This edition of Muscle Car Milestones highlights the 1970 Ford Torino Cobra. For 1970, the Torino was all-new with aircraft inspired styling courtesy of Ford designer Bill Shenk. The new Torino was five inches longer and gained an inch in wheelbase when compared to the 1969 model. These changes helped open up several styling and performance possibilities. When Lee Iacocca saw the design for the 1970 model, he felt it was a big hit. Not a bad compliment coming from the man who helped bring the Mustang to life. You’ll also hear no complaints from us. This car looks great and with big block power, could stand up to the rest of the muscle machines rolling out of Detroit.
“You can con ‘em with loud pipes and a rough idle and air scoops but when you start putting on things like oil-coolers, people know you’re playing with real money.” Motor Trend magazine, February 1970
Let’s face it. The Mustang was the hot car in Ford’s lineup since it was introduced in 1964. For that reason, the Torino didn’t get as much love. In fact, the Torino was a bit like the comic Rodney Dangerfield. It just didn’t get much respect. However, that luck seemed to change in 1970 when the Torino became its own model and cut ties to the Fairlane name. “Shaped by the wind” and “new shape of muscle for ‘70” were advertising slogans used to promote the redesigned Torino. Trims such as the GT and Cobra would round out the performance side of the Torino lineup.
Speaking of performance, the Torino Cobra looked fast even when it was parked. Most would agree the new “coke bottle” design was an improvement over the Torino’s previous boxy exterior. One of the first things that captures your attention is the blacked-out hood and grille. This probably looks a little menacing in the rear view mirror to the Chevelle driver as the Torino Cobra approaches him from behind. A facet that adds to the clean look is how the bumpers are mounted flush to the body. Another popular styling trend this year, adding to the clean appearance, was concealed windshield wipers. Options such rear window louvers and Magnum 500 rims could also be ordered to give the car a little more flair. Inside, the Snake could be equipped with amenities such as high-back bucket seats, tachometer, and center console with Hurst shifter. Buyers could also add an AM/FM radio, power windows, and dual racing mirrors to complete their car.
Coiled…and ready strike! That’s a good way to describe the 1970 Ford Torino Cobra. With its 429 cubic-inch V8 spewing 360 horsepower, the Cobra had enough venom to keep the GTO and Charger within striking distance. A four-speed manual with Hurst shifter was the gearbox of choice for the Cobra, too. Now here’s where things start to get interesting. As is, the Torino Cobra was a great muscle car. Ford could have rested on their laurels and called it a day but they didn’t. For drivers wanting something a little extra, the optional Cobra Jet 429 Ram-Air V8 with Drag Pack was available. This engine included 11.0:1 compression, heavy duty connecting rods, high rise intake manifold, and 700 cfm 4-barrel carburetor. The Drag Pack upped the ante with Traction-Lok differential, engine oil cooler, forged aluminum pistons, and 4-bolt center main bearings. Our guess is that drivers with the Drag Pack unleashed this fury more at the stop light than at the drag strip.
Performance-wise, the Torino Cobra was no slouch. In their February 1970 issue, Motor Trend put a Torino Cobra equipped with the 429 Super Cobra Jet engine, 4-speed, and 3.91:1 gearing through its paces. They squeezed 5.8 seconds from 0-60 and 13.99 seconds in the quarter mile with a speed of 101 mph. This was more than enough power to keep the 1970 Pontiac GTO 455 at bay. In fact, the Snake beat the Goat from 0-60 by 1.2 seconds and in the quarter by a second.
Talk about a needle in a haystack. Here is one rare Torino. Dubbed the Type N/W, these special Torinos were built specifically for northwest region of the United States. These limited production Torinos were decked out in Pacific Blue, Oregon Orange, and Washington Green and featured black hoods, rocker panel stripes, and argent styled wheels. 601 were planned for production but only 395 were actually built. Supposedly, only five Type N/W’s were built with the 429. Of those five, only one was outfitted with the 429 SCJ engine.
Here is something to think about. When was the last time you saw a 1970 Torino at a car show or at the local cruise-in? Yep, it’s been a while for us, too. Torinos are a rare site anywhere these days. If you have a chance to see one, be sure to get up close and personal with this rare car. Today, it seems there are more pony cars at the shows than anything else. No, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just time that full-size muscle cars like the Torino make a comeback of their own. Dodge has the Charger and Chevrolet is rolling out the new SS in a few months. Whatever happened to the popularity of the full-size performance coupe in anyone’s guess but we still hope for a comeback one day.