6,500 Mile Survivor? 1979 Ford Pinto

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Well, in the ongoing Ford Pinto – Chevrolet Vega debate, I guess the Pinto gets props for outlasting the Vega (1980 vs. 1977). But then again maybe Chevrolet finally grasped what a zero the Vega was and did the smart thing by putting it out of its, and our misery when they did. I know from the BF comments that I read, the Pinto is often the more favored of the two, other than that immolation issue that it encountered. Regardless, they were similar cars, trying to do similar things at similar times. Today, 43 years after the last Pinto was assembled, they’re not often encountered and I suppose that’s not a surprise as they were inexpensive, commodity cars. That said, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this ’79 Pinto on our tip line – it’s in fantastic condition and only claims 6,556 miles! It’s located in Severna Park, Maryland and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $5,600 with the reserve not yet met.

The seller tells us that he’s the third owner and has been for almost seven years. He claims garage-only storage and I can believe it; probably the same story with the two previous owners. It looks to be in like-new condition but I really don’t know with certainty, there’s only one exterior image and it’s the lead photo – no telling what the front or passenger side may reveal. The above image above does show a clean and rust-free door skin seam, a place where rust will often collect so that’s a positive sign. The design of these cars was innocuous, not a high-style compact but in no way offensive either. The only detraction is the railroad crosstie-sized bumpers but that was a sign of the times and I doubt Ford was going to put any $$$ into designing something new that would meet Federal standards but be more aesthetically pleasing – it was too late in the game for that.

One of Ford’s most common engines has to be their 2.3 liter, in-line, four-cylinder unit. Just last week we discussed its merits in this 1988 Ford Mustang post. In this case, it’s an 88 HP motor working via a four-speed manual transmission. The seller suggests, “Car runs strong and does not smoke AND IT HOLDS UP A LOT OF TRAFFIC“. OK, we’ve got that one out of the way… The engine images do reveal a motor that appears to have seen very little use.

The interior, which is extensively photographed unlike the exterior, is in the same condition as the exterior, it’s a matching light blue hue with cloth and vinyl upholstery. While the seating looks fine, the carpet shows more wear than what I would have thought a 6,500-mile car would have experienced – of course, it may just be faded too. The seller mentions, “I installed a NOS 8-track player; if you are the winning bidder, we will discuss the 8-track player“. Oh boy!

I haven’t reviewed too many Pintos for BF, just a few, and this example is probably the nicest (At least I think so, I don’t understand the lack of exterior images). Anyway, with that caveat out of the way, I’d say no complaints. My departing thought, other than trying to determine the likely market for this car, has to do with that mileage reading, what do you think, legit?

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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    A basic Pinto in a non-descript light blue. The 4-speed would make it a bit more fun to drive. Maybe it truly is low mileage, it sure does look nice. The carpet would fade just from being 40+ years old. Wonder why so few exterior pics.

    Remember, no need to rehash the trite gas tank issue, by 1979 that had long been taken care of.

    Another car for which one needs to be prepared for conversations with strangers when you stop for gas or at Kroger.

    Thanks Jim.

    Like 26
    • Grant

      Carpet won’t fade if kept in a garage out of the sun. At least, by my experience. These were once everywhere, like cockroaches. One was always coming out of the woodwork.

      Like 6
    • Dan D

      My wife had this exact car, with the exception of a dark blue exterior, and I can say, it wasn’t fun to drive at all, especially compared to my ’82 Dodge Colt with Twin Stick.

      Like 3
    • Greg in Texas

      No car with a gas tank between the rear bumper and rear axle is doing great in a rear end collision. I believe the lemon Vega needed a distraction to suggest a car with defective cylinder sleeves and warping blocks and heads (Vega) was the ‘better’ option. Pintos were decent commuters, and a responsible attempt to respond to the Oil Embargo.

      Like 0
      • RD

        I owned 2, one had an engine fire, the other burned by arson.

        Like 0
  2. Autoworker

    I’m liking this car. Other than the big bumpers. There’s a good possibility I help assemble this engine at the Lima Plant. I started there (the first time) in 1978.

    Like 21
    • Harry 1

      Its a nostalgic car. The kind old and young would inquire about it when parked. Not sure if I would pay upwards of 6g for the privilege to own it. For the winning bidder better go see it for yourself & take a mechanic to ensure its legitimacy.

      Like 3
      • Ray

        The only reason my dad bought his first Ranger was that it had the same exact powertrain. 2.3 and 4 speed manual. Nothing ever went wrong with it. I assume maybe some new gaskets are in order after this long, but otherwise it will run and drive for a long time.

