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Occupant's 1976 4-door

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    Posted: 10-April-2011 at 6:25AM
I am consolidating old posts and stuff from my CarDomain page and other things I have into one thread about my car. All non-technical updates will go here and I'll ask individual questions in the other forums. Here we go...

In the spring of 1996 I was riding in the third row of my Dad's Celebrity wagon when we got rear-ended...HARD...by a teenager in a Cutlass Supreme. The car was written off. At the time I was driving a 1987 Chrysler New Yorker turbo that I was...kinda...making payments on. My parents decided to take that away and trade it in on another car after their insurance paid off the wagon. I was left without a car so I went to a buy-here-pay-here lot called 121 Auto Sales in Lewisville Texas and picked out a Silver Blue Glow 1975 Ford Gran Torino sedan for $1200, with $300 down and $50 a week payments. I paid that car off and went to enroll at WyoTech. On the way to Wyoming, the left front tire blew out and caught fire. The car was a total loss and the junkyard that towed it away gave me a whopping $25 for it.

Fast forward to September 4th, 2008

My wife and I are in the delivery room of a hospital in Cleburne, TX. No, the Torino wasn't born here, but my youngest daughter Andrea was. And about an hour before the doc came in for the final push, my wife had her laptop on her tray and was clicking the bid button for the following vehicle:



6A31H1661408
1976 Ford Gran Torino 4-door pillared hardtop, 9D Polar White on blue, built 7/76
351M engine, 2-barrel carb, FMX transmission, 2.75 open 9" rear
all bone stock, all neglected, sitting at a pawn shop in OKC with 87500 on the clock

$355.00 was the winning bid. It then cost me $320.00 to have it hauled from OKC to Malone, TX and it arrived in the first week of October. With no keys and unsigned titlework. Here's the pictures I have of it when it got here and was off the truck:










I wasn't able to do much with it sans keys and titlework. But about a month later I was able to get the ignition key only and the properly filled out titlework. Now I had to get it running. I pulled my 454-powered Suburban out to the curb where my car sat and went about adding in some gas and setting up jumper cables. The car ran but idled REALLY high. I mean like 2000-2500 or more. I found a TWIG wedged in the throttle linkage and once I removed that it died. Set it a bit higher and it stayed running. I had a running car for $675 plus a bit of gas and some overnight delivery postage so far!

I moved her up to the house, changed the battery cables, and tossed on the LTD II hubcaps my wife bought for me:




Between November 2008 and May 2009 I gathered bits and tried to fix some small issues. I bought nine high beam headlights for about $21 shipped off eBay, so I am covered for those probably for life. I bought a gas cap, lubed up the parking brake mechanism so it would ratchet down and hold, and cleaned cleaned cleaned! Then I got my inspection sticker and I was very excited. My parents were coming to visit me and my wife and all our kids and I was going to get to drive the Torino back and forth to Waco several times to meet with them and go do stuff. So I took an extreme angle picture to celebrate:



On the last day of my parent's visit, we filled up the gas tanks of the Torino and our Durango and headed back to the house so they could head to the airport. On the way home, *BANG*, a wheel cylinder blew out on the right rear. More to come in the next post...

Edited by occupant - 10-April-2011 at 6:27AM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-April-2011 at 6:42AM
June and July I moped around wanting to be able to fix my car, but I didn't have the tools or the money to work on the brakes. I also knew I needed drums and those would be expensive. On my birthday my parents sent me $200. I used the money to buy a parts wagon, and it had the same brakes out back. Now why did I need drums?



