“I always wanted a muscle car,” Shane Klug told me. “I was one of those kids that grew up just dreaming about it.” So in June 1992, the year after he graduated high school, then 18 year old Shane bought his 1970 Torino. There have been a lot of changes over 29 years, transforming the Ford into this gorgeous, kick-ass hot rod.
Shane shelled out $3000 for the Torino that he said “looked like a total holdover from the 80s. It had pinstripes all over it. It was jacked up on air shocks and had tires that stuck out about 8 inches on each side with some sort of 10-hole aftermarket wheels. It even had dice hanging from the window.”
Shane immediately took those wheels off and put on steel wheels. He got rid of the air shocks and started saving his money to build a 460.
Two years later, in 1994, Shane was able to install a garage-built 460. In 1998 he had the interior done. In 2000 he and his neighbor painted the car. And then Shane just enjoyed the Torino for 10 years. Then things started getting serious.
In 2010, the current 572 cubic inch big block was installed. In 2011 the car was back-halved with a tube chassis. Two years later, the entire front subframe was replaced and everything was tied together. The Torino had become a vastly different car than the original 302 two-barrel Shane acquired in 1992.
For all the changes it’s been through, there was never any doubt about the kind of motor that would be in Shane’s Ford.
“I was taken home in a ‘66 Galaxie,” he said, “that my dad put a big block in – against his dad’s wishes. I grew up wanting a big block. I had posters of 429 Bosses on my walls.”
His current engine is a 572 cubic inch big block, based on a Ford A460 block with 4.500” bore and stroke. All of the rotating assembly components are forged: Scat crank and H-beam rods, and Diamond forged pistons. The cam was custom ground specifically for the Torino by Comp Cams and has .745 intake and .720 exhaust lift. It activates Crower solid roller lifters and Ford Racing roller rocker arms with Jomar rocker stud girdles. Shane has a set of Jon Kaase Racing Engines P-51 cylinder heads with a single plane Ford Racing Products intake manifold based on the Edelbrock Victor design.
A Holley 1050 cfm Dominator carb provides the fuel. Although a 1050 Dominator is not a common street carb, Shane says it’s very responsive, and that the Dominator’s wide base does a better job of delivering fuel to the corner cylinders. A Mallory 250 gph fuel pump with 10 AN lines and a full return system feeds the Holley. Custom headers feed into stainless steel exhaust pipes, with an H-pipe, to the mufflers.
An MSD 7AL electronic ignition, with a modified billet distributor provides the spark. The standard MSD ignition for a Ford big block sits up very high, but Shane’s unit uses the top half from a 351 Windsor, with the bottom half for a big block, to sit much lower on the engine.
A Kaase oil pump does the job of keeping everything lubed. Shane had to bump out the oil pan sump to clear the Kaase pump. A Be Cool radiator with twin fans keeps the big block cool – with the help of a very clever water pump set up.
Shane’s Ford Racing Products water pump is driven by a small electric motor. The motor drives the water pump at a constant speed independent of the motor’s RPM. The setup does save a little bit of horsepower, but that was not the reasoning behind it. The annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit – which Shane always attends – is why he set it up this way. “It’s like a parking lot,” he said of the Cruise. “You’re just idling for hours.” But with the electric motor driving the water pump, Shane’s engine temperature stays at 180 degrees all day.
Shane’s overall approach was for the engine to produce streetable horsepower. “The motor’s not on kill,” he told me. “I could make more horsepower with more cam and more compression, but I was looking for torque and horsepower in the street RPM range.”
He’s succeeded. Running a 10:1 compression ratio, a dyno run showed the big block putting out 732 ft-lbs of torque at 4800 RPM, and 749 horsepower at 6100 RPM. And it runs comfortably on 92 octane pump gas. (Which is good because Shane’s getting about 4 mpg.)
