True Stories: Gran Torino (Part One)

in truestories •  last year 

If you want to learn about True Stories, it’s tag and what it represents, then please see my previous post.

Gran Torino Part One.png

What you are about to read is a True Story, and everything has been kept intact with what my memory holds.


March 1994

The Americans love their cars and having lived in the United States for a decent amount of time, I’m here from the perspective of a Brit to tell you something about it in this and other forthcoming stories.

Shortly after arriving at Phoenix, Arizona without having any intention of ever returning to the UK I needed some form of transportation. One doesn't walk in America or use buses, everyone has a car.

After contacting several car owners using the old fashioned newspaper and phone method (this was just before the Internet took off) and testing driving a few ‘boats’ as they call them I gave up.

’I had test drives in several extra-long and wide cars just like this one’

Phoenix is a hot city, it rarely rains and so the boats of the seventies last longer and don't rust so quickly.

You get inside and turn on the AC, but the AC is bust and has been for years.

’that’s unless you count 80F hot air as air conditioning’

Next, you are blinded by the sun and pull down the visor so you can see the road. The visor comes away in your hand scattering dust all over your face before completely disintegrating.

This is my memory of one particular boat that had been resting in someone’s driveway for several years just waiting for some mug to buy it. Well, that person wasn’t going to be me.

For the first few months, I was using MickeySoft's leather couch as a bed and seeing me disgruntled and pissed off figured he had the answer.

...'my 1990 Filofax with 'Dusty's' number. I keep all kinds of relics from the past. The number still rings, quite unbelievable after 25 years'...

I know this dude who fixes up cars’, he said to me one day after another failed attempt at buying some old shitheap that might just drive if the day happened to be Wednesday and the wind was blowing from the east.

I was introduced to 'Dusty', a 6 foot 6 bloke probably in his late 20's, leather-faced, sun-bleached with long unkempt hair who looked like he had worked with his hands all his life.

He was never exactly friendly with me, my British accent charm spell failing to work on his rather dim brain.

I have the perfect car for you’, he exclaimed as though this was something from heaven I was about to feast my eyes on.

’the car of my dreams? Hardly but I would have taken it despite doing around 10 miles to the gallon’

A 1970 Gran Torino.

Yes, the same one Starsky and Hutch had driven around in their extremely cheesy cop show in the mid-'70s, but this one was missing the white strip down the sides, shit brown in colour and I was struggling to discern paint from rust.

Give me a couple of days and I’ll have it looking good as new’, he promised giving me a lopsided grin look like someone who’s head had been emptied of 90% of the brain matter.

I’ll need the cash upfront so I can get the parts and get it running for ya’, he continued.

This should have been my wake-up call but as MickeySoft was personally recommending this bloke I reluctantly conceded and what's more, was put on the spot.

...'just pretend it's brown and you get an idea of what I was presented with'...

500 Dollars lighter I waited, and then waited some more.

I did have Dusty’s number and called more than once to find out what was going on.

He was not exactly forthcoming and told me he needed more time and it was ‘tougher than he thought’ to fix the ‘iconic vehicle

More days passed and I hassled MickeySoft to contact ‘Dusty’ about the car. He was getting agitated at me but I figured him partly responsible for pushing the idea on to me.

After around a week, a frantic MickeySoft ran into the lounge where I was watching America’s sorry excuse for MTV (it was so much better in the UK), and excitedly told me the car was ready.


I knew what was coming next; a ride on the back of ‘that’ motorcycle.

While being the driver of two-wheeled upright vehicles is perfectly fine, riding pillion absolutely terrifies me. Call me a control freak, but I like to be in control of vehicles not named, ‘car’.

…’lean into the corners'.. the sardonic grin on his face somehow manifesting itself on the back of his helmet to jeer me’…

The ride was fortunately quite short but I was positively quaking after disembarking from MickeySoft’s racing bike.

Unlike him, I didn’t have a helmet as it was not a requirement in the state of Arizona.

This was my second visit to ‘Dusty’s place’. Just like his name, the area was filled with dust and looked like a builder’s yard with a scruffy shack at one end and half a dozen knackered looking cars at the other in various states of disrepair.

’my memories are faded, but what’s left up there isn’t picturesque!’

Without wasting any time, MickeySoft yelled, ‘See ya Bryn’, and took off back to his apartment, bike speeding away.