These were the parts that fell out when I took off the right rear drum. Springs, brackets, and all sorts of bits. The piece on the bottom is called an anchor plate and holds the shoes apart up top. They don't MAKE those repop. They don't exist aftermarket. I HAD to get another vehicle for drums (would have been about $90 each otherwise) and that anchor plate. This wagon took care of that:



Oh, hello there, you have a NICE grille. Still haven't put this on as of April 2011 but it's on my to-do list before it goes in for transmission work:



This wagon is gone now, but selling parts from it set me up to be able to buy the brake parts I needed (plus a cap, rotor, dome light lens, and a few other goodies from RockAuto, about $80 worth of stuff on the bed in this picture:



With all that and a little help bleeding the system and replacing the master cylinder, this brake job is DONE!:



By November 2009, I had a key made for the trunk and found all sorts of junk and some goodies. I drove the car mostly back and forth, 8 and 15 mile trips each way to Bynum, Hubbard, and Hillsboro. The car was consuming ungodly amounts of oil. I mean like 70 miles to a quart. Changing the oil, adding Lucas, adding MMO, trying heavier weights, nothing helped. I thought possibly there was something wrong in the valvetrain too, because there was a heavy clacking coming from the back of the drivers side valve cover. So in January 2010 I took the driver valve cover off to assess the damage while my 2-year old daughter Meghan helped...check out all that coked oil sitting everywhere:






I cleaned out all I could and put on new valve cover gasket. I never got around to doing the passenger side. That rearmost rocker was so loose. And it would turn out to be the pivot in the rocker that had crumbled to pieces keeping it from sitting tight. But no matter. I kept driving and it kept gulping oil. 14 mile per gallon of gas and 70 miles per quart of oil. At least I don't drive much, right?

Edited by occupant - 10-April-2011 at 6:43AM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-April-2011 at 6:54AM
Disaster occurred 2-27-10, my car was hit overnight by a drunk driver in a maroon 1997-2002 Mitsubishi Mirage. I was parked on the street and they moved my car about 6 feet they hit it so hard!



I had to replace the taillight to keep driving it. Found one on eBay described right but it turned out to be for a base 74-76 model:



Not quite right but it'll do for now. The only Mirage in town was not the culprit I later determined. I thought it was because it disappeared for a few weeks and came back with aftermarket headlights and a hood that didn't line up right. But that was from running under the back of a pickup and the damage didn't match up. I have nothing to go on with this. So I have moved on. I have a bumper to replace mine, I just have to swap it on, and much like with the grille I just haven't had time.

So for March I just spent time with the car and cleaned it up. Pulled out all the nasty carpet and put down some berber remnants for the time being. Detailed it inside and out and took a ton of pictures. Here's two:




I also found an AM-FM mono radio from a Granada on eBay and put that in along with a Griffin iTrip Universal transmitter. I can listen to anything I want now.




Took some videos of the car over summer 2010 as well and posted the ones from working on it in January:













By the end of the year, the engine was burning a quart of oil every 50 miles. I cleaned the car up, put on the CVPI center caps I liked at the time (I want to use the Explorer Sport Trac ones but need spacer for the front ones to clear the hubs), and dropped it off at the mechanic in town:




I also dropped off a D2AE-CA 351C block which should be a Cobra Jet but it has 2V heads. Still has 4-bolt mains and has the F351 Edelbrock intake and a junk carb. This engine cost me $400 and sounds awesome. But alas, my mechanic is an idiot. That's been covered well in my "No go" topic.

Edited by occupant - 10-April-2011 at 6:59AM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-April-2011 at 7:13AM
Here are the two videos I made of it not being able to start once I got it back on 1/23/11:




I was stupid and let him have it back. He didn't do a damn thing to it. So I took it back this past Friday and fiddled with it a bit. It runs better now, but I'm not done with it yet:



And I got Year-Of-Manufacture plates for it (well, I will have when I get a '76 sticker) and they have my wife's name on them. It's appropriate since she bought the car...on eBay....in a hospital bed...while delivering a baby...so hell yes her name's gonna be all over my car!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ilyes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-April-2011 at 7:47AM
really nice update, i love the story, hope i'll see you and your car at the show
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-April-2011 at 6:40AM
While I wait for my wife to give me the go-ahead to take my car in for transmission work, I have a few things to deal with.



3/4" Air Cleaner spacer for Edelbrock carbs. This should run about $9 shipped from Amazon. I have a 5/8" gap when my 2-barrel air cleaner sits level over my carb. The thing mostly in the way is the choke. I can't move that. The fuel inlet is also in the way. So this 3/4" spacer will take care of the gap and allow me to mount it with...



a Mr. Gasket air cleaner stud and wing nut. I'll use the stock wingnut if I can. The air cleaner will sit slightly higher than it did before, but with some measurements and some silly putty, I even have room to flip the lid upside down and it still clears by about 1/2". So I'm good. This is $3.49 shipped from Amazon.