The streetability goal is also reflected in the Ultimate Converter Concepts torque converter that was specifically made for Shane’s set up. The converter sits in front of a fully rollerized C6 automatic transmission with a reverse manual valve body. Shane picks his gears using a Winter’s Sidewinder shifter.
With the big block in place, the next step for the Torino was the custom tube chassis in the rear. The 1970 Torino was a unibody car, and Shane had the entire factory back end removed. “They literally cut away everything behind the back seat,” he said. “You opened the trunk and it was just four walls of sheet metal.”
A back half tube chassis was installed, with four-link suspension, coil overs, mini tubs, and a six point roll bar. To keep the (formerly) unibody car straight during the installation, the car was welded to a surface plate during the chassis fabrication so it didn’t move and stayed flat.
A fuel cell and a custom 9″ pro-mod style rear end went in at this time as well. A custom drive shaft connects the C6 to the rear end, which has a 4.10 Detroit locker differential with 31-spline Strange axles.
That’s a lot of fabrication, and I asked Shane how long it took. “I dropped that car off in January and I think they gave it back to me in August,” he said. “You know that when a shop tells you seven weeks, that means seven months.”
Next up, two years after the rear suspension, there was a very similar rebuild for the front. The stock front end was completely gutted, including getting rid of the large shock towers. The engine compartment got all new sheet metal, and a coil over A-arm suspension was installed. The front and rear clips were tied together with sub-frame connectors and the roll bar.
Amazingly, the ratio of promised time to construct to actual time was the same for the front end. The front chassis got done in four months, after they’d told Shane it would take four weeks. “I only lost the first month or two of that summer,” he said.
The Torino’s new suspension includes power rack and pinion steering, and manual Wilwood disc brakes on all four wheels. The power steering / manual brake combination actually matches how the car was originally built by Ford, and Shane thinks it’s worked out in his favor. Since the motor doesn’t make a lot of vacuum, it would be difficult to run a power brake booster. He’s using an F-250 master cylinder to activate the Wilwoods.
A self-described “wheel snob”, Shane has stayed with the look of stock steel wheels he first installed in 1992. However, his current steelies are anything but stock. The Torino sports black powder coated 15″ steel wheels. All four of them have custom offsets. The front wheels are 7″ wide with 245 tires. The rears are 12″ wearing Mickey Thompson ET Street Radial Pro tires. The wheels are designed to mount factory Ford hub caps, and Shane’s considering adding them.
Today, Shane’s Torino is obviously a high end hot rod, but it wasn’t always that way. Budget and time constraints were something he often had to work around. “It was one of those things,” he said, “when you’re 18 and you don’t know any better and you think ‘I want to buy a car and fix it up’ and you don’t’ really know what that entails.”
Two of the best examples of how he was able to deal with those constraints are the upgrades he was able to make to the interior and the body.
Here’s what Shane told me about the interior:
“This story is going to sound like BS but I swear it’s true. In 1998, I was 24 years old and married and $1000 might as well have been a million dollars to me back then. I worked at a grocery store and one of the bread delivery guys was a car guy. He told me about this lady that does interiors. She used to work in one of the Buick plants in Flint doing seamstress work. I drove out to rural Flint and went to her house.
“She was 100 years old. Little old lady. She’s like 4 foot nothing tall and weighs about 80 pounds. She opens up her garage and there are bats of material up to the ceiling – and a pathway to an old-fashioned black Singer sewing machine. She says ‘Let’s pick out what material you like.’
“I don’t remember what she charged me, but it was so little that – even at that time when I didn’t have any money – I paid her double what she asked. I couldn’t let her do that much work for so little money. She did a beautiful job and that’s the same interior in the car to this day.”
The Torino’s body work and paint followed a similar story. New neighbors moved in next door to Shane. He was talking to the wife and she said that her husband ran a body shop and that he’d help Shane paint the Torino. “She threw him under the bus,” Shane recalled.
