17k Mile Survivor? 1973 Ford Pinto

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Both Ford and Chevrolet got into the subcompact game in 1971. Ford had the Pinto while Chevy had the Vega. Both would get some bad press through their lifespans that saw the Pinto pick up three more years and an additional million units over the Vega. This 1973 Pinto is presented as a survivor-quality automobile with just 17,000 miles – but who bought a Pinto in the 1970s to preserve it for future generations? Said to be quite reliable with a litany of new parts, this Ford is available here on eBay where only one bid of $8,000 has been cast. But that’s not enough to trigger the reserve on a car offered from its original hometown of Southampton, New York.

The Pinto went largely unchanged over its decade in production. The growth of its bumpers fore and aft maybe being the most visible indicator of later Pinto’s versus earlier ones. Cars like the Pinto got a huge lift in sales in 1973 after the OPEC oil embargo drove up gas prices and created long lines at the pump. Most Pinto’s that year were powered by Ford’s 2.0-liter inline-4 which delivered an average of 25 mpg in city/highway driving. Although that doesn’t compare to the mileage of today’s hybrids, that was enough to bring buyers into the showrooms in the mid-1970s.

We suspect this Pinto is a transitional car given the amount of recent work the seller has done. As a result, he/she used it as a daily driver last month and put 1,000 miles on the already low odometer and the car gave no issues or problems. So perhaps it had been sitting up before that. Some of the recent work includes a new heater core, carburetor, water pump, exhaust, tune-up, fuel system flush, fuel pump, battery, brakes, and there’s more. All indicators of a car that was stored for a lengthy period.

The body and paint look quite good with no evidence of any tin worm. The interior is equally nice although the carpeting looks to have faded in some places. But we’re told it drives well and the automatic transmission, which makes the Ford a bit sluggish, shifts as it’s supposed to. And yet the seller says the Pinto has yet to see 18,000 miles. Most 1973 Pinto’s would have passed that number by 1975. So, did someone choose to use this car truly little or is it the nicest 117,000-mile Pinto out there?

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Comments

  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Seeing this Pinto is like taking a step back into time for me. Mine was also a 73, this same dark green (I think it was a “Glow” color). But mine was a hatchback and had the 1.6L 4-speed powertrain and had an oh-so-70’s Avocado interior. It served me well through college and afterwards, despite the rust, which I tackled in a very amateur fashion.

    It’s often hard for us to determine if a car is actually low mileage. But stepping back, given the high number of sales, it is not hard to imagine that a few were not used much (for whatever reason). Here’s an example: the car was bought as a response to the gasoline situation of the day, and when the problem eased, the owner went back to driving their ‘big’ car, and the PInto sat, and sat, and sat….

    Thanks Russ for the writeup, and for not venturing into the trite gas tank discussion.

    Like 55
    • Gary Beard

      I had a ’74 Pinto Squire wagon with dark green metalic paint. 2.3L engine with AC and automatic transmission. l replaced the points with an after market electronic ignition and it ran well. I took it on many trips into Canada and out west. Great car and it served me well. I gave it to my father-in-law and he drove it for many years.

      Like 3
    • Mustang Sally

      I don’t care what anyone says about the Pinto. It was the right car at the right time. Only the 71, 72, and 73 had the little bumpers and the fantastic 2.0 four cylinder which was derived from the Ford Cortina. For me it was the first car I was Legally able to drive in 71. A 4 speed 2.0 model and it was bullet proof. Over 20 years later I purchased many a 2.0 early model Pinto for $50. Just gave it an Italian tune up and you were good to go. The 1.6 engine which was standard had no guts. The later 2.3 engine from 74 on was a slug also. But that little 2.0 was built to beat, and would take all you could dish out. It was a non interference overhead cam engine so if you broke a timing belt, you could just replace the belt and you were good to go. A 10 minute job by the way back when cars were simple. This little gem for sale is a piece of Ford history. Too bad it is not a 4 speed, or I might want to buy it.

      Like 8
      • Stevieg

        I am afraid to ask…what is an Italian tuneup lol?

        Like 1
      • nlpnt

        @Stevieg; An “Italian tuneup” is when you drive it, hard. Redline in every gear you can, every chance you get. Shake the cobwebs out and get everything nice and warmed up.

