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24k Original Miles: 1979 Ford Pinto ESS

There really must have been something in the water at Ford during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In Australia, Ford introduced an options pack called ESP, which stood for European Sports Pack. In America, they created an options pack for the Pinto called ESS, or European Sports Sedan. I can hear collective groans escaping from some of you as you look at this Pinto, but this does appear to be a good one, and how many of those do you see today? Located in Sparta, Michigan, you will find the Pinto listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $9,500 for the Pinto, although the option is available to make an offer.

I guess that it’s true that every country has what I refer to as their “automotive whipping boy.” These are cars that are often boring, bland, or badly built, and as a result, people pour scorn on them. In Australia, one one of ours was the Lightburn Zeta (Google it if you want to see just how horrible a car can really be). That seems to have been the fate of the Pinto, but this particular car deserves a bit of a look. The owner purchased the car from an estate, and it had been left sitting and unused for many years. He has managed to bring it back to life, and when you look at it, the little Pinto has survived remarkably well. There is some rust in the car, but it consists of a few very minor spots that will be easy to fix. The photos of the floor reveal a car that is in amazing condition, with no sign of even surface corrosion or scaling. The Pinto Yellow paint looks good, but the black on the rockers could use a touch-up, as there are a few minor scratches there.

The ESS pack brought with it a few interior features for the Pinto. This included bucket seats with sports trim, a sports gauge cluster, and a sports steering wheel. This Pinto appears to retain all of these features, and they do appear to be in good condition. In fact, the whole interior looks basically spotless, with no signs of any real rips, tears or staining. The seat upholstery might not be to everyone’s taste, but at least it is in good condition.

So, what performance upgrades did the ESS pack bring to the table for the Pinto? Well, nothing actually. Buyers could choose between the 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that produced 88 hp, or the 2.8-liter V6 that pumped out 102 hp. This one has the 2.3, which is backed by an automatic transmission. The car is also fitted with power front disc brakes. After sitting for years, the owner has gotten the car running, and he says that it runs and stops really well. Due to its extended hibernation, he believes that the 24,000 miles that show on the odometer may well be original. He also says that every item on the car works exactly as it would have when the car was new.

We see the occasional Pinto here at Barn Finds, and their condition can vary enormously. This example is one of the nicest that I’ve seen for a while. I know that there are plenty of people who don’t have much time for the Pinto, but I think that this is one that could attract some attention. Is it worth the asking price? It’s over to you for the answer to that question.


  1. Howard A Member

    Well, Adam knows his audience, a Pinto ESS( whistles) who was sportin’ THAT kind of cash? Pintos were good cars, but dress it up any way you want, it’s still a Pinto. $10g’s for a Pinto, even a low mileage one, there’s your collective groan.

    Like 28
    • Sandy Claws

      Say what you want, but you have to admit that is a good looking car. Might not be worth ten grand to you and me but if someone had one just like it in high school, might be worth it to them. Old memories are not all linked to high horsepower. Some people love(ed) a car for any number of their own reasons and a beautiful example today might be a sale to them. Has been said here before, price is variable, all depends on the seller and the buyer. Besides, to me this is a far better buy then high six figures for an old ratty 356 or the like, plus more people will know what it is and make them smile when you go by. When you do, smile back and wave, Pintos were always friendly cars.

      Like 6
      • Bakyrdhero

        Well put Sandy

        Like 2
  2. Jaydawg7 Jaydawg7

    Surprised to see the full back glass on this. I thought that was exclusive to the Mercury Bobcats.

    Like 0
    • don

      1979 and 1980 Pintos and Bobcats had the full glass hatch . I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ESS package on a Pinto though !

      Like 4
      • Chief

        As well as 1978 Runabouts on the full glass hatch.

        Like 0
  3. Rosko

    Looks great. Even modern some how.

    Like 7
    • Bakyrdhero

      The interior vaguely reminds me of the 1983 Mercury Capri four cyl we had when I was a kid. I liked that car. This is a nice looking Pinto

      Like 2
  4. Alfie

    Euro styling autos were all the rage back in the late ’70s to early ’80s, and it’s been like that ever since.

    But it being an ESS and has an auto tranny? Insert another collective groan.

    Like 12
  5. R Soul

    ESS on a Pinto = lipstick on a pig.

    Like 13
  6. Keith

    A pinto is a pinto is a pinto is a pinto! Know matter what package and miles it has on it. And for $9500.00? Heck Nawww! Nothing but junk.

    Like 5
  7. Brian Scott

    Parked between two Dodge Demons, my guess is that this would get more attention.

    Like 10
  8. George

    4K at the MOST!

