The Truth About Cars » pinto http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:00:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » pinto http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Vellum Venom Vignette: World Industrial Design Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:37:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852745 This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the […]

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This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the craft known as industrial design.

The BMW i8 is a revolutionary piece of Transportation Design. The i8′s key is no slouch in the Industrial Design department. Without rehashing what others say, it’s clear that Industrial Designers took the best attributes of the i8, the smart phone and today’s latest ignition keys to make something stunning.

i8-craddle

Not to mention the i8′s key fob has a style that looks great in your hand and (sorta) blends into the assertive wedge forms present on the i8 console.  It’s a great piece of Industrial Design that forces you to consider how an Industrial Designer enriched your automotive hobby/career.

Take this “utility” key for example:

In some respects the Ford Pinto was an underrated piece of Engineering and Industrial Design. Sure, it needed that rubber pad to protect the gas tank from the rear axle.  But when it comes to simple, durable and honest Design, the Pinto worked.

Certainly not VW Beetle stylish nor Honda Civic enlightened, but dig this key: once cut for your ignition this baby gapped spark plugs, screwed down anything under the hood, let you crack open a beer and then fire up the beast so you can drive with a cold brew in your hand while you keep on truckin!!! 

Perhaps I got that last part wrong, so I am ready for the Best and Brightest to correct my weak Nixon Era Ford knowledge. But the Pinto utility key looks like the coolest gadget to have in your pocket in the early 1970s.  What the hell is an Apple iPhone anyway?  Sounds like gibberish talk of those nattering nabobs of negativism!

Just make sure you know which gap on the gapping tool is the right one for your engine.

Nice job integrating the Pinto logo and patriotic color scheme on a tool that elegantly and cheaply combines many things into a small hunk of metal. And that’s the heart of Industrial design: it plays a crucial role in dreaming, engineering (in theory) and producing exceptional products. The bottle opener is a bizarre feature by today’s standards, but it proves yesteryear was a simpler and stupider time.

And the Pinto/i8 keys do show how Industrial Design advanced over the decades. So to you, dear reader, Happy World Industrial Design Day!

Thank you for reading and have a fantastic weekend.

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/junkyard-find-1972-ford-pinto-wagon/#comments Wed, 21 May 2014 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=825650 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 […]

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08 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere 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.
11 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSome bottom-feeder East Bay car dealership hoped to sell this “perfect classic” for $1,499, but was not successful.
04 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMore 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.
06 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe hood once had some sort of JC Whitney hood scoop, which was made quasi-functional by the rectangular hole.
05 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s no telling what sort of connection went between the scoop and the carburetor, because everything above the engine block is long gone.

01 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1972 Ford Pinto Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin


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.

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TTAC Project Car: Citizen Sierra http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/ttac-project-car-citizen-sierra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/ttac-project-car-citizen-sierra/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 12:03:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=635937 It’s been a while since our last update on TTAC’s intercontinental project car: a UK-spec 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia finished in Rio Brown.  Since then the Sierra’s gifted creator passed away and more positively, Ford wisely ditched its Titanium trim level for a famous name befitting a premium offering with brown paint…even if it isn’t […]

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It’s been a while since our last update on TTAC’s intercontinental project car: a UK-spec 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia finished in Rio Brown.  Since then the Sierra’s gifted creator passed away and more positively, Ford wisely ditched its Titanium trim level for a famous name befitting a premium offering with brown paint…even if it isn’t Ghia.

Jealous much of TTAC’s sweet ride, FoMoCo?  

1

We ended our last story with the Sierra’s hood cable unable to release the “bonnet”. Which was fixed one year ago this week: reaching between the front fascia and the radiator to grab the release lever and pop it free.  From there, two zip ties eliminated the slack in the cable and it’s been fine ever since.  A surprisingly easy fix!

1_1

Any hope of getting Citizen Sierra nice and legal started with its horrible exhaust leak, probably stemming from the Nürburgring workout given by Capt. Mike at said famous race track.

I grabbed a 2.3L Mustang manifold gasket, pulled the cast iron lump off and realized that the 2.0L Pinto motor has a unique cylinder head.  With no matching gasket in sight, I swapped my unopened part for Mr. Gasket’s sheet of “make your own” gasket paper.  In less time than it took to watch a football game, I crafted a set of four gaskets. About a week before Christmas 2012, I finished the Sierra’s exhaust. Ironically, that was also the day I confronted my inner and outer demons.

Making a concerted effort to change my attitude/personality that evening, the Sierra–in some twisted way–became my catalyst for that change. So it became that Citizen Sierra joined my personal quest for continuous improvement.

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Considering the number of cars in the Mehta garage, a unique key chain was needed.  I found these vintage units (modeled after a promotional button Ford made in 1982) on eBay in the US, and they were mine in a couple of days. Nice.

1_3

Shameless Plug: in February I scored specialty car insurance, quite affordable thanks to the extraordinary customer service at the National Corvette Museum. With proof of fiduciary responsility in hand, I motored out of the warehouse for a state inspection, a simple task with any 25+ year old car in Texas!  The ride there was surprisingly serene, and it easily passed the test.

With the Sierra legal (enough) to begin the path to citizenship, I hit another roadblock: the head lights and brake lights went berserk.  I tried fixing them: repairing frayed wiring, replacing bulbs, a new brake pedal switch, a multifunction switch from a Merkur, all to no avail.  By mid March I was 100% frustrated: so I quickly reassembled my work and drove to a friend’s shop. And a little over three months later…

2

Sadly that friend had even more existential concerns than myself: after his cell phone was disconnected, I went to claim my Sierra, in whatever condition it may sit.  Mercifully he fixed it well, charged next to nothing and I learned a lesson…or three.

Soon after I took a few hours off work to get the Sierra titled. Except not: the county wasn’t pleased with the paperwork.  The Sierra is pictured here (above) in July at the Houston Police Department’s Auto Theft division, where they quickly processed/approved Form 68-A: a crucial part to obtaining citizenship in Texas.  While this was one of the creepiest, covert operations I’ve seen (they don’t even let you inside) the people were certainly pleasant enough.

2_1

Victory!  Sort of: between an international title that wasn’t signed by Capt. Mike and two ownership changes between here and the UK, I needed a bonded title to get legal.  My friends in the classic car trade recommended a local title company. In less than a week, they made the impossible happen.  While I enjoy working instead of waiting in lines, there was a singular downside. Their handiwork set me back a painful $750.

3

Legal issues cleared, the work began: first the horrible radio. While the factory unit supposedly picked up FM, it seemed to miss the land of BBC radio. Then the tape deck broke, taking away my MP3 interface!  I grabbed the same (Blaupunkt) radio from a 1980s USA Audi in hopes it would work. No dice.

Then I bought a stunning vintage, NOS, perfect DENON cassette deck, which wasn’t amplified and therefore useless to the Sierra. Stereo #4, a “so cheap its worth a shot” NOS Pyramid deck with a graphic equalizer did work, but made the original speakers crackle and pop like that “snappy” breakfast cereal.  $50 later on eBay and I was installing new 4” Kenwood coaxial speakers into a very chocolatey cabin.  The rears were a snap, but the fronts were…well you see the photo.

3_1

While the craptastic Pyramid was an improvement, it was still a horrible radio.  Back to eBay, and this Hitachi tape deck with an AUX jack and an ingenious spring-loaded pull out mechanism (no grab handle) was mine for a fair price.  Lesson learned: vintage Kenwood/Alpine audio fanbois pay waaaay too much for cassette decks!

