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1970 Ford Torino GT

1970 Ford Torino GT
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Owned by Joey Dubé

A stimulus induces a slight irrepressible expansion of the pupils in the eyes. When I was a passenger in Joey Dubé’s 1970 Ford Torino, my pupils must have been the size of saucepans. My first impression of the Torino was that it was about as streamline of a failed weightwatchers contestant: yellow, bulbous, heavy and about as sexy as a milk float. However, all that changed when Joey steered the car onto an abandoned country road. “Buckle up.”

“What?” Before I could utter another word, the throttle was stabbed and for a split second all I saw was sky. The front of the car popped up so violently, my feet were on the dashboard and my cranium was laughing in the back seat. Or was it screaming?

“I rarely do that,” confessed Joey. “The neighbours don’t appreciate it, the police don’t tolerate it, and it gives a bad impression to the kids. This is not a car for the faint-of-heart. In fact, I love the attention it generates.”

When you talk about muscle cars from the 1970s, most people will immediately recall GTOs, Roadrunners, Chargers, Coronets, and Novas, but don’t dismiss the Torino. A big car can handle a big engine and Joey used the best 429-block he could find for a 532 ci Super Cobra Jet.

The car’s menu comes with a rolodex of racing supplements: a Scat Rotating assembly, Canton main girdle, ARP main studs and head studs, custom Bullit Racing Roller Cam Shaft and Lifters, Ford racing timing chain set and their aluminum Super Cobra Jet heads fitted with Ferrea valves. The diet is topped off with ultra pro magnum roller rockers, modified Offenhauser single intake manifold, a 1000 cfm Holley HP carburetor, and Hooker super comp heaters. With the help of friends Serge Viau and Marc Forget and his wife, Carole, they completely restored the drive-train, added bigger axles, included a stronger racing transmission, and refurbished the interior.

Joey was always into cars, but my biggest influence was watching Paul Le Mat’s character, John Milner and his ’32 yellow Ford Coupe in the movie, American Graffiti. “He epitomized what was cool. I knew from that moment on that when I would build my own car, it would be yellow like Milner’s Coupe and fast. In fact, I call the paint job, John Milner Yellow.” As a child, Joey was under the tutelage of his father who owned a ’56 Ford, a ’66 Buick Wildcat, and a ’70 Maverick Grabber. This simply paved the way to become immersed in automotive heaven: apprenticing and working as an automotive technician, finding his desire as a street racer, and accomplishing his dream as a restorer and collector. The passion that was fostered as a child grew into a way of life as an adult. “It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle for me.”

If it weren’t for the financial reimbursement from his insurance company for a car accident that totaled his ’78 Ford V8 Mustang II, Joey might never have found the Torino GT in 1987 from an impound yard in North Carolina. “When I first saw it in chest-high grass, I thought it was a Dodge. I wasn’t too familiar with the ’70-’71 Torino GT even though I’m a Ford guy. I did; however, fall head-over-heels for it.”

The original owner primarily drag raced it until it was repossessed in 1974 and hadn’t been touched. “The paint was baked by the Carolina sun right through to the primer and was covered in surface rust. As for the interior, it was burnt to a crisp.” Otherwise, the car was in operative shape with only 9,208 miles on it. In 2010, one of Joey’s friends discovered through an online Torino Forum, the mechanic who worked on his car at a racetrack in the early ‘70s. “A cool fact about my car is that when I disassembled it, I found one speeding ticket and two parking tickets from 1973. I was also lucky in finding, not one, but two original build sheets; one under the back seat and the other jammed up under the dash.”

“The car is like some umbilical cord to my childhood of Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels. After playing with them, I would clean and wrap each one up in tissue paper. I also hung around with older kids who allowed me to watch them street race.” Joey has since built his own toys including a 1978 Ford Mustang II V8, a 1977 Ford F-350 4X4 that he built from a 2-wheel drive truck and a 1-ton 4X4 frame. A V8 big block 1979 Ford Pinto and a 1985 Ford Mustang GT with a 351 Cleveland motor.

“But nothing compares to the Torino. Every time I sit in it and start it up, I’m excited and it feels like the first time.” Ironically, for all the speed Joey enjoys, it’s a 1955 Ford Fairlane that he would most cherish since it would be a link to his father. “My father had one before I was born and I’ve always been attracted to this body style although it would be a John Milner yellow.”