        Like 4
    • Mike simic

      What are you looking to get for the ford pinto ,? Thanks mike

      Like 2
  2. Adam Steward

    The original owner could have bought it then heard about the exploding gas tank and parked it for the rest of their lives.

    Like 10
    • Big C

      And there it is! Keeping the gas tank tale front and center. Two comments in! Could this be a record?

      Like 35
  3. Howie

    Its been a long time since i have seen a Pinto on the road, i hope it sells. It is missing the cold air intake hose on the air cleaner.

    Like 19
  4. Kerry

    Just look at that lovely green bean! I had forgotten until now that I called these “Pinto beans” as a kid. This is a very well preserved example!!

    Like 15
    • James s Burton

      I wonder if they would like to trade for a motorcycle,I have a few that I would let go,that little 4banger was cheap and easy to build a hit rod out of,

      Like 6
  5. Sheri Buckley

    I had three! I absolutely loved them. If this was a Runabout I might have taken an interest. But would also like it to be a 4 speed. Too bad. Find me a nice Pinto surf wagon (the one with the porthole).

    Like 15
  6. Jeff Pressley

    I thought they was cool looking car I had a friend that had a 73 vega he put a 350 in it called it the flying coffin

    Like 8
  7. Richard Bailey

    If it was to be used as a driver, it should be ascertained to have the retro-fitted gas tank shield.
    It does look nice!

    Like 10
    • nlpnt

      I see a painted gas cap, the vented ones included in the recall were all chrome so they wouldn’t need to be color-matched.

      Like 0
  8. Richard Bailey

    If it were to be used as a driver, it should be ascertained to have the retro-fitted gas tank shield.
    It does look nice!

    Like 7
  9. Danny

    I had a 79 SW .
    I loved that car! The gas tank issue had been resolved by then .
    A lot of people don’t know a lot more people were killed in certain years of Chevy pickups that had the gas tank outside of the frame rails.!

    Like 17
    • Jim

      My cousin in California burned to death in one of those Chevy pickups.

      Like 0
    • Gary Beard

      I had a dark brown 79 Pinto Pony after I gave my 74 Pinto Squire wagon to my Father-in-law. 2.3L Five speed. Nothing fancy but ran great. It was fun to drive and easy on gas.

      Like 0
  10. Robert Levins

    What great looking little cars they were! Of course I was only 9 years old when this Pinto was born but I do remember them. My dad had a dealership on. Ventura Blvd here in Southern California. He got clobbered during the Oil Crisis in 1973-74 and nearly went out of business. EVERYBODY was in a panic and traded their Cadillacs and Lincolns in for PINTOS, Volkswagens, Vegas and ANYTHING that got more than 10 mpg. But I do remember getting to sit on my dad’s lap and push the gas pedal down and he let me steer (a little). Boy, that little 4 cylinder engine sure made a lot of noise before the car started to move. An automatic of course. Thanks for the great article and I hope this car finds a good home.

    Like 11
  11. Robert Levins

    Oh, by the way, my dad had mostly Cadillacs and Lincolns on his car lot in 1973 and I remember him saying that the value of them was 1/2 of the Blue Book wholesale price. Nobody wanted them. We could only get ten gallons of gas at a time and of course we had a brand new 1972 Mercury Colony Park wagon with the 429ci V-8. 10-12 miles per gallon. And – we could only get gas every other day or odd/even license plate number. Pintos and Vegas looked pretty good. Thanks for a great write up!

    Like 15
    • Belford

      I had an identical Pinto with 4-speed, black interior. This car SAVED my life in auto accident (not my fault) on Afton Mountain VA & didn’t catch fire! The car was totaled, but the radio was still playing! & I was almost totaled! Always reliable for college & early teaching days. Would love to have it!

      Like 10
  12. Louis

    I was a mechanic for Ford back in the late ’70s. The Pinto was a great car but got a bad rap and you know who started publishing bad reviews on them. Any car hit hard enough in the rear had the potential to explode. I installed those kits to protect the car from blowing up in a rear end collision. 8 hours a day 5 days a weeks for months. I never heard or seen anyone explode. The Ford dealer where I worked was the biggest one around and sold thousands of them. I never owned one but had the pleasure of working on them. I have not seen any Pintos on the road for years. I would love to own and drive one today. This Pinto brings back a lot of great memories.

