Thursday, August 4, 2011

1971 Torino GT Convertible

Crowned Jewel

A family heirloom gets a makeover

Story Al Rogers

Hakan Yavalar graduated from high school in 1978 and had the fortune to receive a 1971 Torino GT convertible from his father Turk Yavalar. It was a proud day for the Yavalar family.

That 1971 Torino GT convertible has remained in the possession of Hakan since day one. “This car has a lot of memories for me and my family,” he said. “It’s been on a journey with me that started more than 30 years ago on my first job and has continued right up to my current job, remodeling real estate property. This car was once my father’s daily driver. He purchased it new and drove it to work regularly. I have fond memories, seeing him driving off to work at the local construction company with the top down and a smile on his face.”

Young adults get married, then children come along, and a car like the 1971 Torino GT convertible becomes less practical. Often, the decision is made to put it away until the right time comes along to give it a new life or a second chance to be enjoyed with top down and a happy driver behind the wheel. This Torino GT sat idle for 15 years, awaiting a special day.

The Torino is a documented 1 of 16 Maroon Metallic with automatic transmission, 302 V-8 engine, C4 Cruise-O-Matic transmission, with power steering and AM radio. The interior is black vinyl, and the convertible top is white.

In late 2009, Hakan Yavalar started his search for a company to perform a frame-off concours restoration on the 1971 Torino GT convertible. After four months, RK Motors in Mentor, Ohio, became the choice. Hakan Yavalar was impressed with the quality of workmanship, attention to detail and care the RK team put into its award-winning restorations.

The car’s story gets more intriguing with a rather surprising twist. “The son came to us with a simple request, to completely restore the Torino to its glory days,” said Joseph Carroll, president of RK Motors Restoration and RK Motors Charlotte, North Carolina. “The RK team is honored to be a part of this special moment in the Yavalar family lives.” This Torino is a prized possession with only 44,000 miles.

For their part, RK Motors Restoration returned the Torino GT to factory-correct status with the exception of a dual exhaust system per the request of Hakan Yavalar. The team completed the nut-and-bolt concours restoration in a little more than nine months.

This timing allowed Hakan to present the Torino GT convertible to his father at a party honoring Turk Yavalar’s 80th birthday. After owning it for more than 30 years, the son gave it back, returning it to the original owner, his father, as a tribute.

Turk was very surprised. For Hakan, the moment was like stepping back in time as he recalled the day in 1978 when his proud father stood before him and handed over the keys to the car.

Hakan Yavalar has children of his own, grandchildren to Turk. Hakan hopes one day his father will give the family heirloom to one of his grandkids, thus preserving the history of an automobile to be cherished with fond memories for generations to enjoy. A tradition that started 30 years earlier and extending it into the future would please Hakan.

A new chapter in the 1971 Torino GT convertible’s legacy is in the making. Ford Motor Company dropped the Torino brand from its fleet after the 1976 model. The Yavalar family has resurrected it with their family tradition. With a little luck and care, their 1971 will extend the glory of Torino into generations to come.


  1. After the 80 year old mistakes the gas for the brake there wont be much left to pass on to the grandkids! Well lets hope for the best.....

  2. The Torino GT must have had a lot of sentimental value on the family's history. Nice story. Is is significantly one of the best car heirloom stories I have read.

  3. Very interesting story. I think the Torino would last even much longer on the family generation.

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