So much has been written about Starsky’s beloved, candy-apple red, white-striped, two-door Ford Gran Torino – or the “Striped Tomato” as it was nicknamed by Hutch in Snowstorm – that I’ll only list the basics here, from the in-universe point of view.
In the pilot episode, Torino’s license plate is 849 ASB; later in the show’s all four seasons it is the now legendary 537 ONN. As with Hutch’s Galaxie, I wonder if this suggests a change of cars, or simply a change in registration.
The point where Starsky necessarily has to get a new, identical Torino is between 02-18 The Set-Up (Part 2) and 02-19 Survival, or January/February 1977, as the car miraculously returns in Survival in spite of being badly burned in The Set-Up. However, this time the license plate stays the same. But surely the car wouldn’t have been salvageable after this blaze?
This means at least two different Torinos for Starsky, and since the real cars were 1975 and 1976 models, one could claim Starsky bought his first striped tomato very early in 1975 (the pilot is set around February/March 1975) and the second in February 1977, after the events of The Set-Up. The latter famously took some of the bullets Gunther had meant for Starsky and Hutch in the show’s finale, Sweet Revenge. Whether the Torino gets fixed or not after that has always been as important a plot point in post-series fan fiction as whether Hutch shaves his mustache or not. Which means, very important!
For car enthusiasts, starskytorino.com is a great place for further reading about the cars used in the show and the differences between them, as well as exploring several decades’ worth of Gran Torino worship, and admiring all the restored, rebuilt, or rescued cars – or why not check if there’s a Starsky car somewhere near you?
On that note, I just learned there’s one somewhere in Finland, too! Never heard of it before, but then the cars aren’t the reason I love this show so much…
PS. I’ve added a What’s New page to the top menu, so you can see at a glance what’s new in the blog. Also, what’s in the plans next. (2019-07-16)