Keep in mind we subscribe to Prime so the free shipping is 2-day service, too! And free on many items that it normally isn't!

So anyway, that takes care of my air cleaner. I'll get a proper factory 351C one later because as of now, the only ones on eBay are either incomplete, or painted other colors, or are $200+ and I'm not spending that kind of money. I'm also not willing to put a $25 chrome one in its place. Gotta be blue.

I am also planning to rehab but not restore my seats. I will pick up a chair cushion or two from a dollar store or Goodwill, and shove them into the driver's side of the seat. Then stitch a piece of denim or something over the hole. See the first post in this thread for how my seat looks now and deduct 2.5 years worth of wear and tear.

Regal Universal Bench Seat Covers, $24.99 each

The photo is a stock photo. Here is the Dark Blue Regal pattern on a bucket seat:



This oughta look pretty slick front and back. Then I'll drop $40 or so at a junkyard and pull some 80's-90's dark blue carpet from a Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car and hope it fits (or with luck, be too big so I can cut it down to tuck in nicely)



Same big transmission tunnel, cars are similar in width (79.3 for a '74-'76 Torino, 77.5 for an '89 Crown Vic) so I imagine the interiors are similarly sized. Seats in a Crown Vic are almost 57 inches wide and my seat as measured this morning is 53 inches wide. So it's close enough to try it and if it's not quite wide enough it'll tuck under the sill moldings less and I won't care. The dimension I'm most concerned about is tucking under the back seat bottom cushion. Looking at legroom in both cars, the Crown Vic has a bit more legroom so it should tuck under fine.

So that's my goal for the next month while money gets saved up for the transmission. Get the air cleaner mounted and rehab the interior for about $120. Rebuilding the FMX including R&R, rebuilt converter, and 36mo/36000mi warranty is $750-$800 total. I'll just keep it. If I need longer legs I'll take a 2.47 rear gear or maybe get lucky and find a '70-only 2.33 rear gear.

edit: and no sooner do I post this than an idea comes up on Craigslist:

http://waco.craigslist.org/cto/2320408869.html


$250 '89 Crown Vic (maroon interior though) 15 miles up the road in Hillsboro. Probable good 302/AOD in there. I could use that AOD. Wife said if I'm going to tackle the transmission she'll insist I get a proper transmission jack and additional jackstands (8 in all, 1 in front of and behind each wheel somehow and put it entirely in the air). The most annoying part will be hauling the driveshaft up to like Fort Worth to get the yoke swapped on and maybe shorten it an inch. Then I get to play with the Lokar cable, install a transmission cooler, and make sure the lines hook up for it. I'm seriously considering it. Then pick up a junkyard AOD and sell the Crown Vic complete. Or beat around in it if it runs ok. Would have to see. I offered them the full $250 if they bring it to me. I might just head up there and have AAA tow it to me if the tags aren't out. They'd have to pull it out of the weeds though.

Edited by occupant - 12-April-2011 at 6:53AM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ilyes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-April-2011 at 10:06AM
got to autozone, pepboys, they carry the air filter spacer for a little bit less
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-April-2011 at 11:11AM
But then I have to drive to AutoZone, 15 miles each way, so unless I'm already going to be on that end of Hillsboro for something else...by the time you figure in sales tax at 8% and the fuel, it's cheaper to order on Amazon.

Checking out my local AutoZone, they have the same 8092 spacer for almost twice the price. No savings there.

"Edelbrock 3/4 in. Pro-Flo air cleaner spacer 8092 Price: $15.99"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fordnmerc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-April-2011 at 1:00PM
Very cool story! Thumbs Up

Love that it's a 4 door and white over blue like my family's 74 base 2 door was.