        Like 4
    • Thomas H Piercy

      At one time I had 3 different versions of this same engine in my driveway and garage. 1. An 88′ Ranger Supercab 5 spd, 2. An 88′ Bayliner w/OMC drive. 3. An 87 Merkur XR4ti 5 spd. The Ranger had port fuel injection, The Merkur had the same turbo engine as the Tbird. (hand-assembled in Brazil with 4-bolt mains, etc.) and the OMC had a Rochester 2 bbl carb and Mallory ignition with no flywheel. All 3 performed well and I wish I still had them.

      Like 0
  3. Bick Banter

    A friend of mine had this exact, identical car in high school, only with an automatic. It was slow as a stone, but we spent a lot of time in it!

    To the extent that makes me a quasi-expert, I go with legit on the miles. The condition of the driver’s seat, dash pad, instrument gauges, door panels, pedals, etc. are mint. As is the engine bay, which has an original-looking Motorcraft radiator hose. Sure, that could be replicated or even be a replacement, but who’s going through the trouble for a Pinto? I think it’d show more wear if it had 106,500 miles.

    I see your point on the carpet. But anyone who has had a car with light blue interior knows that those carpets stain just looking at them wrong, and will fade with any exposure to light. To me, it looks like fading. Car could have been parked in a garage such that light shone on the interior in those areas.

    Like 10
    • Grant

      A slow car in high school showed that he had responsible parents. Good for him.

      Like 7
      • Bick Banter

        Yes, they were pretty responsible. He was a nerd, as was the terminology back in the day.

        Like 4
  4. Greenhorn

    To me, maybe the mileage isn’t exactly correct, but dang, that is a sharp looking car. The underhood photo shows nothing amiss, and that would lead me to believe the mileage is true. It would be fun for somebody and you could sure put a little zing into that motor if you wanted to.

    Like 9
  5. Nelson C

    Yes, as a make and model the Pinto did outlast the Vega. However GM knew it messed up and when the H-specials came out for ’75 it was game on. Again. Only now people not only got the (improved)platform but a much better series of cars with the V6 and V8 engines that they were installing in their garages. These carried on for an additional year until the J-car replacement arrived.

    Like 3
    • Edward Feigel

      Grumpy Jenkins made the Vega famous in pro stock racing, and so did Bob glidden with the pinto in pro stock racing

      Like 7
  6. B Wallace

    Why am I seeing so many pristine low mileage Pintos either online or in person? I think even then there were better cars to just stash away in your garage.

    Like 6
    • Bick Banter

      Probably less stash and more very limited use. The person gets older and starts driving less. And then the car just kind of becomes secondary as time flies by. No sense selling it because you need it now and then and it’s paid for. No sense buying a new one because you just don’t drive that much.

      Like 15
  7. alphasudMember

    I don’t think I will ever come to understand who buys a basic transportation vehicle and then squirrels it away? Even my grandmothers Pinto squire wagon had 20K on it when she passed. They were retired for over 15 years and didn’t need a second car but she called it her freedom wheels.

    Like 9
  8. Fritz Basset

    Five pieces of chrome and you would have a Mercury Bobcat; now that would be really something.

    Like 8
  9. Big C

    The first write up I’ve seen on BF that didn’t go to the tank myth. A sincere thank you is in order.

    Like 17
    • A.A

      You would have to pay me 6500.00 to take this car

      Like 6
  10. Philip Brown

    I’ve had 2 Pintos. They were both wonderful cats. With the 4 speed they had enough power. Noting wen wrong with either of them. One was even ass ended and didn’t catch fire. There were 5 of us in the car when that occurred. Nobody was injured at all.

    Like 12
  11. Bunky

    I bought 3 Pintos as daily drivers in years past. I can honestly say that I didn’t hold up any traffic. (all were 4 cylinder/4 speed) You just had to wind the rubber band pretty tight. ‘74 wagon with 2.3 would do just under 100 flat out on the level, with very minor mods.

    Like 8
    • Edwin Haggerty

      I also owned two Pintos, a 76 and a 78, both 4cyl manuals. I was sixteen when I got the first one and I drove it mercilessly. Got a speeding ticket the first day I owned it. There was a nice little hill in my friends apartment complex and we would pull up to the top of it, push in the clutch and rev the engine a couple of weeks past redline as the car rolled backwards down the hill, letting the clutch fly as we got to the bottom.The right rear tire would smoke all the way back up the hill. It had those cool Polyglass GT white lettered tires on it that I wore out somewhere around 17,000 miles. My arch enemy was another guy at school that had a Vega GT and we would race whenever we had a chance. We never determined a winner but I believe I was just a bit faster than him. The car did hold up despite the abuse I gave it but I didn’t have it too long before I lost my license and had to sell it. The 78 did develop a leaky head gasket and needed valve seals around 70,000 miles. I was only slightly kinder to that one.

