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Dave W.'s 1976 Ford Torino®
"Starsky & Hutch"®Replica


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Dave bought this Torino, which is equipped with a 351W engine, at a used car dealership in New Hampshire. It has just over 100,000 miles on it and the body is rust-free. Dave is the second owner of the car. It has some Gran Torino trim on it, but if you look closely at all the pictures, you'll spot one outstanding feature that makes a Torino different from a Gran Torino. First person to spot it and tell me what it is gets a cookie. Great-looking S&H Torino isn't it? You're probably figuring Dave paid some car restoration guys $25,000 to make it for him, right? Keep reading, my friends.


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In July, 2007, Dave and his family were driving through New Hampshire on vacation. As he was driving, Dave was looking at everyone's back yard to see if they had an old Torino laying around. I know chances of finding a S&H Torino in someone's yard are actually pretty slim, but after 10 years of owning S&H Torinos, I still find myself looking for them when I travel, too! Anyway, as Dave and his family arrived in the town they were going to stay in, he turned a corner and there it was, sitting on a dealership's lot waiting for a home. "Needless to say," Dave says, "I thought about nothing else other than purchasing it and getting it back home. I had been looking for one for a long time."


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The best part of the story, I think, is that Dave's dream car was not the red and white-striped S&H machine you see above - it was a plain light blue Torino with opera windows and a quarter vinyl roof. Dave gave the car the S&H paint treatment himself, but not in a professional paint booth at an auto body shop like most people do.

First, Dave went to Sam's Club and and bought one of those car-port canopies to use as a paint shop. He excavated the ground near his garage and replaced the dirt and weeds with stone and gravel. Then he laid a tarp over the gravel and created an "almost dust-free environment." He bought a $12 box fan from Wal-Mart and installed it outside of the canopy, cut a hole in the canopy, sealed the fan to it with duct tape (the handyman's secret weapon), and started painting!

He covered the opera windows with metal and fiberglass, then body filler. He primed all the bare metal parts, covered the whole car with plastic and masking tape, and shot the stripe area with white. Dave says, "I figured, why waste white paint on the whole car when I just need it here?" Pretty smart, Dave. You should work for Ford, because that's exactly how they painted their Limited Production S&H units back in 1976!

Dave bought 2 quarts of Viper Red and painted the rest of the car. He only had enough paint for 2 coats, and no interior parts (trunk, doors, hood) were painted. Dave will do those next year, he says. "That paint is expensive, it cost $500 for the kit." If you're keeping score, adding up the car port canopy, the fan, the duct tape, the tarp, and the paint, you can probably figure out that it's NOT necessary to pay someone $25,000 to make you a S&H replica!

Dave outlined the white stripe with 1/4" black, then clear-coated the whole car. Finally, he wet-sanded it with 1500 grit sandpaper and buffed it to a really high gloss. He hasn't replaced the blue interior yet - that will wait until next year, he says.


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This is the second Torino Dave has painted with the "Starsky" theme. His first one was back in 1978 when he was, um, much younger :-). He says he used acrylic enamel on that car, "and as crappy as it turned out, I still had kids knocking on my door looking for Dave Starsky!"

This car is certainly very, very far from being "crappy!" It looks great! The best part of it, I think, is that Dave did it himself. Not only can he take real pride in knowing he put so much work into it, but in a time when our whole country is in debt up to its eyeballs, Dave saved a lot of money by doing the work himself and not doing more than was necessary all at once.

There's certainly nothing wrong with shelling out a lot of money for a
S&H Torino on eBay if you've got the disposable income for it, but that's not the only way to go. You CAN do it yourself if you set your heart to it. If you've always wanted to make your own, I hope Dave's story inspires you!
 

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Created October 28, 2008. All Rights Reserved. Photos are the Property of the Car's Owner.

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