Rambler Rogue Registry
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Learn more about Torinos at:

http://www.torosite.com.ar (in Spanish)
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http://www.clubamigosdeltorino.com.ar
the official homepage of the 
Friends of the Torino Club (in Spanish)
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http://www.geocities.com/cupetorino/ (in Spanish)
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www.pasion-torino.com.ar (in Spanish)

So what's a Torino? Not just a Ford! Here's the scoop on the Argentinian Torino according to a series of e-mails from Andrés Martorano:

"I'll tell you more about the "Torino," or the Argentine Rambler Rogue," he began. "You can't imagine how popular that car was in the 70s... here...!!

"I'll send a lot of photos to you, in another mail, but you must wait for now because I need to take the pictures at the next meeting of the owners. At this event there are great cars, in a perfect state of conservation, you know...

"For the moment, I will tell you the history (at least, everything that I know)

A SHORT HISTORY LESSON

"At the end of 1955, the Kaiser Corporation of the United States started a branch in Argentina, that was known as "Industrias Káiser Argentina" (better known as simply IKA). More precisely, IKA was located in Córdoba City (a very industrial place, where, for example, General Motors is located). It was the launching of one of the most important automobile ventures in the country in middle '50s, and it began with the production of utilitarian vehicles (the Jeep line, under American Motors' control) and of the "Kaiser Carabela,", a local design with high technology for the time, patterned after the North American Manhattan.

"Years later, IKA signed an agreement in which American Motors and the Regie Renault agreed to produce some vehicles locally -- cars that were to compete with imported products of all segments of the market. To make this happen, the catalog of IKA was enlarged to a wide range, with cars as diverse as the Renault Dauphine (a small city car), up to a Jeep, and including the Rambler Ambassador and others cars of the American Motors and Renault lines.

"Such a variety didn't give good economic results, although sales had been considerable. IKA-Renault needed a vehicle able to compete directly with the comparable Fords and Chevrolets. This segment was populated by Ford's Falcon and Chevrolet's Nova at that time. The early Rambler was big, heavy and not well accepted by the public. It had to be replaced.

"The agreement with American Motors allowed them to choose an interesting American car as starting point: the Rambler Rogue. But it was not so simple because the surveys and market studies indicated that the future car of IKA-Renault should have a local touch in its style that took it far away from the typical North American car.

"The body designer Pininfarina, accepted the task of adding to the Rambler Rogue a "Latin touch" but only recommending "plastic surgery" in the front and in the interior. The car was re-named Torino giving it an Italian connotation (important in a country like Argentina, where more than 30% are descended from that origin) and the added value of paying homage to the bull in the Argentinean pampas.

"There was a second intention -- to link the emblem of the bull with the "cavallino" (horse) of Ferrari which had been represented in such a defiant attitude, or with the angry bull of Lamborghini. And so the emblem of the "Torino" is a bull standing in a similar position. These were two good mirrors to reflect the image of a car that was to enter the market with the highest power and speed in Argentina.

"The first studies determined that the Torino should receive a motor of about 2.0 or 2.5 liters [123 to 154 CID -- ed] as a maximum. However, the later analyses revealed the motor called the "Tornado" to be ideal. It was a six cylinder by American Motors and with a cylinder capacity that varied between the 3000 and the 3800 cm3 [182 to 232 cubic inches], developed by AM, with OHC, hemispheric chamber, and central spark plugs. The license to build this engine was signed with IKA and the "Tornado" was set to power the Torino. It was a high output engine, very adequate for both races and street performance.

[Editor's note: Andrew Hay writes, "AMC had nothing to do with the 230-ohc Tornado engine. Kaiser developed it to replace the continental 226 they had been using, and it shares many features and dimensions (bearings, bore spacing, stroke, etc.). Early Wagoneers had Tornados; late-'60s m715s did, too.]

"That engine was repackaged by the engineers of IKA-Renault with the technical assistance of an very important engineer called Oreste Berta, who was (...and is actually, too...) a winner in races of touring cars.


1966-69 front end
"The launch of the car took place in the Municipal Racing circuit of Buenos Aires (which is used for the Formula 1 race every year) on the morning of November 30, 1966. It was received by journalists and the public as a truly Argentinean car -- the manufacturer was very successful in hiding the origins of the car. The impact was tremendous. Three models were presented that day -- a sedan with a 3-liter motor and 3-speed transmission, a coupe with a 230cid motor, Holley carburetor, and 4-speed ZF gearbox, and a top-of-the-line version called the "380W" equipped with the 3.8 liter motor with three horizontally mounted Weber 2-barrel carburetors. This engine produced 220 hp and propelled the car to a maximum speed of 210 kph (almost 130mph)!

FROM SUCCESS TO FAILURE AND VICE VERSA

"The Torino sedan was aimed directly at the Ford Falcon, but came with more equipment and comfort options. The coupes, on the other hand, occupied a position at the end of the market that was populated more or less with sport versions of the Chevrolet Nova, Ford Falcon Futura or Chrysler Valiant GT (and other models by Chrysler local). Also in this segment of the market were some cars imported by Mercedes and Alfa Romeo. However, in spite of the initial enthusiasm and their success in the sport (it debuted and won San Pedro's "Turn for Tourism of Highway") the Torino line did not live up to its expectations.

"Sales continued to be favorable for the Ford Falcon and during the first three years of production, IKA-Renault could not surpass the 15,000 sales mark. From the successful launch, it had changed to a near-failure in the following years. The hot rod enthusiasts leaned toward the Torino, but the majority of buyers selected the Falcon: conservatives, being serious and careful, continued to choose the proven model.

"But it would be outside of those areas where this car began to show the first elements of its mechanical ability.

Continue....