    Like 20
    • JustPassinThru

      It does. I got my driver’s license in 1974; and during the late-1970s-early-1980s, Pintos were one of the cheapest operating cars to be had. Many of them were destroyed by rust; those that hadn’t been, would soon be on Northeast Ohio salted roads; but they were there, and they were cheap, and for those of us living on minimum wage, they worked.

      I’m glad I’m not the only person to appreciate the Pinto’s styling. I always thought it was a balanced appearance package – perhaps a bit overdone with the rounded tumblehome on the greenhouse, but generally a good look. Before the bumpers, of course.

      I had a Pinto Squire, also a 1973. Handling was not as sprightly as with my former Super Beetle, but was totally acceptable and then some. The four-speed gearbox was sturdy; and I appreciated, then and would now, the LACK of power accessories. No power steering seals to blow. No power-brake booster to spring a leak into the intake manifold. As simple a car as you could have in that era.

      We could use a car like this today. Unfortuntely, laws prohibit it.

      Like 13
      • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

        @JustPassinThru – What laws?

        Like 0
      • Gary Beard

        Me again. My ’74 Pinto Squire was Z-Barted and there was no rust throughout its life. Being a wagon and heavier on the rear, it drove well in the snow. It had all the accessories including leather steering wheel, luggage rack on the roof and the wind louver on the tail gate which pushed air down on the rear window keeping it clean and cleared in the rain. It got great mileage.

        Like 3
      • JustPassinThru

        @Jesse Mortensen

        Emissions, CAFE and safety laws. The sheer mass of airbags and crash zones, precludes lightweight construction. The SMART car was heavier than a decked-out Pinto.

        Fuel-economy and emissions standards now require automatics (so that processors can accurately control emissions) and shut-downs at stoplights.

        Electric no-feel power-steering is now all-but standard. I know why the electric – it uses little engine power, at least not directly. I don’t know why manual steering is gone, but it is.

        Styling: Drag coefficients are now critical. Which means all cars look alike. Recall how much different the Pinto was from the Vega, and the Dodge Colt from either. Nope, no more differences now…at twenty paces one cannot tell a Honda from a GM product.

        Those readers who feel these new standards are beneficial…that’s fine. We all have different views. But I think the product offerings of today show that we’ve lost something.

        Like 7
    • Eric Lloyd

      As another long time dealer tech who lived those times I always though the longer filler neck spout was a major part that made them safer. I also had a 71 two liter 4 sp that I beat the heck out of.

      Like 8
      • Steve

        I had two back in the day that got that recall. My Son is a Ford tech and man they get some crazy tough recalls these days. One is changing out a weak bolt. You’ve got to pull the dif because you can’t get to it any other way. He says it takes a good half day and you get something like two hours for it.

        Like 7
    • Gary

      Same here worked at a lincoln-mercury dealership and they had the Bobcat which was same car, installed many kits.They were great little cars. In 1974 my Roadrunner was traded in on a Pinto M.P.G which was an edition that came out that was supposed to get better mpg.

      Like 6
    • Radio Rick

      I worked at factory owned service center for ARA Dallas. Bringing a pinto 80 model to the shop for AC rear end locked up had no grease. Also had a escort first year run gas tank and carburetor was full of something like vaseline. That car made it back to the dealer.

      Like 0
  13. Steve

    If this beauty was a stick I’d be bidding. Neat car.

    Like 8
  14. Dave

    This is a beautiful early Pinto. It would definately complete any “Stranger Things” themed event too. I can almost see Joyce and Sheriff Hopper posing with this at an event. In any case – good looking time capsule.

    Like 5
  15. DON

    Pinto ads at the time were always comparing it to the Model T ; basic , reliable and easy to work on . I think they accomplished that .

    Like 12
  16. 64 Bonneville

    The Pinto filled a niche in the market at the time. I always made money selling them. Would like to have one or a bobcat Mercury, especially a wagon model. could sleep in back when I go fishing. Have looked at many, concours condition will top out around 10-12 grand, depending on options. a good size for in town driving, and pretty comfortable on a long trip, too.

