on the odometer, the car actually didn’t need much help. The interior is entirely original. The 351-cid Windsor V-8 is basically untouched, and the body didn’t need much besides a new coat of Indian Fire paint.
“It was just basically maintenance,” Quast said. “I did repaint it the same color … There was no rust on it, but the paint was kind of faded. The engine I never pulled apart. I re-did all the brakes; all-new rubber, hoses and stuff . That’s basically all I had to do. The interior is just the way it came from the factory. Not one thing or little piece on the interior is changed. There is not a rip or tear in it. It got spared being the grocery-getter with the kids jumping in it.”
For ’69, the Ford Torino GT lineup again offered three body styles. Model 65D was the two-door hardtop, which sold for $2,848, weighed 3,173 lbs. and had a production run of 17,951 units. The convertible — Model 76D — was much rarer and only 2,552 were made. Prices for the ragtop began at $3,073 and it tipped the scales at 3,356 lbs. in showroom stock condition. Still the most popular body style was the Model 63D two-door fastback, with its $2,823 window sticker, 3,220-lb. curb weight and 61,319 units produced.
The Torino GTs were really a sportier sibling of the Fairlane 500. They came with all the Fairlane 500 goodies, plus some bells and whistles on the exterior, such as special name plaques, trim pieces and a long U-shaped stripe that started at the tail, stretched all the way to the front corners, then doubled-back and crossed over the front wheel wells and bottom half of the doors. The cars also had argent silver-finished styled steel wheels, a heavy-duty suspension, wide oval fiberglass-belted white-sidewall tires and hood scoop turn signals. Under the hood, a 302-cid V-8 was standard, but Quast opted for the 290 horses that came from the optional four-barrel 351.
“Mine’s got the 351 Windsor, four-barrel, with factory duals,” Quast said. “That makes it a little more rare. Most of them were either 302s, 390s or the Cobra Jets, so this one is a little rarer than some.
“It was kind of a unique body style. I wanted the fastback [Sportsroof], so that’s what I ordered. It was kind of like the 1966-67 Charger body line… The car has still got the original factory trailer hitch on it … And then they didn’t have electric rear defrosters, so it’s got two fans back there. That was an option with the car back then.”
Despite the healthy total of 61,000-plus Torino GT Sportsroof cars that rolled off the Ford assembly line for the 1969 model year, Quast rarely runs into other owners to swap stories with. “Very seldom,” he lamented. “They sold a lot of ’em, but they all got bailed up. They all got rusty and bailed up.
“You see a few notchbacks around, but very, very few fastbacks.”
Quast insists he still isn’t wavering with his master plan for the car. He intended all along to have a car that he could drive and enjoy, and these days he has the Torino out regularly in the summer months, racking up in the neighborhood of 1,000 miles a year.
“It is exactly the same as it was. It drives and feels exactly the same!” he says. “It’s kind of funny, after not driving it for that many years … with the handling package and stuff on the car, back then you thought it was the best thing on the road, but with rack-and-pinion steering and stuff it’s pretty sloppy, you know.
“It’s not a perfect car, so it’s a driver. That’s the fun part. That’s the reason I saved it, so I’d have something to drive someday.”
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