Custom Off-Roader: 1978 Ford Pinto 4×4

As I searched through the archives here at Barn Finds, I was able to confirm that this is not the first time we have seen this vehicle that manages to marry a 1978 Ford Pinto Squire Wagon with a 1966 Ford Bronco. In fact, we saw it in this excellent article written by Andrew Tanner back in November of 2017. It would seem as though things have changed a bit with the Wagon since then, so I need to thank Barn Finder Ian C for spotting this beauty for us. You will find this unique wagon located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. You can scare your neighbors by parking this beast in your driveway for a mere $5,000.

The Bright Dark Blue paint on the Pinto is really showing its age, and it was some of the distinctive imperfections in the paint that helped me to confirm that this is the vehicle that we have featured previously. The simulated wood-grain is also looking pretty tired, and there is no doubt that the whole exterior could benefit from a cosmetic refresh. However, just what form this would take would be entirely dependent on the next owner’s vision for the vehicle. I can see some merit in reapplying the original color and the wood-grain, but I can also see plenty of attraction in providing what is a fairly wild vehicle with a fairly wild paint job. The good news is that at least this won’t entail repairing major rust areas, because the body does appear to be quite solid and clean. The owner provides some photos of the Pinto’s underside, and the floors look good, while the 1966 Bronco frame on which it rides has no issues or problems.

Apart from the enormous center console and a few minor controls, the interior is all Pinto, circa 1978. In the previous article, Andrew did make mention of the plaid seat upholstery, and that’s still there. It has deteriorated somewhat over time, while the dash pad sports plenty of cracks. The carpet is also quite stained, but the door trims and the remaining plastic that we can see actually looks quite good. Given the sorts of activities that the Pinto is likely to undertake in the future, any interior retrim will probably be most effective if the next owner steers clear of cloth upholstery. It might also be worth seeing if it is possible to apply some Dynamat to the floors for sound insulation, and to then replace the existing carpet with rubber mats. It could still look very tidy but would be significantly more hardwearing than carpet. Anyway, it’s just a thought.

I wish there were some photos of the engine because this is all a pretty interesting story. When the Pinto was previously offered for sale, the person who owned it at that point claimed that the engine was a 302ci V8 out of a Boss Mustang. Plenty of our readers questioned that claim, but it isn’t an issue this time. What powers the Pinto is a 289ci V8, which is backed by a C4 automatic transmission. The vehicle retains all of the correct and fully functional 4-wheel-drive components from the Bronco that donated the frame to this project. I have to admit that I had never really thought about just how close the wheelbase measurements between a Pinto Wagon and a Bronco are, but there is only around 3″ between them. That explains why the Pinto body mated to the Bronco frame so nicely. The owner does point out one fact about this build that I, and any potential buyers, should find quite reassuring. This build was completed using all Ford parts. No aftermarket components were required to marry these two cars together, which means that any parts needed for future maintenance work will be a piece of cake to source. One other good thing about this vehicle is that it isn’t just some toy that is to be used for mud runs or other recreational activities. The Pinto is registered, roadworthy, street legal, tagged, insured, and is ready to go. It is said to start easily, it runs and drives well, and the transmission shifting smoothly. This Pinto is ready to be driven home by its next owner, which would seem to be a major step forward on where things were only 2-years-ago.

Sometimes I look at one-off custom builds like this Pinto/Bronco, and I shudder. These hybrid builds can start off with such promise, but the final result can be, more often than not, a nightmare of biblical proportions. What I like about this build is the fact that the two donor vehicles are from the same manufacturer, which has given the owner the chance to complete the build using all genuine mechanical components. That should potentially make future maintenance work pretty straightforward, which is always a huge plus with a custom build. Part of me would love to see the panels and paint returned to their original combination, while part of me would love nothing more than to see someone apply a wild custom paint finish to the body. You know, something that befits a pretty wild custom like this. However, the biggest part of me just wants to climb behind the wheel and take this baby for a spin. I suspect that it could be a real blast to drive. The person who eventually buys this Pinto will probably also need to invest in a sandblaster because I am guessing that this will be the only thing that will remove the smile from their face once they’ve been off-road in this beast.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Alright,,, ( cleaning coffee out of keyboard), see this 1st thing, the rest of the day should go okay. It’s cool, I like all 4wd renditions, no matter how absurd, and you have to admit, it’s unusual. It’s like, when it comes to 4 wheelers, the sky is apparently the limit. IDK, it’s neat, give them new Rubicon owners something to talk about. Looks capable, for sure. I’ve been on some trails out here, that my dirt bike has trouble with. This type of vehicle is about the only thing that can make it, and consequently, are tearing up the trails, but what the heck, all in good fun. Environmentalists, of which we have a few in Colorado, cringe, but you can’t hurt rocks. 4 wheelin’, once this virus is over, brings in a ton of money, and the tree huggers play 2nd fiddle. Cool find.

    Like 10
    • Howard A Member

      And another thing, a donor ’66 Bronco?? Good heavens, someone missed the boat there,,,

      Like 14
  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    This is how you increase the dork factor of a Pinto wagon.

    Like 7
  3. Robert Davis

    Just think if it was still a 66 Bronco body it would be worth a mint now its not worth the pinto body that’s on it LOL

    Like 3
  4. Fred W

    I hope they only scrapped the Bronco because it was too far gone!

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Apparently, no such thing as “too far gone” today.

      Like 7
  5. Will Fox

    Just…….no…….not even……!

    Like 2
  6. JeffD

    That’s not a marriage of a Pinto and Bronco….it’s more like they are “shacking up” together….lol.

