Ford Torino GT
In 1968 Ford Motor Company introduced its intermediate line with a new body and new styling. Along with the new body and styling came the new upscale series Torino. The Fairlane name continued to be used for lower level models, and the Torino was considered a sub-series to the Fairlane during this time. The 1968 Fairlane and Torino used the same wheelbases as its 1967 predecessor: 116 in (2,946 mm) on 2- and 4-door models, and 113 in (2,870 mm) for station wagon models.
Styling was all new for the 1968 Fairlane/Torino, and it was drastically changed from the 1967 models. The new intermediate had grown in size and weight, and a new fastback model was added. The front fascia featured a full width recessed grille, with horizontal quad headlights placed at the outer edges. Horizontal dividing bars were featured in the grille depending on the model. Parking lights were placed at the outer edge of the front fenders and wrapped around the corner to also act as side marker lights (a new requirement in 1968). The body sides were smooth with one horizontal body crease running just below the beltline from front to back. The taillights were rectangular in shape and vertically situated in the rear panel above the rear bumper. Reverse lights were located in the middle of the taillights, and small side marker lights were located on the rear edge of the quarter panel. Fastback models, which Ford called "SportsRoof," featured a slightly concaved rear taillight panel unique to that body style. The new SportsRoof body style featured a gently sloped long roof line that extended to the edge of the trunk lid. This new fastback body style gave the Fairlane and the Torino excellent aerodynamics that would later prove to be advantageous on the race track.
Ford had 14 different models for its intermediate line for 1968. The base model was the "Fairlane", which was available in a 2-door hardtop, a 4-door sedan, and a 4-door station wagon. Next was the mid level "Fairlane 500", which was available as a 2-door hardtop, 2-door fastback called SportsRoof, convertible, and a 4-door sedan and station wagon. This was followed by the top level "Torino" series, which consisted of a 2-door hardtop, a 4-door sedan, and the Squire station wagon that featured wood grained applique. Finally, the "Torino GT", the sporty version of the Fairlane 500 series, included a 2-door hardtop, SportsRoof, and a convertible.
The Fairlane/Torino continued to be constructed with unit-construction like the 1967 models. The new car continued to use the same suspension as 1967 models, which was coil springs pivot mounted on an upper control arm and a strut stabilized lower control arms in front, with long semi-elliptical leaf springs on a solid axle in rear. A heavy-duty suspension option was available for V8 powered cars, and included extra-heavy-duty springs and shocks. Steering was recirculating ball system, with power steering optional. All cars came standard with four-wheel drum brakes, although front disc brakes and power assist were options.
The interior on the Fairlane/Torino was all new for 1968. A new dashboard featured four equally sized round pods centred around the steering wheel. However, the pods did not contain a full set of gauges; rather an assortment of warning lights along with the speedometer and fuel gauge. The fuel gauge and temperature warning lights were in the first pod, a 120 mph (190 km/h) speedometer was located in the second pod from the left, alternator and oil pressure warning lights were in the third pod from the left and the fourth pod was blank. An optional tachometer was available, which would be located in the third pod, and an optional clock occupied the fourth pod. Ford offered many upholstery options, including a knitted vinyl option, called "comfortweave." This unique option allowed the vinyl to "breathe" unlike conventional vinyl, offering more comfort in hot weather. Conforming to U.S. safety standards, there was much padding inside the Torino's interior, which also featured shoulder belts for front outboard passengers on all cars built after December 31, 1967.
Ford had quite a variety of engine options for its intermediate line. All models came standard with a 200 cu in (3.3 L) six-cylinder engine, except for the Torino GT models, which came standard with a 302 cu in (4.9 L)-2V small block V8. Available engines included a 289 cu in (4.7 L)-2V small block V8, a 302 cu in (4.9 L)-2V (for all models other than the GT), a 390 cu in (6.4 L)-2V FE engine, and a 390 cu in (6.4 L)-4V FE engine. A 427 cu in (7.0 L)-4V FE engine was initially listed as an engine option for 1968, but was later removed and no Fairlanes or Torinos were actually produced with this engine during 1968. Introduced on April 1, 1968, the 428 cu in (7.0 L)-4V CJ (Cobra-Jet) FE engine became available as an engine option, but due to its mid-year introduction these engines are very rare. The 428-4V Cobra-Jet was by far the most potent engine available, but was said to be under-rated at 335 horsepower (250 kW). The cars equipped with the 428 Cobra Jets had emblems borrowed from the full-sized Fords (a red-and-chrome badge reading "428") mounted on the fenders behind the parking lamps. All models came standard with a three-speed manual transmission, while the Cruise-O-Matic automatic and four-speed manual transmissions were options.
The Torino model featured full colour-keyed carpeting, additional exterior and interior trim, and Torino crests on the 'C' pillar. The Torino GT's standard features included bucket seats and a console, special name plaques and exterior trim, GT markings on wheel covers, and courtesy lights on the inside door panels. The Torino GT was also available with a GT handling suspension package, which included extra-heavy-duty springs and shocks, and a heavy-duty front anti-sway bar. Four-speed equipped cars had staggered rear shocks which help resist axle hop. GTs were available with a stripe option, which started as a 'C' shape at the edge of the front fender, and two body stripes extended the length of the car.
Although there were faster cars for 1968, the Torino GT when equipped properly offered an excellent combination of power and handling. In Car Life magazine's test of a 1968 Torino GT SportsRoof equipped with a 390-4V, C-6, and 3.25:1 axle, they recorded a 0 - 60 mph (97 km/h) time of 7.7 seconds, and the quarter-mile (402 m) dragstrip time of 15.8 seconds at 90 mph (140 km/h). Motor Trend magazine wrote "Putting the car through quick and/or tight corners isn't a matter of practiced art - it's more like second nature for the GT" in their test of a 1968 Torino GT. Car and Driver magazine tested a 1968 Ford Torino GT equipped with the 428 CJ with Ram Air induction, C-6 Cruise-O-Matic, and 3.91:1 gears and recorded a quarter mile time of 14.2 seconds at 98.9 mph (159.2 km/h). Car and Driver wrote the Torino had "a 1-2 shift that broke the Wide-Ovals loose for at least a length. With a price tag of $306 for the Cobra-Jet option, Ford lovers have a reason to rejoice."
As previously mentioned, station wagons came in three different models: "Fairlane", "Fairlane 500", and "Torino Squire." All wagons came equipped with Ford's "Magic Doorgate" three-way tailgate, and were available with an optional rear-facing third seat which increased the car's carrying capacity from 6 to 8 people. Torino Squire models came standard with simulated woodgrain side panels, and had the more refined trim and upholstery of the Torino sedans. Unique station wagon options included a chrome roof rack and a power rear window.
1968 was a successful year for Torino with 172,083 units produced. Including Fairlane production, 371,787 cars were produced. The Torino was well received by the automotive press and a 1968 Torino GT convertible was selected as the 1968 Indianapolis 500 pace car.