Mention the name Ford Torino to some of a certain age and they will immediately picture an image of the red-and-white ‘Striped Tomato’ Torino that featured in the 1970s TV series Starsky & Hutch.
Scholars of the historic NASCAR scene, however, are more likely to think of the Torino Talladega, the rare and remarkable muscle car that the mighty Blue Oval produced in just 750 examples during 1969 in order to meet NASCAR homologation requirements.
Based on the Fairlane Cobra fastback (or ‘Sportsroof ’ as Ford liked to call it), the two-door Talladega featured a more aerodynamic nose that lost the regular car’s inset grille and headlamps and added a flush-fit bumper fashioned from the standard rear unit and shaped to serve as a crude air dam.
The Talladega was also subtly lowered, with one of the more outwardly obvious telltale features being a matt black ‘hood’. Less apparent were the additional oil coolers for engine and power steering, the heavy-duty transmission and upgraded differential.
The result was a road-legal coupé with performance that few other production cars could match, especially in the case of later models that, in regular examples, substituted the old FE 427 ‘side oiler’ V8 with the all-new 428ci ‘Cobra Jet’.
Competition versions of the Talladega won a total of 29 Grand National races during the 1969 and 1970 NASCAR seasons, eclipsing the efforts of rivals Chrysler and Dodge and taking the laurels in the 1969 NASCAR Manufacturers’ Championship.
Of the 750 cars recorded to have been built, all were finished in either Wimbledon White, Presidential Blue or Royal Maroon – as seen on this Talladega that’s set to cross the block with Mecum. Having been built from a road car into a NASCAR replica, it’s not exactly ‘stock’ but runs a Boss 429 engine that’s fitted with numerous exotic parts and is said to produce a tyre-shredding 870bhp at 6500rpm.
Indeed, so powerful is the car that it was one of just six invited from across America to take part in the 2012 Dyno Wars contest held at Shelby American’s HQ outside Las Vegas. It has also made guest appearances at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Willow Springs Raceway, Milwaukee Mile Speedway, St Louis Gateway and, of course, the Talladega Speedway after which the model was named.
Featured in numerous hot rod magazines and with a radiator surround signed by no fewer than 17 American auto luminaries, above, including Jack Roush, Junior Johnson, Bill Holbrook, Henry Ford III, David Pearson, and Cale Yarborough, it is described by Mecum as being track ready. Perhaps more excitingly, it’s street legal, too.
1969 Ford Torino Talladega
For sale with Mecum Auctions, Las Vegas, US, October 7
Estimate on request