    Like 6
    • Jeffro

      More of a “shotgun wedding “

      Like 5
      • Ian C

        More like a bit too much moonshine at the family reunion.

        Like 5
  7. Ken Jennings

    This looks dangerous, I hope it has roll bars, and lots of them.

    Like 2
    • RIch

      And AIRBAGS too! The Barn was the best place for this Piecer!!!!

      Like 2
  8. Dave

    What a beauty! The lumber yard camo really brings it all together.

    Like 1
  9. Cooter914 Cooter914

    I can’t believe Ford never thought of this. It moves the gas tank completely out of the crumple zone.

    Like 8
  10. Mike

    Some people have entirely too much time on their hands. And if someone buys this,…that will only give the seller more direction to do it again….

  11. Rick

    Why?

    Like 1
  12. Rich

    “why” just why????

    Like 1
  13. lc

    Well, it is unique. I wouldn’t want it though. But I would drive it if they let me for the fun of it in some off-road course. The Pinto Wagon looks good if you smooth it out by lowering tad little bit and with the right wheels and tires. Paint it all one color like blue and tint the windows. Under the hood a turbo swap will compliment its look.
    I saw a Pinto Wagon like that before on Craigs in Arizona. That lead me to owning two hatchbacks one being a Pinto 2.8l and the other being a Bobcat 2.3l. Pinto was going to replace the Bobcat, but the engine had some issues even though it looked nice. Ended up selling the Pinto, and had the Bobcat’s 2.3l rebuilt with a Ranger head. After that, I wasn’t completely satisfied with it so I finally sold it. I looked for the 2.3l turbo. I found one in a Foxbody Mustang that had been swapped from the original 2.3l aspirated engine.

  14. Wayne

    Just another ‘Bama-Cruiser.
    To each their own.
    I have 4 wheeled in a pick-up truck. But it is not the same as 4 wheeling in the FJ40 with the doors off!

  15. Desert Rat

    I never will understand why someone thought doing this to a car was a good idea, ( “Hey Billy-Bob, I got this here old car body and you got that old 4×4 frame why don’t we put em, there both together and have us one big-o pile of crap, what you say?) but to each his own right? Looking a the that poor Pinto SW body it makes me want to take the body off and reunite it to a factory Pinto frame and I’m not even a Pinto fan, I’ sooo confused… It probably be best to just take this old horse out behind the coral and just shoot him, putting it out of it’ misery.

    Like 1
  16. Robert

    I’d down size the wheels a couple sizes and lower the body 4-6″ depending. Then open up the wheel wells as needed for clearance. Leave the body as is as long as nothing is falling off.
    Now that would be a ride for me.

    • lc

      Well, here is another one that has been lifted with BIG tires. It’s a 78 El Camino listed near Grantville, GA in the sticks for $3800. Says wife wants it gone. He is selling it along with other trucks. If he doesn’t sell by June, he will part it out. Seller says “it’s a Big Boy’s Toy”.

  17. Jimmy

    If I was to buy this toy I would have to do something about the front and rear bumpers and side steps to blend more into the marriage of the 2 vehicles. I guess if you want to get thumbs up in a Pinto wagon this is how you do it.

  18. Fitz

    To all the Naysayers… I’d drive this one like I stole it. Daily. Bag on it all you want, but show me what you have built ( not bought ) first, and let me critique it…

    Like 1
  19. Fitz

    To all the haters, I’d drive it like I stole it. Daily. Bag on it all you want, but let’s see what you built (not bought) first, and let me critique it.

    Like 1
  20. Claudio

    A 2 door wagon !
    With plastic fake wood
    Thats already fugly to me !
    Add the 4×4 frame and height
    And youve got a trio that i hate ….

  21. Rich

    Thumbs up Only on the way to the Scrap Yard! Both are the F word cars!!!!

  22. lc

    If you had to drive this because you had to, then, you would. So going to the junk yard is not an option as of now. Those damn dooms day scenarios may be arriving into our future. So be ready to ‘Let It Ride” as BTO sang it.

    Like 1
  23. Rich

    Going to the Junk Yard IS an option. And there would be absolutely No Reason for me to Have To Drive it!!!! And the doomsday scenarios will Not be arriving in My future!!!! Sorry!

  24. WH

    So many Nay sayers! It’s not your cup of tea so you nit pick it to pieces.
    You probably do that with people too!

    Like 2
    • Rich

      Just you! Are you saying we don’t have a right to voice our opinions? If they didn’t want our opinions, they wouldn’t have a Comment section, right?

  25. Rex Kahrs Member

    I get a kick out of these doomsday/zombie apocaypse/prepper types who hoard water and food and ammunition in case they have to hunker down in the face of some imagined crisis.

    Then, when the real crisis arrives and they miss one haircut, they immediately get cabin fever and stomp down down to the statehouse to demand their right to get infected and get a tattoo. So hunkering down goes immediately out the window, and the Dinty Moore beef stew in the bunker just sits there, because they gotta get some chicken wings and some free advertising for Harley Davidson on their arm. That’s America nowadays.

  26. lc

    Packing list – a bag, b bag, ruck, carry-on, weapon.

  27. g gagnon

    Someone has a a lot of money to waste!!!

  28. lc

    A fix to hide the frame issue would be to fabricate metal to look like it has a hull. If you look at an Army MAXPRO it sets very high, and has a hull under it.

  29. Robert

    Seriously, just lower the body down to a reasonable height and you got a nice little 4×4. Something akin to an AMC Eagle. Everybody seems to love them.

    Like 1
  30. lc

    Lo and behold, another lifted 78 El Camino on a Tahoe frame, 454ci, 37in tires. $6100. In Phoenix Craigslist.

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