There was a time, say from about 1973 through 1983— a timespan that corresponds exactly with the Malaise Era— when the Ford Pinto was one of the most numerous cars on America’s roads. You saw way more Pintos than Vegas, Chevettes, Corollas, Civics, Omnis, just about any small car you can name. When I was in high school, the Pinto was one of the cheapest first-car options available for wheels-hungry teenagers; you could get an ugly runner for a C-note, any day of the week. The Pinto wasn’t a good car, but it wasn’t intolerable by the (admittedly low) compact-car standards of its time. Then, rather suddenly, all the Pintos disappeared. The Crusher grew fat on Pinto flesh, then switched to Hyundai Excels. They’re rare finds in wrecking yards today, and we’ve seen just this ’74 hatchback in this series prior to today. During a recent trip to Northern California, I found this early Pinto wagon, short quite a few parts but still exuding its essential Pinto-ness.
Some bottom-feeder East Bay car dealership hoped to sell this “perfect classic” for $1,499, but was not successful.
More than 20 years ago, I grabbed every early-70s Fasten Seat Belt light I could find, for an ambitious project that I’ll complete someday. I have many examples of this Ford version.
The hood once had some sort of JC Whitney hood scoop, which was made quasi-functional by the rectangular hole.
There’s no telling what sort of connection went between the scoop and the carburetor, because everything above the engine block is long gone.
The strength to climb the Rockies and the brakes to stop quickly on Los Angeles freeways.
From the Model T to the Pinto!
The little carefree car that could withstand a rank of giant fans placed at the roadside.
A few years later, Jackie Stewart boasted that the Pinto was faster than the Datsun B210, the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic.