The Reverse Mullet – 1971 Ford Torino Squire

Let’s face it: Station wagons historically lined the bottom of the cool bucket.

As a kid, you hated to be seen in one, just as today’s kids hate to be seen in a minivan. (Though as a teenager, you probably quickly realized the benefit of taking the family station wagon to the drive-in.) There were only a few times when your dad would drive one–usually only when his daily driver was in the shop, or when it came time to haul the family halfway across the country to see.


Aunt Gertel or Mount Rushmore or something else that the family didn’t actually want to see.Not Dio ”Bud” Rader. When the Army veteran, mechanic and father of three bought a boat to take his family water-skiing, his 1956 Thunderbird wouldn’t cut it as a tow vehicle. ”It was a job to tow that boat,” said Lois Rader, Bud’s wife of 60 years. ”We needed a big car for that.

”So Bud ordered a big car. To haul around the family and all their stuff, he’d need a station wagon. To tow the boat, he’d need the power of a big-block V-8. To hold his head up high as he drove it around every day, he’d need to make it sporty.

Full-size wagons, however, were out. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance of making one of them sporty, and Bud still had to afford the car on his mechanic’s pay. Of the intermediate station wagons available in 1971, just two had big-blocks that made more than 300hp: Oldsmobile, with the 320hp 455 in its Vista Cruiser, and Ford, with the 370hp Cobra Jet 429 in its Torino Squire.

Bud chose the Ford.

”He liked to go fast,” Lois said. ”He loved the power.”

How Bud knew he could get the 429 Cobra Jet in the Torino Squire remains a bit of a mystery. For the 1970 model year, Ford literature explicitly stipulated that the Cobra Jet 429, with or without Ram Air, could not be ordered in any Torino station wagon or Torino four-door.

We haven’t yet found any similar literature for the 1971 model year, but even if Ford officially reversed itself on allowing the combination, its salesmen did”t get the message: Just six 1971 Torino Squires were ordered with Cobra Jet 429s. Bud’s was one of those six.

(Ford appeared to have no qualms over selling the Ranchero outfitted with the Cobra Jet 429, as we saw in HMM #50, November 2007. But again, with severely low production numbers of that combination, it seems somebody didn’t inform the salesmen.)

On November 3, 1970, Bud placed the order for the wagon with Gibson Motor Co. in Junction City, Oregon, just north of where he lived in Eugene, ticking off several unique options on the order sheet. First off, he ordered the J-code Ram Air version of the Cobra Jet engine; the Ram Air option didn’t affect the horsepower rating of the engine, but did add that extra-cool shaker hood. Next, to add to the sportiness, he ordered hideaway headlamps, the visibility group with the dual racing mirrors, and the 8,000-RPM horizontal tachometer, which slotted into the dashboard just to the left of the steering column.

For utility’s sake, Bud added the roof-mounted luggage rack and the power tailgate window in the two-way tailgate. To tow the boat, he ordered up not only the Select-Shift Cruise-O-Matic C6 automatic transmission, but also the Traction-Lok differential in the 9-inch rear axle, as well as the trailer towing package. The latter included power brakes, power steering and a heavy-duty battery and alternator. It also required Bud to order either the 351 or 429 (check), an automatic transmission (check), F78-14 or larger tires (he went one size up to G78-14s), and a 3.25 or higher rear axle ratio (3.25 was just fine for him–he planned on putting some highway miles under those G78-14s).

Bud special-ordered the brown paint to match the hue of his boat. The total price for the Torino Squire, with delivery fees and such added in, came to $5,295.60, but Bud paid just $4,363.98, presumably by trading in his Thunderbird.

Lois recalls that Bud didn’t have any problem ordering the car, which tells us the salesmen at Gibson knew it was entirely possible to get a 429 Cobra Jet in a Torino Squire. ”It was hard on him to have to wait for it,” she said. ”He was rather impatient.”

Fortunately, Ford’s Lorain, Ohio, assembly plant built the Torino as Bud ordered it on December 1, and Bud picked it up 15 days later. Lois doesn’t recall exactly how long Bud owned the Torino, but she does recall the water-skiing trips, mostly to lakes around Eugene–Fern Ridge and Lookout Point–and in the vast high desert of eastern Oregon–likely Malheur Lake. She also remembers that Bud took excellent care of the Torino.

”He never raced any of his cars–I don’t think he could have stood it if he wrecked one,” she said. ”His cars were his babies, really.”