I had a bad feeling about this like I was being set up but surely MickeySoft, sysop of the Final Frontier and supposed leader of the 'business shit' group Nokturnal Trading Alliance was not in league with some dense witless blockhead, but possible gifted repairer of ancient cars?

I did not need to approach the shack as I spotted Dusty emerging from underneath a terrible looking car that looked suspiciously like the Gran Torino I had seen just a week before.

To be continued...

All images are cited and are free to use, or in the public domain.



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Oh! And...


British accent charm spell can backfire with Americans. They have minority complexes because Brits have more than 250 years of history, and they can't recognise a cogney charmer even if it hits them right between the eyes.

Jamie was a victim on that account!

Oh how emotional! I had few failures.., one dude who had less up there than 'Dusty' tried to imitate my accent.. according to my fellow local colleagues.

You are obviously a bigger charmer than Jamie, and he is probably up in top ten contemporary charmers even though some of that oozing charisma has oozed of with age.

it was 25 years ago., I couldn't do it now :)

At some point we just have to change from charm to oozing grandfatherliness. In between are the years where our children mock us for no good reason.

Very interesting. I was lucky enough to get the car that used to be belong to my grandma, so I didn't have to worry too much about it breaking down. At first anyway. I did find myself stranded on the side of the road several times later with that car. I look forward to reading the rest of your story. Maybe Clint Eastwood will write a movie about it. Oh wait... :)

Maybe Clint Eastwood will write a movie about it. Oh wait... :)

Showing your age now mate!

deranged You just received DERANGED @slobberchops Keep up the great work, view all your tokens at

Since you didn't intend to ever return to the UK, how's your accent now? Staying in Phoenix,,,,,,,?🤣🤣

Well the thing is, I returned 18 months later.. (that's another story).., but I did develop a drawl while there.

It's gone now and I have my northern accent back but in the event of visiting the US again, can quite quickly return.

You're actually right a visit again can make it return, lol so many informations in your story I enjoyed reading, just I plan to comment and actually don't remember anymore

Thanks for reading, it's good to know someone is!

Ahahahaha Another true story of Slobberchops? I love it!

You announced your initiative just after I decided I needed a little time away, and I had no idea. I think this tag is where I'll probably come back to publishing here.

Thanks. For sticking, for tirelessly promoting, and being funny at the same time.

Good to see you back, after TSE folded I haven't heard much from the old crew.

Are there still Gran Torino's floating around AZ? I wouldn't be surprised if there are.. or any of the old boats.

  ·  last year (edited)

Oh, yeah. There are Gran Torino's and lots of 50s, 60s, and 70s cars. In my 'workshop' right this minute is a '65 Thunderbird that needs some attention which is mostly down to fixing the power windows. It's a show grade car...

There really is a large group of 'old car' guys around. Mostly they are looking for cars of their youth in the later part of their lives. I occasionally take one in for work, I'm NOT a restorer. Just a mechanic that was real time with these cars in when they were current.

My Sister had a '70 Torino when she was in High School. My brother and I tuned it a bit... She turned that Torino into junk and drove a 1950 Chev Pickup to college (that was restored) because my Dad really liked the idea of her driving a 6 cylinder rig with no chance of really excessive speed.

down to fixing the power windows.

Power windows? You mean Electric windows on a car from '65? Did they exist then?

I didn't see any here until the 90's!

Just a mechanic that was real time with these cars in when they were current.

Do you know 'Dusty' from Mesa? I could leave the number ringing and tell him he's a twat if he answers. Are 602 number still current from 25 years ago?

Hey @slobberchops, here is a little bit of BEER from @steevc for you. Enjoy it!

Lol, you and your cligffhangers!

Hehe, far too long for one sitting I say!

I've had friends over the years who told me how they'd gone to the US for several months, bought a car for next-to-nothing, gone on an amazing road trip and then sold the car for more than they bought it for. It sounded so easy! Looking forward to finding out what happened next...

I just wish my tale had a happy ending, but I'm already saying far too much!

I kind of suspected that! :D

Hi, @slobberchops!

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I'm waiting to hear if you learned to slide across the bonnet before jumping into your mean machine :)

Have a !BEER, but not if you are driving.

I could have attempted that but what with all the rust on the bonnet and jagged metal I would need a new pair of shorts per go!