    Like 7
    • Belford

      Having sold Pintos, you must know of cheaper ones 4sale. As long as it reliably runs, condition no problem. Motoring around Lake with my dog in my Pinto is my fun objective.

      Like 6
    • Double E

      I owned every year of the Pinto my first one gad 375,000 miles on it! The others I drove em beat them up and enjoyed every one! Great little car

      Like 4
      • Bruce

        375,000 miles, Really ?

        Like 1
  17. Dr Ron

    This is a great car if the reserve is reasonable.
    I’d get into the bidding but I’m holding out for a ‘72 small bumper, 4 speed car.
    What really makes this car very special is the 2000cc Cologne engine.
    While the 2300cc Lima engine was a good enough engine to stay in production for more twenty years, the 2000cc was the granddaddy of the 2300 and was designed in Germany for high speed Autobahn duty. One of its best attributes is the very high nickel content in the iron block which kept wear to a minimum.
    We were getting 200 plus dynamometer horsepower out of the 2000 engines with Esslinger Engineering internal components and side draft carburetors. Those engines went into Formula Ford cars and I snuck a couple into a Karmann Ghia and Bay Window VW Bus…
    The Formula Ford engines may still be floating around the desert Southwest as I believe those engines went into cars destined for Phoenix AZ.
    The rarest of all Pintos I’ve desired over the years was the Grabber Blue ‘72 cars that were built in very limited numbers.
    I’ve had difficulty over the years even finding a Pinto color chart with Grabber Blue but I’ve seen two over the last twenty years and remember McAnary Ford in Gary Indiana having two new ones on their lot when I took my ‘70 Mach 1 in for service.

    Like 8
    • Kimberlee Lee

      My Pinto Station wagon was a 72, with the 2.0 L and 4 speed manual. I parked it running at 325,000 on it. I drove it from the time I was 17 until I was 33. It went through exhaust manifolds that always cracked in the same place. It came with the factory ac so it had a bigger radiator and a 6 blade fan. I got the car with 81,000 miles on it. Front seals were blown making her an oil slinging b word. She had some long legs and I drove her 120 mph on two occasions. Blew my mind how it just hunkered down and held the road. Timing belts were the other issue and when it was about time for a new one, nobody else could get her started but me. Lol Sadly, it met the front of a parked blazer. From around 70 mph in 130 feet, facing the opposite direction. (I wasnt driving) That blazer stopped us from rolling. Drivers door could be sat on, but the window behind it was intact, and we drove it home. It served me well. And I really want to find one like mine. Maybe someday…

      Like 1
  18. Big C

    So, with the new “report comment” feature? Do unwanted/unloved comments go into the BF memory hole? Asking for a fiend.

    Like 1
    • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

      @Big C – Only if they break the rules.

      Like 2
  19. Belford

    How much is reserve for Pinto?

    Like 1
  20. Robert Davis

    could also be 117000k ?

    Like 1
  21. Matthew Dyer

    Wow, it has a wrist breaker on the steering wheel too!

    Like 1
  22. Stevieg

    I love these cars, this one looks exceptional! I like the fact that it has a trunk instead of a hatchback.

    Like 3
  23. Drifty

    Home from Vietnam in 71 and looking for an affordable new car. My wife and I bought a new 71 Pinto Runabout, 4 Speed, slotted mags, dark green and green interior. It came with a repair manual with pictures from the factory in addition to the owners manual. Back seat folded down for nice additional space. Hatch had a 71 year only chrome strips. Over a 100,000 miles of carefree driving with regular maintenance. I added an exhaust system from an Austin Healy that made the 2.0 sound good. Easy to wash and wax.

    Like 6
  24. Belford

    Thank you for your service.
    My dark green ’74 Pinto logged ~250K miles, before someone ran me off a mountain. Never had mechanical issues.

    Like 2
  25. Robt

    Needs a 4spd.
    A college roommate had an early 70’s with an automatic. Was always amazed he’d lend me his car. Great car, but what a slug.

