The Ford Pinto Rides Again – Wall Street Journal
In 2006, I was hunting on eBay for a Ford Mustang when I came across a 1977 Pinto with shag carpets and orange/brown plaid seats. Both my parents drove Pintos when I was young, so I practically grew up in the back of one, like millions of other kids. I showed the car to my wife and she said, “That’s the ugliest car I’ve ever seen!” I said, “Nah, it’s beautiful.” I ended up buying one a year later for $4,500.
In 2011, I organized a drive for Pinto owners I called the Pinto Stampede. It went from Denver to the Ford Nationals—the largest all-Ford car show in the world—in Carlisle, Pa. The drive celebrated the Pinto’s 40th anniversary. I was amazed at how many owners showed up. There were 70 cars, the owners from California, Minnesota, Texas, even Canada.
When you’re driving a Pinto, there’s no road rage. No one cuts you off or yells at you, the way people do where I live. People want to tell you their stories. Ford made nearly 3.2 million of these cars from model year 1971 to 1980.
As most people know, the Pinto had some bad times, regarding exploding gas tanks. People will say what they want. But I can say this: I have climbed through hundreds of these cars in junkyards all over the place, looking for parts. And I have yet to discover any burn marks on any of them.
I still own my 1977 Pinto, and I modified it with 1970 Mustang Boss 302 parts. I also bought my wife a 1976 Pinto, for $5,000. She loves it, and I had a hand bag made for her to match her plaid seats. My car is heavily modified, and hers had the factory recall work done, so the gas tank thing is a nonissue. As far as collector cars go, you could buy a Pinto for every day of the week for the money you’d spend on a mint-condition Mustang.
On June 1, our group will kick off another Pinto Stampede, celebrating the car’s 45th anniversary. These cars spark so many memories. And we’re keeping those memories rolling.