1976 Ford Elite
Pico Rivera, California
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Personal luxury car|
|Body style||2-door coupe|
400 cu in (6.6 L) Cleveland V8
460 cu in (7.5 L) 385 V8
|Wheelbase||114 in (2,896 mm)|
|Successor||Ford LTD II|
The Ford Elite is a personal luxury car produced by Ford for the North American market from mid-1974 to 1976. Based on the Torino, the mid-size two-door coupe was intended to be a less expensive Thunderbird knock-off to compete with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the Chrysler Cordoba. It was essentially the concurrent Mercury Cougar XR-7 with a mild front end restyling to resemble the Thunderbird, different taillamps with a center reflector, unique twin opera windows and large color-keyed vinyl moldings placed higher on the bodysides. The interiors were essentially identical save for upholstery styles and minor trim.
Introduced in mid-1974 as the Grand Torino Elite, it was initially the top of the line model of the Torino series. Although advertised separately, it was titled and registered as a Gran Torino. For 1975 and 1976, the Grand Torino name was dropped and Elite became a stand-alone model nameplate. In all three years, the car sold well.
The Elite name was dropped after 1976 because the Ford mid-size range was restructured for the 1977 model year. The Thunderbird was dramatically reduced in size and price for 1977 by moving the nameplate to the Torino-based LTD II platform which replaced the Torino. In effect, the Elite continued restyled and marketed under the more-recognized Thunderbird name, as the previous full-sized Thunderbird was discontinued.
- 351W 351M V8 engine of 351 CID (5.8 L)
- 3-speed automatic transmission
- Power brakes (front disc brakes, rear drum brakes).
- Power steering
- Cloth bench seats
- Vinyl roof with twin opera windows, Landau (partial) vinyl top for 1976 model year.
- Protective padded body side moldings
- 400M V8 engine of 402 CID (6.6 L)
- 460 V8 engine of 460 CID (7.5 L)
- Power glass moonroof
- Power steel sunroof
- Air conditioning with standard manual control or optional Automatic Temperature Control
- Metallic Glow paint
- Cruise (speed) control
- Gauge package with tachometer, oil pressure gauge, coolant temperature gauge, and ammeter gauge
- Fuel Sentry Vacuum Gauge - monitors intake manifold vacuum to give an indication of how hard the engine is working, and thus economy (not available with gauge package).
- Fuel Monitor Warning Light - as above, but an on/off light instead of a gauge.
- Bucket seats and center console (1976 only).
The Elite name was also used in Mexico. The Ford Fairmont was introduced in Mexico in late 1977 as a 1978 model, replacing the Ford Maverick that was produced there locally. The Futura coupe with its distinctive Thunderbird-styled roofline was never offered in Mexico. Instead there was an uplevel 2-door sedan called the Fairmont Elite. It was distinguished from other Fairmonts by its higher level of equipment and vinyl roof. It used the four headlight grille from the Fairmont Futura along with Mercury Zephyr taillamps and rear quarter window louvers. For 1981, the Fairmont Elite switched to the Mercury Zephyr grille.
In 1982, the Fairmont Elite disappeared and was replaced by the new Ford Elite II, which was now offered in two and four door sedans. It continued to use the body of the Fairmont with the entire front end of the American Ford Granada installed as well as the matching rear bumper. The rear continued to use Mercury Zephyr taillamps. For 1983, The Ford Elite II swapped its Granada grille for the one used on the Mercury Cougar sedan.