I put the story we came up with on a display board. In the past, people were buying it hook, line, and sinker just like a bunch of rubes at a county fair lining up to buy snake oil. It was so easy it wasn't even fun, so I added a line at the end which says:
Never let the truth get in the way of a good story!
Even with that line in there, even people who should know better were believing it. I was at an all Ford show on Aug. 1. There was a lot of interest in the car, and a lot of questions about its origin. Two diehard long time Ford guys were commenting about how rare it was. I directed them to the last line (most people didn't bother to read that far), and they laughed, said that even though they knew it couldn't be true, they had believed it because the story had just enough of an air of reality that it could be possible. One of them said that if I took the Granada GT prototype to Hot August Nights in Reno and took the disclaimer off, it would be the hit of the show and everyone would buy the story.
The best part of that day was that another Ford guy who regularly writes articles for driving.ca came over, said he had read the origin story, and wanted to do an article on it. I directed him to the disclaimer, and after reading it, he also laughed, and thanked me for being honest or he would have written a bogus article as fact.
This is the latest version:
This car was built in a joint project with Hurst as a one-off concept car using Ford’s best-selling model of the day, the Granada. The two door version was selected to give it a sporty look to appeal to the performance car market. The intent was to make a smaller and more fuel efficient version of the discontinued Gran Torino GT, so design elements from the Gran Torino such as the hood scoop and twist hood locks were incorporated. An experimental mass air multi- port fuel injection system, roller cam, improved heads, and an overdrive manual transmission were used to optimize performance, emissions, and fuel economy.
In 1997, I spotted this car sitting neglected at the back of a used car lot in Bellingham, WA. It looked like it had the potential to be a unique project car, so I bought it for $500, and had it towed home. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, and a retired Ford engineer who has asked to remain anonymous, I was able to trace the car’s history.
I discovered that it was a one-of-a-kind fuel injected Hurst Granada GT prototype made in 1977. The muscle car era was just a memory at that point, but after a five year hiatus, Ford still thought there would still be a market for performance cars. However, gas was getting more expensive, and the 1972 OPEC oil embargo was still fresh in everybody’s minds. This, combined with the federally mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations forced Ford to attempt a compromise.
The prototype’s performance exceeded the expectations of the designers, however, it was deemed by Ford management to be too expensive for mass production. They also felt that the fuel injection system was ahead of its time and would be regarded with suspicion by consumers until it was proven; there was still some residual corporate memory of the Edsel debacle, where that model was condemned, among other things, for being “ahead of its time.”
The Granada GT prototype was destined for the crusher when it was rescued from that fate by a Ford executive vice president who used it as his daily driver. After he passed away, his widow, not realizing what she had, sold it to a young girl who eventually decided it was something of a nuisance to drive in city traffic because of its size, the manual transmission, and the relatively poor gas mileage; she traded it in at a used car lot for a Toyota Tercel. Eventually, it ended up in Bellingham.
I have turned down offers in the six figures for it (including one from Jay Leno), but there is something special about owning a unique automobile, and I just have not been able to part with it.
My work is done!!