Family Fastback – Charles James’ 68 Ford Torino GT
Charles James’ 68 Ford Torino GT has earned its stripes as a Family Fastback since it rolled off the production line brand new. It’s not common in modern times for the same family to own a car for a half century, so when I met Charles I was curious to know the Fastback’s story. Charles was more than happy to tell me all about the family Ford.
“The car was purchased by my Dad in September 1967 less than a month after I was born” James said. ‘Dad paid a little over $3,300 for the car. It was his first new car and is pride and joy (second to me). At that time he was working two jobs to makes ends meet as his second child had just been born. Dad traded in a 1958/9 Ford Skyliner Hardtop Convertible, and regretted how little he got for it in trade, especially as they became a collector car only a few years later. Because of this, he held on to the Torino.”
The fond memories continued. “This was the car I grew up in. We would go to the drive in movies and I would lie on the back partial tray under the rear window. This is also where I would sleep on long road trips (The days before seatbelts and child seats laws). We lived in San Jose, California and my grandparents were located in Eastern Washington State. We would often drive to visit them, and it was on one of these road trips when the car sustained its only significant damage. We were on Siskiyou pass heading North on Interstate 90 when an elk came bounding up the steep hill on the side of the road hitting the passenger fender, hood, and windshield. Luckily no one was hurt, but there was damage to the Torino’s fender and hood.”
As a result of that incident, and the fact I was spending more money on gas than I was making at work resulted in the car getting parked in 1984. The Torino was rarely driven after that. Likely sometime in the early 1990s, my Dad replaced the brake booster and drove the car to his retirement property near Spokane, WA. The Fastback sat both outside and inside of his shop. Dad always talked about restoring the car, but never did.”
“In 2012 my Dad died suddenly, and the GT was in his shop when the estate was settled. My three sisters offered me the car. Despite my wife’s protesting, I accepted, and transported the car to our house in Walla Walla, WA. It was there the old Ford was kept inside our shop until we moved to Coos Bay, OR and sold the property.”
The process was clean and easy from the start of the restoration. MetalWorks took the 68 Ford Torino GT from ground zero of acid dipping the body to driving out the door. Externally the GT retains an overall stock appearance, but with many performance upgrades under the shiny new paint. The original 390c.i. engine was treated to an Edelbrock top end kit with FiTech EFI delivering the fuel. The radically improved handling and performance stem from a combination of HEIDTs suspension components front and rear, and Wilwood disc brakes all around.
The final package is a blue oval beauty with performance and handling that would make James’ late father proud. Clint Eastwood might even approve!