    Like 0
  26. Skip

    I had a 72, redish orange Pinto, with an auto trans. Loved that car, couldn’t blow it up, lol. I was crazy wild back then, seventies were great, anyone that is as old as I can relate.
    When Kiss was on tour, they came to our town, Jackson Michigan. Had the concert in our local roller skating rink. We made sure too leave early so we could get right up front, we were paked in like sardines, lol what a great concert!!!
    My Pinto was a hatchback and I would sleep in the back, seeing I was booted out by my alcoholic step Dad at 15, had plenty of room. Was partying pretty hard one night and was turning left on a country back rd. but I turned about a 50 feet short and went down in a deep ditch and got stuck, and you betcha I crawled in the back and went too sleep, lol. The grass/weeds were about 3 feet tall, and there was a huge field stone that somehow I missed. Had a friend pull me out the next morning with his moms barley running green Ford LTD, we called it the flamoco ford lol. As he was pulling me out I had the drivers door open cause I had to steer the car ya know. Remember the huge fieldstone I mentioned, the drivers door hit it and bent it until it was against the front fender, I mean straightened right out LMAO!! When Jim got out I told him I was hollering to tell him to stop, his response was he was listening to music and couldn’t hear me LOL. Took a 2×4, placed at the bottom between the bottom of the door and sill and kept slaming it to the point it would barly latch, yep fixed it LOL Went in the Army in 75, came home on leave and drove it from Michigan to Fort Benning Georgia and back, ran like a top. Ended up selling it, I really wished I still had it, but I have the memories, man we had fun back then, long live the seventies and the Pintos.

    Like 8
    • Gary

      Skip, You just had me reliving the wild seventies again. Had the same thing happen in my 64 chevy. I would take the chevy out when I knew it was going to be a wild night. I would park my roadrunner on those nights. Had a friend with me and down a ditch we went. Had a few more beverages then walked backed to party we had left and got assistance to pull 64 out of ditch.

      Like 0
  27. PRA4SNW

    Made it to $8,988. Reserve Not Met.

    Like 0
    • Belford

      What was $reserve?

      Like 0
  28. Yblocker

    A lot of discussion about the 4cyl’s, but the later Pintos became available with the 2.8L V6 used in the Capri. They would scoot.

    Like 0
    • Richard Lee Bailey

      I had a ’77 Mustang II with the 2.8 liter Cologne V-6. It burned oil from the time it was new, and got terrible gas mileage.

      Like 1
      • Gary

        No kidding, they were an oil leaking, oil burning, loud engine. They had solid lifters and even after they were adjusted they were clacking. I had a 1974 Mustang II and unfortunately had to drive it for several years.

        Like 0
      • Yblocker

        Hmm, guess you got a bad one, that motor lived a long successful life

        Like 2
  29. Richard Lee Bailey

    Yes, I had the base model coupe, and the body had terrible rattles, and had started to rust when I traded it in in 1981. It was an awful car.

    Like 1
  30. Gregory P Andonian

    We had a 1974 blue one, the year that they were exploding when rear ended!! Hatch back with the full window in the rear. My dad bought for my brother from a guy at work, was a lease turn in at Ford where he work. Ended up as my first car. By then, it had glas belt and steel belt tires. The automatic you had to go from drive to first, up to second, down to first, up to second then drive for it to go. One piston was making a noise, asked my brother and he said it was kicking against the cylinder. The electrical? It would stop the car. Dead of winter. Car dies in the middle of the intersection. Had to go jiggle the wires a few times and try and start the car. Never knew when it would happen. Doors, rusted thru at the bottom so you couldn’t get locked out. Floor boards, well🙀. First day I had it and drove to school…what’s that? My car! That’s a car???!! My old man didn’t make the big money. All I had to do was have a job and I had a car!!! So what, if it looked like💩 and ran like💩 I had a job and I had a car and it was party time. Got sort of rear ended. Cat lasted about a year. But it was my first, even though it was a hunk of junk. First car is first car.

    Like 1
  31. tony

    my first car was a red ’71 1600cc 4-speed handed down from my dad in ’74, when I got my license. he worked in the Metuchen NJ plant where it was made, and he walked it through the assembly line, telling his buddies in the paint station to give it a few extra coats! I juiced up the sound system with a Sony cassette deck and Jensen bi-axial speakers on the rear deck. the car saw me through high school, college, my first love, grad school and marriage, along with many trips up and down I-95 between Orlando and DC. more than 100k miles when I donated it to a church charity and still running! the wife is gone but boy I wish I had that sweet pony car back!

    Like 2

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