At the time Shane still worked at the grocery store. He’d leave the store when his shift was done and go to the neighbor’s body shop. His neighbor would close the shop and the two of them would work for several hours each night for that entire summer. They fixed the body and painted the car – basically a body off paint job – for the cost of the materials.
And that body work wasn’t trivial. The rear fenders had to be cut out, and there were no replacement body panels available for Torinos at that time. So Shane’s neighbor did some old school body work: tack welding in steel and then hammering out an arc that followed the wheel well. All while he sat on a milk crate using a variety of hammers.
With the body work done, the Torino was sprayed with the factory Calypso Coral color, which it still sports today. The hood is new, however, a change made necessary by the big block’s intake setup.
The current hood sports a Mustang Boss 429 scoop that had to be built up to be taller to clear the air cleaner. In addition to making the scoop taller, Shane cut a little bit off the bottom of the air cleaner’s base to make sit lower. Even with all that, there was so little clearance that Shane had to find a recessed wing nut to secure the air cleaner. The end result has just enough room for him to get his pinkie between the air cleaner and the hood scoop.
As you might imagine, with all he’s done to it, Shane really enjoys driving the Torino. “I have a blast,” he told me.
Shane is a fireman in Detroit, and his work schedule provides for a lot of time off. Throughout the summer, whenever he’s not at work, he’s at a cruise or car show whenever he can. In fact, Shane saves his vacation time during the year, and takes it all in August. Car shows and cruises fill the month, which is highlighted by the Woodward Dream Cruise.
“It’s the week leading into the cruise and that Saturday,” he said. “You can’t see everything. On the day of the cruise I walk for miles and miles. The people in charge of it say it’s a million people and 40 to 50 thousand cars. It’s insane. And it’s cool that it’s my backyard.”
Shane’s girlfriend Mitzi enjoys cruising in the Torino with him. And she’s also a lifelong fan and participant of the Woodward Cruise as well. Her dad was even a Ford mechanic.
Shane said cars were even a part of their dating. “At our age,” he said, “there’s like an interview process. Do you want to live here? Are you OK with me retiring in a few years? One of the things was – I go to car stuff a lot. It always caused a little bit of grief with past girlfriends.”
But not with Mitzi. She was all in.
Of course, neither Shane or Garage Hot Rods would encourage street racing, but Shane does have some interesting stories about mutual acceleration contests he’s been involved in. Mitzi factors into one of them as well.
Shane told me that most of Woodward Avenue is in Oakland County, which is the richest county in Michigan. When he’s going to Woodward Avenue from where he lives, he has to go through there.
Shane said the Oakland area has just about every supercar there is: Ferraris, Porsches, Hellcats, Corvettes. And he’s had some opportunities to participate in those acceleration contests, “with a lot of success,” he told me. (Although the Torino hasn’t made a run at the drag strip, Shane thinks it could be a 10 second car.)
But it turns out that the first – and the only time – Shane got stopped by the police for what could be called excessive acceleration, Mitzi was in the Torino with him.
“The Friday before Woodward Cruise we were coming home,” Shane told me. “There was an Audi at the stoplight next to me. I knew I shouldn’t do it, but I couldn’t help myself. The light turns and he leaves. I hammer it and catch him and pass him. I’m probably just about touching 100 and I see the lights behind us.”
The guy in the Audi turned off, and the cop pulled Shane and Mitzi over. Shane thinks the cop saw the City of Detroit union sticker in his back window and that worked in Shane’s favor.
The cop told Shane to “Slow the f— down! You’re ruining your Woodward Cruise.” Shane badly wanted to tell the cop that HE was ruining Shane’s Woodward Cruise, but he wisely refrained from doing so.
With Shane’s vision and execution, his Torino has been completely changed into a state-of-the-art hot rod. It wasn’t always easy, and it took him 20 years to do it, but the end result is well worth the effort.
Photos courtesy of Shane Klug.
Click here to see more pictures of Shane’s Torino
You can follow Shane and his Torino on Instagram via @572torino.