Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Custom Car: Starsky and Hutch (Ford Gran Torino)

Starsky and Hutch (Ford Gran Torino)

Stunt cars, camera cars, tow cars, dolly cars, and cars used for "beauty" shots varied in model year from 1974 to 1976, since the body style of the Gran Torino was unchanged. Obviously, no 1976 models were used in the pilot or the first season. The cars, on lease from Ford, were custom painted by Spelling-Goldberg Productions (on top of the factory red paint color)with the distinctive single white stripe (running from the front fender, across the doors, up and over the roof, and then symmetrically back down the other side), but in the 3rd and 4th season the producers leased one of the 1000 Limited Edition "Starsky & Hutch" PS 122 units painted to match the show's car, produced by Ford Motor Company in 1976, as a backup vehicle for the cars they were leasing at the time. The '75 models that were used during the first season had cloth bench seats and 'Bright Red' paint(code 2B). In '76, they were replaced by 3 new Torinos that had vinyl benches and were specially painted the previous year's 'Bright Red' because Ford used a different shade of red for the new models; the cars can be identified by their silver 'sight shields'(bumper filler panels)which Ford used on specially painted cars.

Ford never manufactured a Gran Torino painted in this fashion for the 1974 or 1975 model year. However, due to the success of the television series, Ford did release a limited edition (only 1000 units) "Starsky & Hutch" replica Gran Torino in 1976 (the final model year for the Torino line). Manufactured at the Chicago plant, one of these code "PS 122" units was used in the 3rd and 4th seasons of the show. This car was originally equipped with a 400 CID V8; however, one of the stuntmen damaged the engine beyond repair, and Spelling-Goldberg replaced it with a 429 CID V8. This car still resides in California.

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