- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2000

It was a year ago Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz., that Stephen Cohen purchased his "Grabber Blue" 1970 Ford Torino GT convertible.
He had come to Arizona to sell a car but once he saw the Torino he knew he had to have it.
Some of the better memories Mr. Cohen carries from his days at Montgomery [Md.] Blair High School include the time spent driving a nearly new 1974 Ford Gran Torino Sport. Since then, a lot of cars have crossed his path. A few he has held onto, such as a 1956 Thunderbird.
It was the Thunderbird he had trucked to Scottsdale for the Barrett-Jackson auction. He believed he had owned the T-bird long enough and, after having had his fun with the car, decided the time had come to sell.
The local sheriff and his deputies are in attendance at that famous auction to ensure no stolen cars are auctioned, as well as to detect cars illegally altered to place them into higher price categories.
As Mr. Cohen was unloading his Thunderbird from the truck the sheriff, after looking under the hood, instructed him to drive the car around behind the building. There he took all of the paperwork on the car and left, instructing Mr. Cohen to stay put.
With his papers confiscated Mr. Cohen had no choice. Eventually, the sheriff returned. Whatever question he had about the car had been resolved.
In the meantime, while waiting, Mr. Cohen had spotted the 1970 Torino GT convertible with the distinctive laser stripe being prepared for auction.
He looked over the pristine car, admiring the manual Hurst T-bar four-speed shifter and the three-spoke Deluxe rim-blow steering wheel. "I wasn't going to leave Arizona without that car," a determined Mr. Cohen said.
The car from his high school days had that same kind of steering wheel, which, by merely touching the inside diameter of the wheel, the horn would sound. "You can't palm the wheel when turning," he said, "without honking the horn."
When the Torino with the signature laser stripe on each flank crossed the block, Mr. Cohen was the high bidder. "I was so impressed with this car," Mr. Cohen said.
As it turned out, his T-bird didn't sell so he had both cars trucked home to Virginia.
Mr. Cohen, an officer of Jerry's Automotive Group, discovered his remarkable Torino was one of only 3,939 manufactured, by far the rarest of the 11 Torino models offered in 1970.
The 3,490-pound convertible rides on a 117-inch wheelbase supported by F70x14-inch Goodyear Polyglas tires with raised white letters.
An engine hood with a hole in it covers the 351-cubic-inch Cleveland V-8 that cranks out 300 horsepower. The hole is to provide a place for the shaker air scoop to protrude.
Mr. Cohen thinks the original owner may have been a car dealer since the Torino is very well "optioned." Included in the list of accessories are:
* Magnum 500 chrome wheels.
* Factory air conditioning.
* Hood-mounted tachometer.
* AM/FM stereo radio.
* High-back seats.
* Power steering.
* Power windows
* Power brakes.
* Console.
The Torino was in great condition except for the instruments they didn't work.
A visit to the exhibition in Carlisle, Pa., during the week that Fords were featured solved the problem. Mr. Cohen purchased three 1970 Torino dashboards with the instruments attached as well as an original Fairlane radio still in the original box. The radio that was in the car was from a Mercury.
"I couldn't believe it," Mr. Cohen said upon plugging in the new 30-year-old radio and hearing it work.
"The car is a beauty and it performs beautifully," Mr. Cohen remarks.
Using parts and pieces from the original dashboard along with the other three gave Mr. Cohen a dashboard where all the gauges work even the clock.
The egg-crate grille is composed of 150 little rectangles. The vacuum-operated outboard quarters hide the four headlights.
Mr. Cohen located a new four-barrel Holley carburetor that feeds fuel to the thirsty V-8 at an alarming rate. Just listening to the gurgling sound of the engine through the dual exhausts gives a sense of the power at the driver's command.
The tachometer red lines at 5,000 rpm. However, long before it nears that mark, Mr. Cohen said, "I love to hear that whine."
Thirty years ago Ford advertising boasted that the Torino was "shaped by the wind." It sold for a base price of $3,212.
The Torino still looks like it was shaped by the wind, but the $3,212 price is just a fond memory.

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