Speed and Custom

The Purple Bird

Posted by Johnny Promo

When BurgerFuel franchisee, Cam McLeod, swung the doors open to his first BurgerFuel store in Taupo back in 2006, he vowed that someday soon he would have the matching Muscle car to go with it. 


Dream come true

Fast forward ten years and that dream has finally come true in the form of a 1971 Ford Torino/Ranchero. The car came up for sale, a deal was done and BurgerFuel Franchisee, Cam McLeod, was immediately notified that a candidate had been chosen. From there the car was bought up to Auckland where it received a complete new interior, a lowering job which bought the front down an eye pleasing three inches and, of course, a custom BurgerFuel paint job to finish the package. 

Jet Age Inspiration

The 1971 Torino/Ranchero was originally designed by Bill Schenck, a guy who once worked for Hughes Aircraft designing military jets, who landed a lead role in Fords design department. After a number of fortunate accidents, including an after lunch incident with an ‘Oreo cookie’, he got a position as lead designer of what would be the very last Ford designed in the Muscle Car era. Given that, he wanted to make sure this design would be like no other before.

In fact, Ford’s Vice President of Planning at the time, Lee Iacocca, was so impressed with the initial clay models of the Torino/Ranchero design he made sure Schenck was kept happy and insisted he be able to keep this project top secret within Ford until the car was entirely finished. This was something that had never been done before and was never to be repeated again. 

Much like the famous ‘skunkworks’ in area 51 Nevada, where the famous spy plane, the Lockheed sr 71, code name; ‘blackbird’ was designed. Schenck chose only a few trustworthy guys to work with on this iconic car with him. Rumour has it that the ‘coke bottle’ shaped sides and flared front end of this design was a nod to the then, top secret, profile of the blackbird itself. A plane so secret, only a few humans in the CIA even knew of its existence.

How Schenck knew back then nobody really knows but looking at the Torino/Ranchero when you look at the distinctive wide front end, and side profile of this beauty you can clearly see the similarities. One can only imagine how a guy with that background, armed with only one chance to get it right and a mandate to design a completely new car for Fords Lee Iacocca would want to do something never to be repeated again.

This once top-secret bird will now be seen by many as it cruises around BurgerFuel stores in Hamilton and Taupo. So don’t be surprised if you see a flash of purple and the roar of a high performance engine flying at low level, it’s BurgerFuel’s very own “Purple Bird”, in the form of a 1971 Ford Torino/Ranchero.