The 1970 Ford Torino Cobra 429 SCJ

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.

As we all know, the Mustang was the popularity contest winner in the Ford arsenal since it was introduced in 1964. For that reason, the Torino didn’t get as much respect. The sleeper in a herd of stallions. It just didn’t get much respect or attention. 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.

One of the best parts of the Torino is the look of pure all out speed coming at you when it was standing still. Most would agree the new “coke bottle” design was an improvement over the Torino’s previous matchbox design. 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.

The Torino Cobra was the out of the box pure performance model, and had a lower level of trim than the Torino GT. The Cobra was only available as a SportsRoof model, and came standard with a 4-speed close ratio transmission, Hurst shifter, competition suspension, flat black hood and grille, 7-inch-wide wheels, F70-14 tires with raised white letters, twist style exposed hood latches, and "Cobra" emblems. New options included 15-inch (380 mm) Magnum 500 wheels with F60-15 tires and flat black "Sport Slats" for the rear window. Both of these options were also available on the Torino GT.

Using the same hot-rodding techniques used to create the 428CJ, engineers warmed over the new

429 Thunderjet, to produce the 429CJ and SCJ. Rated at 375 hp, these engines were also

severely under-rated.

The best news for the potential 1970 Ford buyer was the availability of the 429 Cobra Jet engine,

which was available in the midsize Torino models. By utilizing the standard Thunderjet 429, Ford remachined the engine block to accept four-bolt main bearing caps on the second, third and

fourth journals, with the cylinder heads being modified slightly to accept larger valves and ports,

heavier valve springs, and 14mm spark plugs instead of the 18mm plugs used in standard 429

heads. All Cobra Jets used hydraulic camshafts, and all Super Cobra Jets used mechanical

camshafts, and both used stamped 1.73 ratio rocker arms with guide plates and hardened push

rods. Ford’s Muscle Parts Catalog states, “

Early 1970 CJs and all SCJs use threaded, non-positive stop studs that can be adjusted for a mechanical cam. 429CJ engines built after 11-1-69 use threaded, positive stop studs that are nonadjustable and can only be used with hydraulic cams.” The connecting rods were identical to standard 429 except for spot facing under the bolt head to resist bolt and rod fatigue, and the CJ pistons were cast-aluminum with a single intake valve relief, with SCJ pistons being forged aluminum.

Performance was excellent with the new 429 engine even though the Torino was heavier for 1970. Motor trend tested a 1970 Torino Cobra equipped with the Ram Air 370 horsepower (280 kW) 429 CJ, C-6 automatic and 3.50:1 rear axle, and it went 0 - 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.0 seconds while taking 14.5 seconds at 100 mph (160 km/h) to go through the quarter mile. Motor Trend wrote "The weight obviously helped traction, as it was fairly easy to accelerate away from a standing start with only a modicum of wheelspin."

Motor Trend also tested a 1970 Cobra with a 429 SCJ, 4-speed and 3.91:1 gears, and resulted in a 5.8 second 0 - 60 mph (97 km/h) time, with a 13.99 second quarter mile at 101.0 mph (162.5 km/h).[12] Super Stock and Drag Illustrated bested that time, in their test of a Torino Cobra equipped with the 375 hp 429 SCJ, C-6 automatic, and 3.91:1 rear gears. They were able to run the quarter mile in 13.63 seconds at 105.95 mph (170.51 km/h), however, this was after the carburetor had been modified (improved power valve, larger primary and secondary jets). Super Stock and Drag Illustrated then fitted a pair of slicks to the same Torino and ran a super quick 13.39 seconds at 106.96 mph (172.14 km/h). This was more than enough power to keep the 1970 Pontiac GTO 455 at at a length. In fact, the Cobra beat the GTO from 0-60 by 1.2 seconds and in the quarter by a second.

Then there is the ultra rare hard to find worth a mint SCJ 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.

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 It’s just time that full-size muscle cars like the Torino to make a return to the car show circuit I just can wait for my friend in Iowa to finish his. So I can make a road trip north and track test it for him.

** The top option of the 429 cubic engine was the 429 Super Cobra Jet which developed 375 HP. A regular 429 gained Super Cobra Jet [SCJ] name when the “Drag pack” was ordered. It required 3.91:1 or 4.30:1 axle ratio and included 4-bolt engine block, forged pistons, oil cooled, Holley carburetor and optional Ram Air induction which made no difference in power ratings.