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Bad With Plaid: 4-Speed ’78 Pinto Wagon


We like Pinto wagons here, as you can see by the ones we’ve featured. This one actually has my favorite front end being a 1978, although I’d want to replace the broken grille. This pretty solid, largely original car is located in San Diego, California and is for sale here on eBay, where bidding is starting at $999 without a reserve.


As far as useful classics go, this is a pretty good one. You can haul four people–five in a pinch–and their stuff. You’ll get decent gas mileage, have a row your own transmission and receive lots of smiles! Do you agree so far? There are some wrinkles in the left rear that look like they’ve been massaged back out some of the way, but they don’t look that bad. The bumper looks nice and shiny as well.


Does the red on the tailgate match the rest? I don’t think it’s exactly the same. But there is a lot of space back there that’s very usable. The seller tells us that they purchased the car from the original owner, and that there’s 54,000 miles, but they have no documentation of that. It runs and drives well–the seller says it cruises easily at 60 mph.


Whoa! I’m not sure what the mid to late 1970’s Ford interior designers were on, but it must have been pretty good stuff! I also find it quite ironic that the red carpet has faded in spots to the match the yellow in the seats!


It’s even more vivid in the rear, where it hasn’t been faded or worn. Wow, that’s bright!


Plenty of room back here if you need to get away from that bright plaid! Actually, this really looks big compared to a lot of modern hatchbacks, which is what I’d really compare this car to.


This is the regular 2.3 liter OHC four cylinder fitted to most late Pintos. If it’s really as nice as the seller says it is, it might be interesting to see how low this stays? Agreed?


  1. Ben T. Spanner

    We used to buy Pinto wagons from Purolator Courier, (they hauled cancelled checks and other business materials). Some had new crate engines, transmissions, or rear ends. We added fake wood and a used driver’s seat (no plaid). Usually tan, always white outside.

    The used car lots couldn’t get enough of them. Nice cheap fleet maintained cars. They all had shiny Purolator oil filters!

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      Have you shared that with us before?

      I remember hearing about such an enterprise here, but I’d swear it was another poster not yourself. Would be quite something to have two separate posters with such a unique story!

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  2. dirtyharry

    It is interesting that these are rear wheel drive, unlike almost every small car today. It would be relatively easy to do an engine swap (I am thinking a recent stock ford 4.0 V-6) and this would easily be a 6 second car in a 0-60.

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  3. Brian

    Innocent question: Why is the Volvo 1800ES a shooting brake and the Pinto is a wagon? I consider both to be 2-door wagons, so where is the line drawn?

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I thought about that as I wrote the posts (happened to be one right after the other). I think of the shooting break as a converted sports or sporty car, whereas the Pinto is a more normal vehicle that happens to be a two-door station wagon. But your point is very valid!

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  4. Stephen

    Basic utility vehicle…the 2.3 I-4 engines were pretty durable and reliable as I recall.

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  5. Howard A Member

    I’ve always liked the Pinto wagon as well. While I don’t care for the 2.3 and the 4 speed, ( the V-6 would be the lesser of 2 evils here) and it would benefit from a 5 speed, or automatic, I’d really go for this car. Even though I don’t care for the way it’s equipped, for the sheer rarity of these cars today, especially in this condition. Not many people hung on to Pinto’s. My old man used to buy Pinto’s ( dime a dozen in the 80’s) and fix them ( usually body work) and resell them, so I drove quite few. I liked the wagons the best. While collectibility hasn’t caught up to these, yet, the Pinto really help start the whole small car biz, and these were good cars. Great find.

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  6. FordSon

    I loved my ’80 2.3 4-speed wagon, but as mentioned, they were prone to rustworm given the thin sheet metal.

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  7. Rock On Member

    Back when muscle cars roamed the earth, you were always very wary of a car with a hole in the middle of the grille. Usually meant that the owner frequently upgraded the camshaft!!!

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Rock On, hmm, never heard that one, but years ago, a hole in the grill meant you hand cranked it to start.

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    • DrinkinGasoline

      Ummm, I’m not seeing a connection. Hole in a grille….camshaft?

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  8. Rock On Member

    Rumour has it that the big hole in the middle of the grille on the Mercury Cyclone Spoiler was put there to ease cam changes!

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  9. Johnson

    This would be an ideal candidate to re-create the flying car scene from The Blues Brothers!

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  10. grant

    Aahhh, memories…

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  11. Big Andy

    Great Car, terrible colors. I never liked red. Maroon yes, this red is like the designer is color blind or arrogant! Manual transmission, 5 speed would be great or 4 speed NP 833. Bigger inline 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder engine. Why can’t car manufactures make a car like this with depth maybe a turbo diesel engine? Why don’t you sell me a toyota, a hundai, nissan…

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  12. stan

    looks like it was towed behind a motor home, i.e. the tow bar hitch sticking out from under the front bumper, I had a few of these, the last one got a 5 speed behind it’s 2.3, 1st was really low so it came out of the hole good for a 4 cyl, and the 2.3 motor will go and go with basic care, look how many years ford made it

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  13. patty

    I had a 73 Pinto that we bought brand new when my hubby was in the military. If my memmory is correct it cost us $1900. , brand new. It was a good little runner except that when you go around a corner fast the rear wheels would hop around the corner. We put wide tires on the back to alleviate that problem. It was a 4 speed with an overhead cam. We had to have the cam replaced as my hubby was really hard on any car thet he drove. As our family grew we sold it to my sister who needed cheap wheels. It sat for awhile and an Uncle bought it for scrap. I hear when he was towing it across a large bridge one of the tie rods snapped. A sad ending but at least it didnt happen when someone was driving it.

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  14. Anthony_NY

    Too bad this style of car, the compact wagon, wasn’t developed further. We would be much better off with a modern version of this, than 3 ton SUVs. That said this particular one is a bit too much Texas Bordello Red and plaid for my taste.

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      It was and has continued to be, in the rest of the world. But Americans refuse to buy them. I’ll leave the surmising to others.

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  15. Anthony_NY

    Interesting wiki page on the term shooting brake. Developed from a term for a lightweight horse drawn wagon. The motorized version was literally used to transport gentlemen out for a bit of shooting in Britain and Europe. Attendants up front, the rear seats for gents, and the back for guns and game. In the US they were called “station” wagons because they were primarily used as local transport to and from the train station. People here in the NE still use the term station car. Usually a cheap daily driver for back and forth but unlike the good old days you park them at the station.
    The idea that a brake is a 2 door sports car / wagon is modern.
    Lynx called their XJS conversion an Eventer, that would probably mean Tailgater here in the US.
    So bottom line: US = Station Wagon and Britain = Shooting Break or Estate Car.

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  16. Joe Howell

    Had a 72 wagon for 20 years and drove it into the ground. Rust finally made me junk it but it still ran at 153,000 miles. It always started in the winter and went well in the snow. I hauled all kinds of stuff in it when I was building my house, saving the really big stuff for my truck. Wish I had another new one stashed away in the garage in a big Ziplock Baggie, it would last me the rest of my driving days.

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