Gran Torino

Starsky and Hutch was one of my favourite TV shows when I was a kid, and it was a big hit on Australian television in the seventies. It was crime-action television based in Southern California and was compulsory viewing each week.

It became one of my favourite shows because of Starsky's car, a 1974 Ford Gran Torino, red with the L-shaped strip along each side. The Gran Torino would have plenty of oversteer in the car chase scenes whilst leaning heavily through any corner. So when Starsky attached the blue light to the top, it was the best police car on television.

In the late 1980s, whilst travelling in the US, I had an opportunity to purchase my very own 1975 Gran Torino Station Wagon. Of course, I didn't need to buy a car so big, but I was undoubtedly influenced by Starsky's red tomato 12 years earlier.

It was a huge car, the biggest I had ever seen, with a 351 cubic inch V8 engine and an automatic gearbox. I think it needed that big engine to get it off the line. It had a bench seat across the front, column shift automatic, and brakes that had lots of trouble stopping a 2-tonne car.

I didn't own the car very long, but it did serve its purpose gracefully. Then, unfortunately, a traffic accident put a big dent in the side, and I sold the car for parts.

I loved driving that car, and it holds a special place in the long list of vehicles that I have owned. But, as the cliché goes, they don't make cars as they used to, which is undoubtedly true for the Ford Gran Torino.

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