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Leonard Tyler’s ‘68 Ford Torino was in the right place at the right time

Leonard Tyler’s ‘68 Ford Torino was in the right place at the right time

Photo provided by Bruce Kunz

Len’s 1968 Ford Fairlane Torino GT has been modified, that’s no secret. The raised suspension, in the back and lowered in the front, is what we car guys called a “rake” back in the day. The modification meant better zero to 60 times on the track as well as the street.

This is a F.O.R.D. story, which typically stands for “Found On Road Driving.” However, in this case, the Ford seen here was standing still and I was driving. I spotted the car at Mark II Tune Up and Auto Services on Lincoln Trail in Fairview Heights, Illinois. I didn’t need to employ my “old car radar” to spot this gleaming white 1968 Ford Fairlane Torino, all decked out in muscular trim.

The shop is owned by Ron Beach, who along with Eva Callico, help Leonard Tyler maintain his stable of cars which includes the Torino, his latest acquisition, along with a 1966 Comet Caliente, a 1986 Ford F-150 and two daily drivers, a VW Passat and a Dodge Durango.

The “Torino” name was new for Ford cars in the 1968 model year, taking the place of the former Fairlane 500 XL in the mid-size lineup. 

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Len is an Army veteran who worked IT for the Army, lived in Hawaii for a time and then settled here in Illinois. He now works as an engineer and an information technology contractor.

Len was in search of a fun-to-drive muscle car and found the Torino on Facebook Marketplace. While searching for the car, he couldn’t find it, so he bought the Comet instead. Somehow, he stumbled across the Torino again and contacted the seller, Gary Vandeven from Marble Hill, Missouri, near Cape Girardeau. During the roughly 20 years that Gary owned the car, he had a major restoration and build done. When Gary bought the car, it didn’t even have an engine or transmission!

The Torino needed a total restoration. Gary, with help from his younger brother, Larry, embarked on the restoration project which took most of the 20 years to complete. They put in a 351 V-8 from another car, along with a four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst shifter.

The car was originally painted Wimbledon white – a factory Ford color  but now wears oxford white – a later model Ford color.

I’m looking forward to meeting Len, seeing his other cars and hopefully getting a ride in the Torino! (Yes, that was a hint Len!). I’ve never met a Torino I didn’t like, having owned two 1970 Torinos back in the day: a GT convertible with a 429 SCJ (Super Cobrajet) and a coupe with a 351 Cleveland – also with a 4-speed manual and Hurst shifter.

FUTURE FIN MAN HAPPENINGS: It’s still a bit early, but I’m visiting a collection later this month that I’m hoping may be the location for Rollin’ with the FIN MAN VI. No details yet, but I’m planning to have it between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Stay tuned right here as things develop.


This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios. The news and editorial departments had no role in its creation or display. Brand Ave. Studios connects advertisers with a targeted audience through compelling content programs, from concept to production and distribution. For more information contact sales@brandavestudios.com.
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Bruce Kunz is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor for Brand Ave. Studios.

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