      Like 7
  12. Dr Ron

    Great write up Jim.
    After my layoff in 1986 I sold my 1984 Audi 4000S Quattro that I’d bought new for more than I paid for it new and went back to college, paid my for my text books for a few semesters with the profit and immediately bought a ‘79 Mercury Bobcat in 3F Light Medium Blue with the blue interior and a four speed…
    I was the second owner and drove it for four years and had a ton of fun in that car.. added gas shocks, fatter radials and it’d take backroad curves at a very nice clip.
    Probably the most dependable car I’ve owned. Much more than the new 1990 VW Jetta I bought after my undergraduate time… It had the self clogging Bosch K Jetronic fuel injection and electrical gremlins from hell…
    This Pinto is a little gem.
    The carpeting in this Pinto isn’t the least bit faded… I have a few old photos of ‘Bob Car’ the Bobcat and the carpeting is the same as my memory of it and identical to this Pinto carpeting.
    My biggest Pinto regret was not buying a rare 1973 Grabber Blue Pinto to match my 1970 Grabber Blue 429 Ranchero GT…
    It was probably this one featured in Barn Finds back in 2018.


    Like 5
  13. Jeff

    Good Lawd, double your money and get a decent Cadillac or some other more distinctive car. Isn’t this double the price of a new pinto back then?

    Like 2
  14. C Force

    A pinto with a reserve price?That’s the funniest thing i’ve read all day….

    Like 2
    • Jeff

      Almost as funny as selling refrigerators to Eskimos, except they actually need refrigerators to keep their food from freezing.

      Like 1
  15. Lance Platt

    Glad to see a Ford Pinto in good condition. The light blue paint and matching interior are nicely color coordinated. I would want an automatic transmission model but most give kudos to a well preserved American economy car.

    Like 2
  16. Joe M.

    Ahh yes, the Hibachi of automobiles…

    Like 1
  17. Dan

    I detailed and cleaned used and new cars on the overnight for many years. I saw the very first Pintos come out and the very last in 80. Here is some insight. The black gearshift knob had white painted fill ins to identify the pattern. They would fade out after a year or so. Check it. The car was in the sun at some point. They were cheap rugs but if it was garaged the entire time, there would not be any fading. The wing nuts on the air cleaner are NOT correct . They came through with white plastic wing nuts. The ones pictured appear to be steel. Check the rug next to the gas pedal. Your foot would always rub against the rug because they were close together. Check the timing belt. Has it been changed? How much wear is on it? The 79 and 80 had a black plastic splash pan underneath the front bumper. Is it still there? They would always break with some miles on them. To me, it looks like it’s low mileage for sure but I would have to see it in person to be sure that the odometer is honest.They were very easy to roll back on all cars then. A nice piece of automotive history that will turn more heads today than you could ever imagine. Good luck to the new owner 😊👍

    Like 4
  18. Brian K

    In the early 80s, Pintos were very popular for racing at my local roundy round track in the mini class here in Florida. If you were lucky you could get 2 – 3 events out of them before they were scrapped. Even “decent” used Pintos were hard to sell to the driving public, and a lot of them would end up in the junkyards and would just send them straight to the crusher. It seemed by the mid to late 80s, it was getting hard to find even a Pinto body to use for racing, and they just seemed to vanish.

    Like 1
  19. Rex W Rossman

    The only new car I ever bought was a 78 Pinto Station Wagon. Put 180,000 miles on it. It’s still the best car I ever owned. Indestructible, Roomy, and I could tune it with a socket wrench. Most underrated car Ford ever built.

    Like 4
  20. chrlsful

    wishin it wuz the waggy.
    Lub da Lima, holly-weber 2v (Progressive) & 94 inch WB tho ~

    Like 0
    • Joe M.

      Can we get that in English?

      Like 1
  21. R Niz

    Buy it and hot rod the thing!!

    Like 0
  22. AnthonyD

    So this guy expects someone to pony up their hard owned money to buy his Pinto based on just 1 exterior photo? And he’s gonna pull the 8 track…but allow the buyer to negotiate for it? I can’t believe what I’m reading!

    Like 0
    • AnthonyD

      meant hard earned

      Like 0

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