Ford Super Torino Funny Car
The year 1968 found Ford Motor Company introducing a redesigned Torino fastback model to take part in the muscle car wars then raging across Detroit. For noted Memphis-based drag car owner Larry Coleman, the new Torino’s debut was an opportunity to put his racing program into the latest body style. Driven by AHRA event winner Sidney Foster, the unique “Super Torino” used the Stage I style tubular Logghe Stamping Company chassis and debuted in late 1968. This was actually a large racing vehicle by many contemporary standards; only a handful of Torino replicas were built since most FoMoCo racers selected the Mustang body design (the only other 1968 Torino of note was publicized briefly by well-known Georgia-based driver Phil Bonner and never campaigned). It is worth noting that 1968-69 were the years that the sleek Torino body design and David Pearson won the NASCAR Grand National title as well, adding additional racing heritage to this vehicle’s design.
This 118-inch wheelbase Super Torino, backed by Coleman-Taylor Enterprises, garnered notoriety by becoming the first-ever Ford-bodied funny car to top 200 mph; it reportedly clocked a 7.02 at 202 mph after first using a Ford SOHC engine/automatic transmission on nitromethane fuel for power when it hit the strip. Painted in an attractive red and black scheme, this car actually used a real 1968 factory grille installed into the fiberglass body, a very unique feature when most grilles were being painted on. It was featured in Petersen’s first Funny Car Pictorial in 1969, its Drag Racing Pictorial from the same year, the January 1969 issue of Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, and event coverage in the racing newspapers and magazines of the day. It toured nationwide; pictures exist of it running at Orange County in Southern California during the infamous Manufacturer’s Meet.
The car was eventually turned over to journeyman driver Larry Arnold (also of Tennessee) and was converted to 426 Hemi Chrysler power by Coleman during the 1969 season; the parts availability on the SOHC engines mandated this swap for many Ford racers. Larry Reyes also drove this car. In the 1990s, the car was found and restored partially back to its 1969 configuration by race car locator Mike Guffey of Indiana. This historic vehicle is now offered complete with a display-only Keith Black Hemi block (with blower and aluminum heads), for sale as a prime example of the dynamic evolution of late 1960s drag racing.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in September 2009 at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California.
426 cu. in. V8 engine with aluminum heads and blower. Stage I tubular Logghe Stamping Company chassis. Wheelbase: 118"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel