1978 Ford Pinto Wagon With Only 28K Miles!

It’s hard to argue with a red 1978 Ford Pinto wagon for an eye-catching ride in today’s sea of silver, black, white, and gray SUVs. Even the later cars such as this one in the post-bumper-regulation era are so distinctive. I’d put my money on a Pinto wagon drawing a bigger crowd at a gas station than a Lamborghini would. This one is listed here on eBay in Denver, Colorado and there’s a $7,900 buy-it-now price listed. Thanks to Larry D. for submitting this tip!

This is a great-looking Pinto and it looks solid, but there are a few hopefully minor rust issues. The seller has provided great photos and lots of them, including the areas that are showing rust, mainly on the bottoms of the doors and fenders. They provided so many good photos that it’s hard to miss the fact that they have included almost no information about the car at all. Out of their 1,600+ word text piece at the bottom of the listing, there isn’t one word describing this Pinto wagon.

But, they do show two inspection sheets and their heading says, “WAGON . 2 OWNER. 28K ORIGINAL MILES. TIME CAPSULE. 2.3L AUTO PS PB DISC” And, they provided a partial but quick video showing a very quick walk around and then the car gets started and driven off of the platform. You can see the condition from all of the great photos, so maybe a lengthy description isn’t necessary. Thoughts?

I can’t quite tell if the carpet on the top of the tunnel is faded or if it’s a trick of the lights. They provide detailed photos showing beautiful, deep-red carpet in the footwell and by the emergency brake handle so maybe it’s the lighting. You can see that this car has Ford’s Cruise-O-Matic transmission rather than a manual and there are some cracks in the vinyl of the driver’s seat, otherwise, the interior looks fantastic right down to the rear cargo area.

The clean engine is Ford’s 2.3L inline-four which had around 88 horsepower and 118 ft-lb of torque. With fewer than 28,000 miles, this car really does appear to be a time capsule. It’s not perfect but none of us are. Are there any Pinto fans out there?

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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Good write-up Scotty especially the first paragraph. Eye-catching, and give yourself time to visit with folks as you run errands or attend Cars & Coffee. Because plenty of folks will want to talk to you about your car. Many of us had economy cars of this era (I did), so that’s one reason they typically garner many comments here on Barn Finds. (But no need for gas tank comments, this doesn’t apply to the newer wagons.)

    These sorts of ads from dealers frankly irritate me. Lots of info about the dealer and their processes, the many pictures are great, but I sure like to see verbiage about the condition and plusses and minuses of the vehicle.

    Pretty good Pinto, but not perfect. These will never be super-valuable, but prices for nice examples have firmed since there are so few around and nostalgia for ownership kicks in. I’ve even seen five figures for the best examples.

    Like 15
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Thanks, Bob!

      Like 4
      • John Hanrahan

        I had a 74 Mercury Bobcat wagon in 78. It had fresh baby blue paint and looked and ran great. It had a minister on call sticker in the window, I could park anywhere! 18 months after I bought it something locked up in the rear end making in hard on corners but great in deep snow, both doors dropped, had open door roll down window close door climb in window! Car had 7 fluids leaked 8! One side completely rusted out. I loved the little beast, through all that it started and ran every time. You could squeeze 13 teenagers in it when it was $5.00 a car load at the drive-in!

        Like 3
  2. Ralph

    Agree with Bob, Scotty. Really enjoy reading your posts.
    My Dad bought a 73 Pinto Wagon new, and I have also owned a couple of them over the decades. All of them ended up with the carpet issue. Although I have no “proof” to base this on, I believe the faded carpet on the trans tunnel is a dye/sunlight/age issue. Every single Pinto I have ever seen has had this fading or discoloration situation.
    I can recall seeing this on 6 month old Pintos when I worked for Ford in the 1970s. Can remember the dealers doing warranty claims on brand new cars for the carpet, needing to replace the carpet as part of the buyers agreement in order to be able to sell the cars new. I always wondered who would buy a new car that needed the carpet replaced before it even left the dealer lot…?
    This was also a big problem with the Mustang II models.
    Has anyone else seen this, or recalls this issue?
    Or was it just an issue with the cars in the Southern part of the country?
    Now when it came to rust, well every Pinto I have ever seen anywhere seems to turn to rust quickly.

    Like 9
    • Chas

      Great comments Ralph. I really believe the fading was a big deal for some folks and that is why we no longer see a giant color wheel of interior color choices today. This is especially believable due to the fact that cars are on the road for longer these days than ever before. Gotta make it look new as long as possible.

      Like 1
      • Joe Bru

        Chas, in the 70’s the Japanese car sales exploded & these cars had limited interior colors to save the manufacturers money & offer low cost cars. Then American car sales went down & profits dropped so to save money & increase profits American manufacturers started to limit interior color choices & make a standard interior color & offer color options in deluxe interior packages for additional cost. Most people then didn’t opt for the deluxe interior colors so the variety shrank. This is the real reason interior colors went away.