4

After a few more miles of weekend cruises and plans for a short trip to judge a LeMons race, the Sierra developed some annoying problems. A ripped spark plug boot (that I destroyed during inspection/removal) needed attention, but ordering tune up parts for a Sierra (i.e. not of the GMC variety) at the parts store is cumbersome. And the word “Merkur” doesn’t help, either. Luckily an Autozone cut-to-fit kit (USA made!) combined with new Motorcraft plugs worked perfectly. A nice repair for less than $25.   4_1

The exhaust had problems at the rear, too.  $150 later and a local shop replaced the crusty rear resonator and it looks factory. Surprisingly, the new assembly is louder than the original, probably because it isn’t full of rust flakes.

4_2

Then a front-end alignment: I’m stunned at the number of shops that refuse to work on a car if the alignment specs aren’t in their machine.  I had the Ford factory shop manual (purchased from a UK re-seller of discarded library books) with the specs in hand, but nobody would play…until I found a Meineke with the balls to read books, not just computers.

4_3

Then tires: these Romanian-made Vikings were not only a poor tribute to Nordic heritage, they were past it thanks to the (mis) alignment. Since the usual places don’t stock a 165/80/13 tire, I found a vendor in California selling China’s finest speed rated radials for $34 a pop. Apparently this is a common tire size for Honda Accords from the same era, so I got lucky!

5The Sierra’s fan clutch puked its fluid at the LeMons race in late September, making it hurl coolant as I extorted bribes from cheaty racers.  Determined to find a local replacement, I realized European Ford clutches use the same removal tool as BMWs.  I was lucky to find a brilliant night manager at the local O’Reilly’s, as he hammered away at his computer to find a ($100) clutch from an E30 that dropped right in. Thirty minutes later, the Sierra was running cooler than Jonathan Goldsmith in a booth fulla hot women.

5_1

Last month I added this custom-made LeMons bribe to the Sierra’s hatch.  One race team had a talented graphic company in tow, and it’s certainly good to be a corrupt judge with a penchant for exotic machines ending in “RI”!

6

Our man in Czechoslovakia, Mr.  Vojta Dobeš befriended me shortly after my initial purchase.  Turns out he grew up with Fords from the 1970s and 1980s, so his love of Sierras is strong. Even better, his ability to find valuable parts is even stronger.  I literally bounced off the walls when his box of Ford goodies arrived. We are very lucky to have this guy in our ranks.

7

As alluded to in last week’s Piston Slap, I ran into problems while installing these parts.  Bad grounds, blown fuses, dirty connections and a truckload of time with wiring diagrams to make it all work: but the result is brilliant. Now I have a well-mannered RWD hatchback with enough head lamps to bake your legs on an autumn winter morning. Yes, really.

The plan was to put the finished Sierra* back in the warehouse…but screw that!  I’ll keep TTAC’s project car in my garage until summer rears its ugly head (no A/C) once more. Citizen Sierra is now, after all, a big part of my past, present and future.

And now you know The Truth About TTAC’s Ford Sierra. I hope you have a fantastic week.

*NOTE: the Sierra is currently running European style plates with the correct license number for the State of Texas.  This, along with keeping the real plates in the spare tire well, is a temporary measure until I figure out how to install a Texas plate without modifying the body or the plate itself.  More to come.

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Junkyard Find: 1974 Ford Pinto http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1974-ford-pinto/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/junkyard-find-1974-ford-pinto/#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2012 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=432385 There was a time, let’s say in the late 1980s, when the quantity of Pintos in junkyards went from “glut” to “famine,” as if a switch was flipped and all the Pintos just disappeared. The same thing happened with the early Hyundai Excel, too, only they lived, died, and got scrapped within a five-year period […]

