The U.S. has always desired to compete with overseas’ automakers small cars, but hasn’t always been successful. Enter the Ford Pinto, a car that today is more synonymous with flammable construction than being a Beetle beater. The 1977 model featured on eBay this week is packed with options, and has the added rarity of being a fully-loaded station wagon without any rust. Find it here on eBay with the high bid still below $5,000.
The Pinto went head-to-head with the Chevy Vega and AMC Gremlin, but used powertrains sourced from European-market Fords for their proven reliability. Designed originally as a two-door sedan and then as a hatchback, the wagon version joined the lineup in 1977, both as the panel van-styled Cruising Wagon and the Country Squire seen here. The Cruising Wagon’s porthole windows and the Country Squire’s faux wood trim distinguish the two, which were sold until 1980.
Unfortunately, the Pinto is most famous for a history marred by controversy. Critics claimed that the lack of reinforcing structure between the rear panel and the gas tank could cause it to move forward in a crash and be punctured by bolts on the differential. A rear-end collision that caused the occupants of a Pinto to be badly burned after the fuel tank ruptured sparked an investigation into the design of the car, and had a devastating impact on Pinto sales.
The Pinto Country Squire featured here has only 69,000 miles and still wears its original orange paint and wood trim. It also retains many other features, including a V6 engine, wire wheels, air conditioning, power steering and power brakes. The interior isn’t nearly as bad as one might expect for a 70s-era economy car, with attractive black vinyl seats, woodgrain dash and a floor-mount shifter. The seller doesn’t include much detail about the condition of the interior, but after leading a gentle existence in the pleasant South Carolina climate, we’re guessing there’s not a whole lot else to say.
With the 2.8L Cologne V6 churning out 98 b.h.p. and a healthy 140 ft. lbs. of torque, the ’77 Pinto definitely offered customers a lot of bang for their buck. This Country Squire is loaded to the gills, but is there more to its mechanical condition than meets the eye? The seller doesn’t elaborate on the car’s service history, other than saying that it retains its original engine and transmission. While it does appear clean and straight, we would want to know a bit more about its health before placing a bid on what many still consider as one of America's worst cars.