Junkyard Find: 1974 Ford Pinto

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1974 ford pinto

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.

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  • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Mar 10, 2012

    Ah, yet another domestic tragedy that informed my youth. My dad had a forest green Pinto for a few years in the '80s. My memories of it revolve around how much of a torture chamber the interior was in the warmer months. The vinyl seats were awful, the whole car was an oven in sunlight, and I burned my hand on the seat belt buckle one summer day. A pregnant deer sacrificed itself one morning to send that car to hell.

    • Moparman426W Moparman426W on Mar 10, 2012

      And your point is? Any car with vinyl seats and no a/c is going to be one hot ride. No?

  • Danwat1234 Danwat1234 on Mar 12, 2012

    Did that Pinto happen to have an overengineered XR2200 muffler bracket?

  • MelanieRichardson GOOD
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