Sometime after the Raders had their fill of water-skiing, Bud traded the Squire in for a new car at Mock’s Ford in Springfield, Oregon, where Leslie Stenersen bought it. In 1987, Leslie in turn sold it to a family member, Philip, who owned an excavating company in New Hampshire, and brought it back East with him. Another owner and five years later, Rich LeVangie found it and brought it home to Norton, Massachusetts.

”I worked at Jack Madden Ford in Norwood for five years in the late Sixties and early Seventies and never saw a wagon with a shaker,” Rich said. ”Even with Tasca Ford nearby, I never saw anything like it.

”As it came to him, the Torino remained in decent shape. The advertisement that led him to the car described it as rust-free, which it was, though the dash showed a couple cracks, the exterior trim had faded and the entire car showed the bruises of a couple decades’ worth of use.

Oh, and it had a Holley carburetor sitting straight on a Ford intake manifold, sans adapter.

Rich had a few other things on his plate at the time, however, so he stuck the Torino in storage for the next seven years. Not until 1999 did Rich pull it out again and decide that the engine needed to be rebuilt. Intrigued by the nature of the wagon, Rich began documenting everything as he went through the engine.

That Holley caused the most confusion. In 1970 and 1971, Ford offered the Cobra Jet in a few different configurations. The difference between the Ram Air and non-Ram Air versions is evident in the engine code in the VIN: C for non-Ram Air and J for Ram Air. But the difference between Cobra Jet and what has since become known as the Super Cobra Jet is more subtle.

First off, Ford doesn’t appear to have ever called the latter option ”Super Cobra Jet” in any of its literature. Instead, it referred to the Drag Pack, which was available on either C-code or J-code engines, with either the Toploader four-speed or C6 automatic transmissions. The Drag Pack wasn’t well advertised, either; it required optioning up either 3.91 or 4.30 gears in the rear axle, which was then beefed up with a nodular case, 31-spline axle shafts and Traction-Lok (with the 3.91 gears) or a Detroit Locker (with the 4.30 gears).

The Drag Pack also automatically triggered several upgrades for the engine. The Rochester Quadrajet, used on all Cobra Jet 429s in 1970-’71 for emissions compliance, was replaced with a Holley 780-CFM four-barrel, while the hydraulic-lifter camshaft of the Cobra Jet 429 was swapped out for a solid-lifter camshaft. All Super Cobra Jet blocks received four-bolt main caps (in 1970, but not in 1971, the regular Cobra Jet 429 used two-bolt main blocks), and all Super Cobra Jet engines received cap-screw connecting rods, forged pistons and an external oil cooler.

Rich looked up the numbers on the Holley that came with the wagon, D1ZF-9510-XA, to find out that this carburetor was indeed meant to top a ’71 Super Cobra Jet 429 with a C6 automatic. The camshaft was solid, too, he said. This certainly looked to be a Super Cobra Jet station wagon at first.

However, other details tell a different story. First, the 3.25 axle ratio, as documented by both the door tag and by the tag attached to the 9-inch rear. No documented Super Cobra Jet car has ever come with any axle ratio lower than 3.91. Second clue: the 824 engine code, as documented on the wagon’s weathered build sheet and on the block of the car itself. According to the 1965-1972 Ford Car Master Parts Catalog, 824 corresponds to a Cobra Jet 429 rather than a Super Cobra Jet 429.

Everything else–the R-servo in the transmission, the wagon’s VIN code stamped on the engine, the Marti report documenting the car–identifies the wagon as a regular Cobra Jet 429 with Ram Air. The most plausible explanation, then, is that some previous owner–whether Bud Rader or one of the few since–swapped out that original Quadrajet, intake manifold and hydraulic camshaft for the promise of more power. Bud died in 2007, and we were unable to reach any other previous owners of the Torino for this story to find out who may have made the swap.

Rich went ahead with the engine rebuild, trusting the heads and block to the machine shop at Tasca, though they worked more to preserve the engine than to tear it apart. Rich said the bore is still the stock 4.36 inches.

The rest of the car, however, remains just as Rich bought it. ”I’ve had plenty of guys tell me to keep it just the way it is, warts and all,” he said. And he has, though he has also given it the workout that Bud never did: Rich’s best time with the Torino on the quarter-mile is a 13.99 at 99 MPH–not bad for something that weighs almost 3,600 pounds, or about 500 pounds more than a regular two-door Torino from that year.

How’s that for uncool?

