1974 Ford Pinto Wagon from North America - Comments

1st Feb 2003, 00:22

> There was ONE highly sensationalized case.

You somehow managed to miss the most sensational part of the story. Ford knew the car had a lethal design flaw. They calculated how much it would cost to recall the car. Then they calculated how much it would cost to let the occasional customer burn to death, and have their family sue. It was cheaper to let people die, so Ford pretended nothing was wrong with the car.

31st Dec 2003, 12:14

It is painfully apparent that the writer of the preceding comment harbors a deep bias against American cars and Fords in particular...perhaps, as an infant, he/she was frightened by an Edsel.

The low estimation seems to extend to the American car buying public, who, in the writer's opinion, continued to mindlessly buy Pintos (and later on, Explorers) despite their "inferiority", out of some "buy-American" hysteria, not because they met their needs and were competitively priced. The fact remains that the Pinto was available for 10 years and had respectable sales right through the final year, when it was replaced by the Escort, which has continued more than twice as long as the Pinto. Had the Pinto been as inferior as the writer alleges, it would never have lasted as long as it did. It's very easy to look back on it now, more than 20 years after it went out of production, and call it "archaic" and "dinosaur", but by the standards of the time (1970's) it was at least competitive with other cars in it's price class, both American and foreign, and considerably more durable than a lot of imported cars.

BTW, those "foreign cars" which the writer alleges were all "superior in every way" to the Pinto? Does that include such classics as the Austin Marina, the VW 411, the Datsun F10, the Fiat 128, the Subaru 360, the Renault R12? Are we to believe that the Pinto outlasted and outsold those models (plus many others that came and went) solely because of "buy-American" sentiment?

Finally, if one considers a 5 bearing camshaft to be superior to a 3 bearing one, I would point out that the two engines originally available in the Pinto at the time of it's introduction in 1971, a 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter, were British and German designed and built, respectively. So much for the "superiority" of foreign engineering!

24th May 2004, 21:22

Look guys my brother owned one of these pieces. I got the chance to drive it. Sure it gets up and goes, but getting into high speeds it gets me really nervous. It's a little piece and deserves to be gotten rid of. Oh and yes they do explode.

10th Feb 2005, 07:08

A 1994 Rutger's Law review study found that out of 10 years of production and a couple million Pintos made, only 27 known fires have happened. The record is about the same as any other car of it's day, and not much worse than modern cars (check on Honda CRVs right now...). The Mother Jones Magazine article that has spread the Pinto myth has used some decietful practices that few have checked up on. the film they show that "proves" the case is from a university study on what happens in a car fire, and was acrtually started with an incendiary device (much like the pickup truck in the Dateline" episode on NBC). It also shows the Pinto being hit by a Chevy, which Ford woudn't have used were it a "secret Ford video tape."

The Pinto actually was a pretty decent car for it's day. Yes, I've owned and even raced a couple of them. I've also had Hondas, Mazdas, Porsches and BMWs. I've also had numerous other cars of the early '70s from Japanese and European makers, and can directly compare them. Yes, they are pretty crude compared to modern cars, but so are even luxury cars from that era. They still make great cars to build hot rods and race cars from.

25th Apr 2006, 15:09

And wasn't it the Pinto Hatchback that caused all these problems and not the Wagon? My parents owned a wagon a piece, and never had any problems with either. They were good cars (for their time... this was the 1970's, folks).

11th Oct 2006, 17:57

Ford management knew all about the problem, so they made a little cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to fix the problem or just to leave it as it was. You can look at the famous and often mentioned analysis below:


As you can see, Ford management came to a conclusion that it was much cheaper to pay the law suits, medical expenses, certain amounts for pain and suffering, in a total amount of $49.5 million. Comparing it with $137 million for fixing the tank, it is absolutely logical they decided not to! Right?

16th Jan 2007, 14:50

<< The pinto was one of the most fuel efficient, reliable, and well built cars of their time>>

Yeah, I'm sure all those families whose members were burned alive simply because they owned a Ford Pinto totally agree.

And why aren't there any Pintos on the road now? I see a TON of imports from the same era driving around.

26th May 2007, 14:12

I had a 1974 Pinto wagon. I often get nostalgic for it, and if I could find one you bet I'd risk a fiery, horrible death and buy it. I never had any problems with it. It didn't blow up, it didn't roll over, and it didn't infect me with a deadly virus either. In fact the only other car I've had that pleased me as much was my wife's 1984 Honda Accord.

The Pinto wagon was just a nice, cheap, reliable car that took me through college in the frozen north and never complained (Potsdam, NY). I wonder if anyone out there has actual data comparing fatalities by make or model from that era. I'd love to put the old 'napalm bomb on wheels' story to rest.

They did rust out up north - but so did every other car. Road salt.

Finally, on a tragic note - my older brother died in a car crash 2 years ago - he was driving one of those "superior" European cars - an Audi. The investigators estimated he was doing about 40 to 45 mph when he went into a ditch and struck a tree. We didn't sue the car company for not designing a car impervious to every conceivable accident.

25th Jul 2007, 13:43

Ford Pintos were just as safe as any other car of the day. The wagons never were recalled, only the smaller cars. Car companies make decisions like this on every car made - face it- many consumers even now would take a deduct for safety items if they could. Until they wreck that is.

I find that the people who owned Pintos loved them, and people who never even sat in one hate them, because of what they read or heard second hand.

6th Mar 2009, 00:14

My first new car was a '76 Pinto Pony that I bought in December '75. I beat that car daily for over a year. By beat I mean severely abused. The Pony had the 3:1 rear end ratio for better MPG and 4spd. It got 23mpg in town and 36mpg on the highway. This was actual real world mileage. At 13k miles it was on it's 3rd set of rear tires due to doing burnouts. No issues, other than window crank handles breaking. Traded it in for a Volare wagon in '77. I bought 3 Pintos after that one. '73 wagon 4spd, '72 wagon auto, '73 coupe auto. The 2.0 engines were hard on camshafts, but otherwise indestructible. The 2.3 had no real weakness that I recall. The 4spd cars were much more fun.