I never realized that the tail light bezels on Gran Torinos were different....thought the trim pieces in the middle extended all the way over. Clears that up for me and proves one thing....the bezel I mentioned in the thread, that fell off the car on the junk truck, was a base just like we would have needed if ours hadn't been just fine.
David
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ramair351 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-April-2011 at 3:12PM
good writeup!   i must have missed the part about the tranny going out. whats the plan there?
-Pete
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-April-2011 at 2:29AM
Well, the transmission is now shot because of the bonehead mechanic. It was fine when I took it in. Now it acts like it's barely connected. Slips so badly you have to rev up to 3K or so to get it to move at a walking speed in reverse and drive is completely gone.

The plan was to swap in an AOD. I don't think I'm capable of that here. I have a gravel driveway and mostly grass and uneven ground to work with at the house. I wouldn't be able to lift both vehicles safely and get them high enough to clear a transmission removal.

So then the plan was to have the AOD swap done at a shop in Joshua, TX. I would get an AOD, fresh rebuild, fresh converter, installed for about $1300 or so, and that would net me a 3 year, 36K warranty. But now they guy says because it's going in a pre-81 car that never had an AOD factory, he won't warranty it, and doesn't really want to do it at all. He says "he's never built an AOD that shifted right". He's another goddamned GM guy. He offered to rebuild the FMX in there now with a new pump and whatever else it needs for $800 including taxes and parts and all. But if he can't build an AOD to shift right, he's not touching my car at all.

Now the plan is nothing. I have no plan. Broader Performance up in Weatherford is not interested in the swap either although they'll be happy to sell me a transmission and the throttle cable and all that, they don't want to install it in a Torino. So they're out. Redneck Transmissions in Waco will build the AOD but again, they don't do swap installs.

My wife won't allow anyone else to work on the car. She says we either do it here, which we can't do safely, or take it to a transmission shop that will issue a warranty. And I can't find anyone to swap in an AOD and I don't want to spend stupid money to rebuild an FMX that gives me no overdrive and no lockup. $700-$800 I could handle, but the other shops I've talked to are talking $1100+
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote unlovedford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-April-2011 at 2:37AM
Man, I wish I were closer to where you live. I am pulling the FMX out of my F100 this summer and would give it to you to get you going. Sorry to hear of all the issues. I had the C4 rebuilt in my '76 back when I was driving it in '82 by a guy here in Chattanooga called All Transmissions. It took him 9 (NINE) tries to get it right. Still started in gear after that and started leaking 2 years later, but it shifted well and I gave up. I feel your pain.
Joe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fordnmerc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-April-2011 at 9:44AM
I just saw this ad....it's a month old ad, but still up, so maybe still available:


Don't know if it will help or not, but thought it might be worth a shot.

Edit: here's another one:


And:




Edited by fordnmerc - 14-April-2011 at 9:54AM
David
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blueoval76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-April-2011 at 2:56PM
If I was you I would be watching Craigslist for a trans and just swap it out. You can still call my bro to see if he can do the swap. He helped me build every car I had except the Torino and I have never had any issue with his work.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-April-2011 at 3:59PM
Originally posted by fordnmerc fordnmerc wrote:



I just saw this ad...



No. This is my car. I am not replacing it. This one is just right it just needs the transmission to drive again. As it stands now, my best option is to find a place where I can borrow a lift and a transmission jack and do the swap myself. I wish I had a concrete pad for a driveway instead of this uneven gravel and dirt.

Blueoval76, I want to let your brother work on the car but I'm not sure my wife is going to go for me having it towed out there. I'm still trying.

As of now, CL is useless for an FMX except for my own broken one listed. But car-part.com shows me a couple of 351M FMX's I'd have to swap bellhousings on (no problem), $150 each, both from '75 Cougars, one in San Antonio, the other in Quinlan (even farther north and east from Dallas than gpd294!).

Edited by occupant - 14-April-2011 at 4:01PM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blueoval76 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-April-2011 at 4:36PM
I can almost guarantee you that if you offer him enough cash and get a good way to get the car off the ground he will do it there. He lost his job, house and ect.. so I would think he would welcome the call. Dont tell him I mentioned the losses though. He may even be able to get you the trans too. Just gotta call him. Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fordnmerc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-April-2011 at 3:39AM
What I meant was that those might be sources of good transmission plus a lot of other good parts you could use....like you did with that wagon.

