Real Wheels: Shawnee man's 'Striped Tomato'

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Mar. 4—LIMA — Robert Point wasn't necessarily a big fan of the 1970's TV show "Starsky and Hutch."

"It was all right, I guess," the 72-year-old Shawnee Township man said of the show, which starred Paul Michael Glaser as David Starsky and David Soul as Kenneth Hutch. The two actors played the role of Southern California undercover detectives who ripped across the streets of fictional Bay City in the name of law and order.

For Point and many others, however, the real star of the show was the cool cop car they drove. The flashy red 1974 Gran Torino with its white swoosh stripe was nicknamed the "Striped Tomato."

Point rates the car much higher than "all right, I guess."

A few years ago he found himself buying a 1974 Gran Torino for $3,500 that he located on the Internet. He already owned a 1973 Gran Torino.

"I took the two cars and made one good one," Point said. The engine, a 351 Windsor V8, needed rebuilt, and a new paint job was a must.

"I put a lot of work into it," Point said.

GQ magazine calls the Gran Torino one of the most iconic cars to grace both the small and big screen. A 1970 Gran Torino was the subject of a 2009 Clint Eastwood movie, aptly named "Gran Torino."

Ford came out with the Torino in 1968. With the Fairlane as a base, the Torino got smarter styling and a more luxurious interior.

In 1970, the Fairlane was dropped, leaving the Torino to fend for itself. By 1972, the Torino featured three lines: Torino, Gran Torino and Gran Torino Sport.

The end of the line for the Gran Torino came in 1976. More than 2 million were produced in less than a decade, including 1,000 Starsky & Hutch replica cars that final year.

Point and his wife, Susan, enjoy taking their Striped Tomato to car shows. They were at the Westgate Charity Car Show last summer. The event will again be held this year on June 26 at Apollo Career Center.