    Like 7
  9. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    I’m always pleasantly surprised to see once-common but now rarely-seen economy cars, especially when in good condition like this one. My memory recalls Pinto ESS models from brochures, in silver. But I’m not sure I have ever seen one in the flesh. I think the ESS package dresses up the exterior and interior quite nicely.

    I had a Pinto, it served me well, wouldn’t mind having another. This one is very nice, but wish it was a manual transmission. As noted, it would surely draw attention. For whoever wants a nice Pinto like this, more power to them, and I don’t care what they pay for it.

    Like 4
  10. Little_Cars Little Cars Member

    Seller would move that Pinto super quick if he dropped his bargaining price to something like $6500-$7000. When these final models came out, I thought the new styling (if you could call it that) was everything tacked on to sell a few more units. This many years later, it is kinda groovy.

    Like 4

    Pinto was the biggest POS I ever owned. JUNK

    Like 1
  12. Dovi65

    It’s nice. It’s clean. It’s not rusty. It would make for a nice little runner. The seller is dreaming; it’s not anywhere close to a $10K car.

    Like 6
  13. Superdessucke

    Seems very dear for a Pinto but in this crazy economy who knows? Go for it!

    Like 0
  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I liked the Pinto and vegas; as a mechanic I made plenty of $ on them? Laughed all the way to the bank. Lol
    God bless America

    Like 0
  15. Ted

    If this was a stick car might have raised an eyebrow, but it’s kinda like meeting a 60 year old virgin, not much interest in the market for it.

    Like 4
  16. daCabbie

    I think the seller is spot on with the pricing… you can always come down on the price, but you can only sell it once.

    Find a comparable vehicle that has sold in the past year… it’s probably not out there… so you gotta test the waters.

    I’m not really into cars that haven’t been maintained… in about three months this car is gonna lose every seal in it… and that’s if you don’t put ethanol fuel in it.

    I’d buy it… if I were young, rich and stupid… I’m only two of them.

    Like 2
  17. 8banger Dave Mika Member

    BTW, I would drive the H**L out of a Zeta Sport if I could only (6′, 4″) fit into it…maybe I can get one for my niece…

    Like 0
  18. Darrun

    I would say it’ s a bargain, If you compare it to the Million dollar Jeep. It’s definately nice, but it’s a Pinto, and I’m a Pinto fan, but the value isn’t up there.

    Like 2
  19. CanuckCarGuy

    FoMoCo should bring out a modern Pinto, with retro-styling to boot…a guaranteed seller, especially with an EcoBoost under the hood.

    Like 6
  20. Miguel

    As a Pinto lover, I would never pay that much for one.

    The draw of the car was how much car you got for so little money.

    Like 3
  21. Keith

    Junk period!!!!!

    Like 0
  22. Carstories Member

    Wow, I love it! Not far from me, either. Brother-in-law bought one new, it was a great car for him. The ESS package really gives it a sporty appearance compared to a normal one. And this one’s in great shape, too; although I think he’s about two grand too high. Hmm, maybe I’ll make an offer n see what happens. (If I can figure out this eBay thing.)

    Like 4
  23. Del

    And it still has not exploded.

    Better ideas from Ford

    Like 0
  24. Retrolover

    WOW! I LOVE IT! 😃DEFINATELY draw attention at a retro car show! The YELLOW MAKES the car, ESPECIALLLY with the black trim!

    Like 1
  25. Gary

    I owned 4 Pinto’s as a young adult. I had great luck with them. My last was a white heavily striped Cruising wagon. I bought it brand new. Had a jade green ’78. It had a white Starsky and Hutch stripe. Loved that one!

    Like 0
  26. Mick

    My first car was a ’79 Pinto ESS. Silver like in the brochure. Mine was a 2 door coupe, not a hatchback. I bought it in 1990 from the original owner for $400 with 55K miles and a 4cyl engine that knocked on the bottom end. and minor Michigan rocker rust. I drove the snot out of that little car until my ex- GF windowed the block when the con rod broke and left her stranded on the expressway. *snicker* The later engines had cheaper iron with less nickel in it and wore out quickly as the case with mine. I did re-do the head completely new which turned out to help as my head builder informed me the valves I ordered were the wrong ones and were oversize. Which my parts store guy never asked me if I needed oversize and took it upon himself. I said just oversize the seats and go with it. My car did have factory 3.10 gears. Not sure if all ESS’s did. The only performance mod Ford added to the car. LOL I have learned that the ESS package was a dealer installed option and is estimated that only 100 were sold. I sure wish I had this car back as I thinl the silver paint and 2 door coupe was the best looking of the pictures I have of other ESS’s. I have seen another ESS either on the road. I have not seen any pictures of the silver paint 2 door coupe other than what is in the brochures.

    Like 0

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