Owner’s View
When I first looked at the car, I told the guy selling it that it was too bad someone ruined the hood by putting a shaker on it, but then he showed me a dealer copy of the invoice with the option CJ-R, which meant Cobra Jet-Ram Air. I couldn’t believe what he was telling me!The seller gave me Bud Rader’s phone number, so I called him, and he told me that he had a wooden boat, and he loved power, especially the big-blocks, so he thought that a big-block Torino wagon, brown with all the performance options, would be appropriate for towing the matching-color boat.To be honest, it’s not really my favorite of all the cars I own. The others are all race cars, and this one’s probably a good car for a collector of rare cars. I really only take it out of the garage a couple times a year now.
–Rich LeVangie

CLUB SCENEAmerican Station Wagon Owners Assn.
P.O. Box 914
Matthews, North Carolina 28106
Dues: $30/year • Membership: 640Fairlane Club of America
340 Clicktown Road
Church Hill, Tennessee 37642-6622
Dues: $35/year • Membership: 3,300


+ It’s a station wagon
+ Biggest possible engine
+ Largely originalCONS
– It’s a station wagon
– This close to a Super Cobra Jet
– A veritable rainbow of browns

Base price — $3,533
Price as profiled — $5,093.60
Options on car profiled — Cobra Jet V-8 with Ram Air, $436; Select-Shift Cruise-O-Matic, $238; Traction-Lok differential, $45; 3.25-ratio axle, $13; hideaway headlamps, $53; G78-14 tires, $30; power steering, $110; deluxe luggage rack, $79; bumper guards, $16; visibility group, $38; AM/FM stereo, $214; deluxe belts with warning light, $17; tinted glass, $43; power tailgate window, $35; trailer towing package, $50; 8,000-RPM tachometer, $49; special paint, $94.60ENGINE
Type — Ford 385-series OHV V-8, cast-iron block and cylinder heads
Displacement — 429 cubic inches
Bore x Stroke — 4.36 x 3.59 inches
Compression ratio — 11.3:1
Horsepower @ RPM — 370 @ 5,400
Torque @ RPM — 450-lbs.ft. @ 3,400
Valvetrain — Hydraulic valve lifters
Main bearings — 5
Fuel system — Rochester 715-CFM Quadrajet, mechanical pump (Currently running a 780-CFM Holley vacuum-secondary four-barrel)
Lubrication system — Pressure, gear-type pump
Electrical system — 12-volt
Exhaust system — Dual exhaustTRANSMISSION
Type — Ford C6 Cruise-O-Matic three-speed automatic
1st — 2.46:1
2nd — 1.46:1
3rd — 1.00:1
Reverse — 2.18:1DIFFERENTIAL
Type — Ford 9-inch housing with Traction-Lok limited-slip differential
Ratio — 3.25:1STEERING
Type — Recirculating ball, power assist
Ratio — 20.64:1
Turns, lock-to-lock — 3.75
Turning circle — 42.3 feetBRAKES
Type — Hydraulic, with power assist
Front — 11.3-inch disc
Rear — 10-inch drumCHASSIS & BODY
Construction — Unit-body with subframes
Body style — Four-door station wagon
Layout — Front engine, rear-wheel driveSUSPENSION
Front — Independent, unequal-length control arms; coil springs; telescoping shock absorbers; anti-roll bar
Rear — Leaf springs; staggered telescoping shock absorbersWHEELS & TIRES
Wheels — Stock stamped steel
Front — 14 x 7 inches
Rear — 14 x 7 inches
Tires — Goodyear Polyglas (Currently Goodyear Eagle ST radials)
Front — G78-14 (Currently 225/70R14)
Rear — G78-14 (Currently 225/70R14)WEIGHTS & MEASURES
Wheelbase — 114 inches
Overall length — 209 inches
Overall width — 75.4 inches
Front track — 60.5 inches
Rear track — 60 inches
Shipping weight — 3,583 poundsCAPACITIES
Crankcase — 6 quarts
Cooling system — 18.6 quarts
Fuel tank — 20 gallons
Transmission — 4 pints
Rear axle — 3.75 pintsCALCULATED DATA
BHP per — 0.862
Weight per BHP — 9.68 pounds
Weight per — 8.35 poundsPRODUCTION
Of the 15,805 1971 Ford Torino Squire station wagons, just six came with the 429 Cobra Jet Ram Air engine. All six had automatic transmissions.PERFORMANCE
1/4 mile ET — 13.99 seconds @ 99 MPH*
*Owner recorded

Original article here


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