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There was a time, let’s say in the late 1980s, when the quantity of Pintos in junkyards went from “glut” to “famine,” as if a switch was flipped and all the Pintos just disappeared. The same thing happened with the early Hyundai Excel, too, only they lived, died, and got scrapped within a five-year period versus the 10-to-15-year period for the Pinto. Still, every so often I find a lone Pinto that hung on an extra couple of decades before getting junked. For example, this tan ’74 that showed up in a Denver self-service yard last month.
This car has all the hallmarks of long-term outdoor storage in Colorado, including completely obliterated upholstery and much-faded paint.
It appears to have been damaged and then Bondo’d in its early career.
This engine family had an exceptionally long run, making it into the 21st century.
In spite of all the legends about “exploding Pintos,” these cars really didn’t suffer from fuel tank fires much more often than other rear-drive vehicles with the gas tank between the rear axle and the bumper (i.e., just about every single vehicle sold by Detroit at the time). The problem was the infamous “Ford Pinto Memo,” which resulted in Ford taking a couple of big public-relations black eyes by appearing not to care about Pinto passengers getting burned to a crisp. Next thing you know, everybody knows someone who knows someone who died in a Pinto explosion.
I spent a lot of my teen years riding in Pintos, this being one of the most popular hand-me-down cars given to my peers by cheapskate parents in the early 1980s, and at least I can say it was better than the wretched Chevy Vega.

15 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 01 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 02 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 03 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 04 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 05 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 06 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 07 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 08 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 09 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 10 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 11 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 12 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 13 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden 14 - 1974 Ford Pinto In Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Phillip 'KABOOM' Greden pinto Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Down On the 1993 Hayward Street: Ripped-n-Stripped Victims http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/down-on-the-1993-hayward-street-ripped-n-stripped-victims/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/down-on-the-1993-hayward-street-ripped-n-stripped-victims/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2011 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410698 When scanning old negatives for the most recent installment of the Impala Hell Project series, I found these Ansco Pix Panorama camera shots that I took in gritty, grimy, industrial Hayward, California in 1993. They didn’t add anything to the Impala Hell Project story, so I’m sharing them in a separate post. The Fish Driver […]

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When scanning old negatives for the most recent installment of the Impala Hell Project series, I found these Ansco Pix Panorama camera shots that I took in gritty, grimy, industrial Hayward, California in 1993. They didn’t add anything to the Impala Hell Project story, so I’m sharing them in a separate post.
The Fish Driver Warehouse was not far from the site of the now-defunct Hayward Pick Your Part, a yard I’d been visiting since the mid-1980s, and the stretch of West Winton Avenue right outside the junkyard gates was a popular spot to yank parts off stolen and/or unwanted vehicles. Nowadays, with scrap metal prices so high, you wouldn’t see a scene like this.
A de-fendered first-gen RX-7 parked in front of a scissors-jack-suspended Pinto wagon. One thing hasn’t changed: old beater RX-7s still aren’t worth much.
I took this shot through the fence of the Pick Your Part holding area. Look, it’s a Rover P5! Anybody want to take a shot at identifying the ancient truck in the foreground and the sedan in the background?

93_Hayward_Abandoned_Cars-4 93_Hayward_Abandoned_Cars-1 93_Hayward_Abandoned_Cars-2 93_Hayward_Abandoned_Cars-3 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Curbside Classic: Ford’s Deadly Sin#1 – 1975 Mustang Cobra II http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/curbside-classic-fords-deadly-sin1-1975-mustang-cobra-ii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/curbside-classic-fords-deadly-sin1-1975-mustang-cobra-ii/#comments Thu, 01 Apr 2010 15:01:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=351000 Powered By Ford. There’s something special about those words, something iconic, something that evokes nightmares of an uniquely American scope, from our first family cross-country trips in a 1954 Ford that perpetually overheated and stalled from vapor lock (when it actually started) to the last one, Mother’s craptastic 1981 Escort (replaced by a Civic)  that […]

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Powered By Ford. There’s something special about those words, something iconic, something that evokes nightmares of an uniquely American scope, from our first family cross-country trips in a 1954 Ford that perpetually overheated and stalled from vapor lock (when it actually started) to the last one, Mother’s craptastic 1981 Escort (replaced by a Civic)  that could barely do seventy wheezing unsteadily along the rain-soaked I-70 straight. Powered by Ford. It’s the peeling logo hastily slapped onto the valve covers of this five-liter Mustang II, but you won’t need to raise the hood to understand what it means. The first time this pathetic lump of an engine tries to suck air through its tiny two-barrel carburetor and wheezes its feeble exhaust through soda-straw sized tailpipes, it will be more than crystal clear.

