1971 Ford Torino 500 Spent 28 Years In A Tennessee Forest, Trees Nearly Swallowed It Whole


The Fairlane, introduced in 1955 and canceled at the end of the 1970 model year, endured as a staple of Ford Motor Company for sixteen years. Its replacement, the Torino, lasted only until 1976 (after it was first used in 1968 as an up-scale variant of the Fairlane). Scrapping two nameplates in one year (the Fairlane and the Falcon) wasn’t to the public’s taste, as sales dropped considerably in 1971.
The Torino made landfall as a high-end trim of the mid-size Fairlane, and two years later, the Blue Oval switched roles: the Fairlane became a Torino variant. It didn’t last long – just one model year – and the Torino remained the sole nameplate in the intermediate range, offering a staggering fourteen different versions of the nameplate in six body styles, from convertibles to hardtops (two- and four-doors) to fastbacks to four-door sedans and finally wagons.

Total production was down to 326,463 units from the previous year’s total of 407,493 (230,411 Torinos, 110,029 Fairlanes, and 67,053 Falcons). The 1971 best-seller was the two-door hardtop (shared by the base model and the ‘500’ higher trim) by far, with 127,000, more than a third of the entire Torino production run. The buyers bulked toward the ‘500’ version, with 89,966 units sold.

Four main trim levels were offered – the base, the 500, the Brougham, and the GT (if we count the Cobra as separate, then it’s five basic variants, wagons and Rancheros notwithstanding). The Ford Torino 500 alone garnered over 138,000 copies from its four distinct body styles (four-door sedan and hardtop, two-door ‘sportsroof’ and hardtop).
While the ‘500’ fastback didn’t fare spectacularly, with just 11,150 units, the sedan lingered in the middle of the sales charts, with 35,650 cars. It’s not particularly rare but not widespread, either. Chances are that if you’re lucky, you might spot one in your neck of the woods at one point.


Well, speaking of woods, that’s exactly where one Torino 500 four-door sedan found its resting place in 1996. In all fairness, when the car was dumped there, there wasn’t a tree in sight, but in 2024, a whole forest had grown around and through the vehicle. And this is no ordinary occurrence of ‘sapling shoots upwards through a car’s rotten floor’ or its empty engine bay.

No, sir, not this time. This Tennessee tree grew around a tie rod, eventually swallowing the metal bar altogether. It took serious logging tools to get the car out of its lumber imprisonment – watch the combined efforts of a team of car nuts starring in the video from FlatBroke Garage. To get a detailed close-up look, the YouTuber and his buddies had to cut the car free and drag it to a more permissible area of operations (a backyard).
Surprisingly, after almost three decades of living wild, the Torino is not completely gone—but rust has eaten the corners of the cowl and corroded the underside. The 302 small-block V8 is sitting under a two-barrel carb. Despite its obvious eroded appearance, it turns very easily by hand.

The odometer reads 80,846 miles (130,109 km), and the interior is shot, but the body retains its integrity. Except for the passenger front fender, the sheet metal appears straight, and some of it could probably be salvaged for other cars. The YouTuber is not convinced he wants to get this Torino up and running again—although reviving the venerable 4.9-liter engine could be the easy part—but he’s inclined to keep what’s valuable and scrap the rest.