Let me just say a few words about AOD....I have driven Fords with AOD for years. The 91 Grand Marquis we have now has one. If you are consistently on flat lands, they are fine and get a bit more gas mileage. But, if you drive where there are even gentle rises, that AOD is constantly shifting back and forth because it simply doesn't know what to do with even a slight hill. That is particularly annoying on the interstates, where you want the extra gas mileage, but the terrain is all different. When I am on uneven terrain, I just keep it in regular drive.

Over the years I have had Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis side by side in garage with Torino/Ranchero and have always preferred the non-AOD transmission.

If you need any measurements of the carpet in Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis let me know. I do know off the top of my head that the foot wells are different. I have a set of vinyl floor mats that we bought in 1975 for the 74 Torino and they don't fit nearly as well in the Grand Marquis.
David
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote occupant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-April-2011 at 8:40AM
Someday I'll get out and about to a junkyard with no kids or wife tagging along and I'll have to measure all sorts of stuff. I may actually end up using CV/GM seats as well if I find nice ones. Just have to swap the springs/tracks over as has been mentioned in some threads on here.

Another item I'm thinking long and hard about is a tachometer. I'll run a vacuum gauge somewhere, but I want to use that clock delete hole for a tach. Like ilyes' Sun Super Tach II but looking more factory. Bob up at Rocketman's Classic Cougar Innovations makes one for 69-70 Cougars I think with a different needle and all black face would look PERFECT in those cars of ours without full gauge clusters. I photoshopped one into my dash to see how it'd look.



I like it. Should run about $235.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mcford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-April-2011 at 2:59AM
Originally posted by fordnmerc fordnmerc wrote:

What I meant was that those might be sources of good transmission plus a lot of other good parts you could use....like you did with that wagon.

Let me just say a few words about AOD....I have driven Fords with AOD for years. The 91 Grand Marquis we have now has one. If you are consistently on flat lands, they are fine and get a bit more gas mileage. But, if you drive where there are even gentle rises, that AOD is constantly shifting back and forth because it simply doesn't know what to do with even a slight hill. That is particularly annoying on the interstates, where you want the extra gas mileage, but the terrain is all different. When I am on uneven terrain, I just keep it in regular drive.

Over the years I have had Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis side by side in garage with Torino/Ranchero and have always preferred the non-AOD transmission.

If you need any measurements of the carpet in Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis let me know. I do know off the top of my head that the foot wells are different. I have a set of vinyl floor mats that we bought in 1975 for the 74 Torino and they don't fit nearly as well in the Grand Marquis.
 
i have NEVER had this issue with an AOD thru (2)( 86 t-birds, 85 t-bird, 87 LSC, (3) 1990 LSC's, 86 Crown Vic, 91 Crown Vic, 89 Grand Marquis, 86 Crown Vic wagon, 89 Crown Vic P72 w/ 351W and AOD.  The only issue i have had is sometimes they cant decide on d or OD when at the 35-40moph range which is the d to od shift point.  not all of them did it, just a couple.
Mike
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fordnmerc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-April-2011 at 3:34AM
Well, let's see....we have had 82 LTD bought new, 89 Crown Vic bought new, 90 Grand Marquis bought with about 25k on it, 91 Crown Vic bought with about 89k on it, and 91 Grand Marquis bought with 85k on it. 

In every case, out on the interstates, you can be in OD and cruising at 55 or 65 or so on the flatland and the moment you get on even a gentle upward grade, your speed starts dropping down even though you have not decreased any pressure on the accelerator pedal. To compensate, you have to increase pressure on the pedal and there is a significant gap where you are increasing pressure and increasing pressure and nothing is happening until it reaches a certain point and then it will finally react and shift.

Also, we have very frequently noticed especially coming down from 40 speed limit to 30 limit while in OD there will be a slight vibration and a very noticeable clattering sound as the transmission shifts down. 

When driving in regular drive none of these effects are seen at all.

??? Confused
David
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