    • KarlS

      I worked for Ford as a tech between 1973 and 1977 so I was there right in the middle of Pinto production and early Mustang II production and never saw this problem, even when I was doing new car prep. And this was in sunny Southern California.

      Like 1
    • Matt bomberger

      Great cars-great motors-had a 74 pinto with a 2.3 auto and a 79 turbo 2.3. It’s by far the best and simplest carbuerated 4 cyl. Ever built. And I’m a pontiac/olds guy

  3. Dwcisme

    One of my first jobs working for a car rental agency was a road trip to pick up a herd of Pintos at an out of town dealer. I can guarantee that these would do an indicated 100 mph down a very steep hill. Might have been a tail wind. Actually, I kind of liked these things. By 78, they had them pretty well sorted out and with a 4 speed, could be fun. In the snow. On an empty road.

    Like 7
  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    I hear that we’re not allowed to say anything negative anymore, but if we were….

    Like 12
  5. Superdessucke

    He better pray the police get to him before we do.

    Like 3
  6. Skorzeny

    Having driven and ridden in Ford products with this engine and an automatic, one word comes to mind, buzzkill. A manual would be fun, no wonder it has low miles.

    Like 5
  7. Jon.in.Chico

    We had a ’76 Pinto … cam went flat at about 36,031 miles – just out of warranty … long story about that car … dealer advertised Green Stamps … after purchase dealer was pissed I drove such a hard bargain and picked it up driving a Corvette … said stamps were only good on TBirds and LTDs, but nothing on the sign advertising it … took the story to “Chicago Today” and the dealer called me asking not to publish the story, that he’d give me the stamps … I told him I’d get the stamps either way but he shouldn’t have dicked around with me … I still like looking that up in online archives …

    Like 8
  8. Timothy Phaff

    Why did Ford go with a dual belt on an engine at 88hp? Thanks, guys

    • Dwcisme

      I’m going to guess that it was a redundant belt. People may not remember that drive belts did fail fairly regularly back then. They’re much more reliable and don’t stretch as much now.

      • Timothy Phaff

        Yes, very true, I’m so old, I sometimes forget the old-time auto issues. Thank You

      • Dwcisme

        VW’s came with a spare belt. The lug wrench fit the bolt on the generator/alternator I believe. Then, there is the famous “use a pair of nylons to fix it” saying.

        Like 2
    • Howard Kerr

      I had a 76 Pinto runabout with automatic transmission, it didn’t so much accelerate as gradually gather speed. I lived in the northeast and a sister had a Mustang II, neither car had the carpet discolor during the 2-3 years we owned them.
      I think I read somewhere once that Ford styled these cars so that the lines would make the car look substantial. Even the paint colors were supposedly stolen so that the paint would look thick…even when it wasn’t.
      Only buy a Pinto with an automatic transmission if you are about to do a V8 engine swap.

  9. Chris

    I would drive that

    Like 6
  10. 433jeff

    Pardon me while I laugh, nuk nuk nuk!

    Like 1
  11. 370zpp

    With either a third pedal or a V8, this would be a nice one to drive.

  12. Bunky

    I bought a ‘72 Pinto SW with 2L oh call and a 4 speed to replace a ‘68 Olds 442 during the gas crisis. The Olds was the nicest car I have ever owned. Fast, smooth, and handled amazingly for a car with 65% of its weight on the front wheels. However, it ate clutches and flywheels fairly regularly, and got 12 mpg on super-duper Premium. Exxon or Mobil only. Pinged on anything else. The Pinto would happily sip anything labeled as gasoline and got mid 30’s MPG. It was a blast to drive! It got totaled and I replaced it with a bright orange 74 wagon. 2.3L/ 4 speed. A lot quicker, but burned twice the fuel. 195/70/13 Goodyears and ET IV Mags all the way around. Big Daddy Don Garlits Tach and a Panasonic Stereo. My new girlfriend was embarrassed to be seen in it. (Chevy lovers) It’s been long enough that she now has fond memories of it. This year is #44. It’s OK to have a girlfriend when you’re married- as long as you’re married to your girlfriend.

    Like 5
  13. Dan

    That thing is straight of of the Blues Brothers movie!

    Like 6
    • Ralph

      Thanks for that visual memory! Now I can’t unsee the NAZI turds from that movie…..good memories!

  14. Motorcityman Member

    I had a New 79 but at least it was a manual 4 speed.
    Same 2.3, 4, but mine was light blue…..my first new car, not bad for a 18 year old. If I remember right my payment was like $104 a month!!
    I sold it and bought a New 83 Ford Escort manual hatchback.

  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Check the vehicle history to make sure it was never run off the end of a highway by a member of the Chicago Nazi Party.

    Like 10
  16. chrlsful

    “…any Pinto fan…”
    sure – a lima motor? a weber 32/36 PROGRESSIVE? a wagon livery? all in the win column for me. Put on the head w/D shaped ports, discs up frnt, a few sleeper twiques? -Even beddah-
    Bunky;s gotta time that motor…

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