My apologies to Jack Baruth (and it’s not the first time I’ve stolen some of his words). But his stirring words of worship at the altar of Ford compels me to release the anti-Ford held safely thus far in my digital files, and unleash its full 122 horsepower V8 fury upon his Mustang love poem.  Nature seeks a balance, and for every heroic blue oval exploit at Le Mans in 1967 and Topanga Canyon Road in 2010, there is a 1971 LTD or this 1975 Mustang Cobra II to offset the glory. We wouldn’t want to be accused of being Ford fan-boys at TTAC, now would we?

The Mustang II was a truly wretched car. Obviously, it couldn’t have been much worse than its predecessor, that hideously oversized barge of a draft-horse car, the ’71-’73 ‘Stang. Or could it? One wants desperately to give Lee Iacocca credit for trying to do the right thing: dramatically downsize the Mustang to make it competitive with the Euro style “super-coupes” that were the hot thing after the pony car market collapsed under the weight of its wretched excess.

So the target competition for the Mustang II were the Toyota Celica, Opel Manta, and Ford’s own European import, the Capri (sold by Mercury). Therein lies the sum and substance of Ford’s enormous mistake with the Mustang II, the same one that GM and Ford repeated endlessly until they were finally pounded into submission. Instead of just building the highly competent Capri as the Mustang II, or in the case of GM, the Manta/Opel 1900, in their US factories, they threw themselves repeatedly on the sword of hubris: we can do it better in Detroit, even small sporty and economy cars, something the Europeans had been building and perfecting for decades.

GM’s Vega was the first to go down this path, if we generously give the Corvair a pass. The Opel 1900/Manta was a delightful-handling and well designed car, and with a tiny fraction of the money wasted on the Vega’s development, it could have been made truly superb. Ford’s Pinto was only marginally better than the Vega because it didn’t blow up or rust quite so instantaneously, but its silly low, short and wide and cramped body were retrograde from the perfectly practical English Ford Cortina that donated much of its guts for it.

That was 1971. That was also the year Mercury started selling the Capri here. Surprisingly, or not, it became a genuine hit, and at its peak, was the number two selling import in the land after the VW Beetle. Reviews praised it: (R/T) “a very attractive sporting car. It’s solid as a Mercedes, still compact and light in the context of 1974 barrier busters, fast, reasonably economical of fuel, precise-handling, and quick-stopping: its engine and drivetrain are both sporty and refined.” Apparently not good enough for Lido; he had wrought a true miracle turning the Falcon into the original Mustang, so why not do the same thing with the Pinto? Why not indeed! Unlike lightening, hubris always strikes after someone’s first success, deserved or not.

A reworked front end and some new longer rear springs were designed to quiet down the Pinto’s notorious trashy interior noise levels and general structural inefficiencies ( the whole car rattles and rustles like a burlap bag full of tin cups. Self destruction seems only moments away. C/D 1971) . Lee wanted the Mustang II to have a touch of luxury to it, especially in the padded-top Ghia series; a sort of mini-T Bird. So, yes, let’s put lots of cushy rubber and soft springs in the suspension to give it a nice ride on the freeway.

But somehow, all that sound deadening and whatever else the Ford boys did to transform the Pinto into the Mustang II must have weighed a lot; well, lead is a terrific sound barrier. The unfortunate result was that the Mustang II weighed more than the original Mustang, despite the fact that its wheelbase was now a full foot shorter and it sported a four cylinder engine. But Powered By Ford was stamped or glued to the new 2.3 liter OHC four, a noisy and thrashy lump that soldiered on for decades. Generating all of eighty-eight horsepower, Ford’s long investment in racing engines was now really paying off.

If the four wasn’t quite recreating the Le Mans Mulsanne straight experience adequately, the Cologne V6 was the only option for more go in 1974, the II’s first year. C/D tested the new Mach 1 version with the 105 hp 2.8 six, and noted right off the bat that it was saddled with too much weight: “Our test car weighed over 3100 lbs…(the V-6 Capri we tested in 1972 weighed slightly under 2400 lbs)…the (Mustang’s) engine is more notable for its smoothness than any feel of power”. The quarter mile took over eighteen seconds (@74 mph), and zero to sixty took over twelve seconds. Ouch. But it probably had a nicer ride than the Capri. Oh, did it ever:

As the Mustang II Mach I (with the optional “competition” suspension) approaches its cornering limits, the front end transmits the fact that it definitely is plowing…enthusiasts are going to be disappointed..excessive body lean was present in all handling tests…” The Mustang II plowed and handled like crap with the light four and little German V6 under the hood, so it doesn’t take much of an imagination to speculate what it handled like when Ford finally shoehorned the 302 V8 into it for 1975, for all the wrong reasons. And the fact that it was still riding on 13″ wheels didn’t help any either.

Before we get on to the Cobra II, let’s note that C/D felt that the new four speed transmission that was developed in the US specifically for it was “not as smooth shifting as the current Pinto 4-speed” (sourced from Europe). And the fact that it was given the Pinto’s brakes without change wasn’t too inspiring either: “difficult to maintain precise directional stability during hard stops”. C/D sums the Mach1 up this way: “its acceleration and performance don’t match expectations. Much of that is due to weight and some to emission standards, but neither of these factors justify the car’s flaccid handling”.

Given that Ford had to do some fairly extensive work on the Mustang II’s front end to accommodate the V8 implant, it’s obvious that they never planned on that outcome. And given that the 302 put out a mere 122 hp in 1975, one wonders why go to all the trouble, given the dramatic increase in front end weight it caused. Ford should have spent money on its turbo-four program a few years earlier. Or found a way to federalize the DOHC and fuel injection engines it used in Europe. But the American legacy of Ford was built around V8s, and what’s a Mustang without one: Powered By (genuine US) Ford.

Now we can finally speak our vile words about the actual Cobra II. Please note that this is the very first automobile to carry that august name since the original. As thus, it was one of the most disastrous abuses of destroying equity in a name that was a true legend.  That it was put on such a ridiculous pretender of a car, a Pinto (barely) in disguise, is almost mind boggling. Anything  positive anyone can say about the Mustang II program is instantly offset by this cruel joke made by Lido and his not-so Whiz Kids. And it only got worse with the King Cobra version a couple years later. The seventies really were the pits, US-built automobile wise anyway, and the Mustang II was the little pebble lodged at the bottom of the pit.

It turned out that real V8 performance in an excellently handling coupe was still in demand, and very much available, in the form of the Camaro Z-28. And at a price that put the Mustang II Mach I and Cobra II to infinite shame. In the very same issue of C/D is a test of the 1973 Camaro Z-28 with the slightly civilized but still very satisfying 350 V8 that churned out 245 hp, exactly double (plus one) of the Mustang’s V8. And the Z 28 cracked off the dash to sixty in 6.7 seconds, almost exactly one half of the Mustang Mach I’s time. And ran a 15 second quarter at 95 mph. And handled and steered most properly indeed.

C/D summed it up the Z28 this way: “Because few cars at any price offer the refinement in going, stopping, and turning abilities. And that refinement is housed in one of the most handsome forms ever to roll out of Detroit. But the real clincher is price: the latest Z-28 is a blue chip investment.”

Here’s the shocker: the Z-28, equipped with the potent V8 and four speed, stickered at $4066 ($19k adjusted). The 1975 Mustang II Mach I with the V6 listed at $4188; how much more the Cobra II package and the V8 cost is a guess. Half the horsepower, twice as long to sixty, miserable handling, in a ridiculous and mal-proportioned body with a yard too much front overhang. No wonder the Camaro rated a “GM’s Greatest Hits” designation at CC (here’s the full gushing writeup), and this Mustang II earns Ford’s first Deadly Sin. Powered By Ford.

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