Déjà Vu: 1978 Ford Pinto Surfin’ Wagon

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The Pinto was Ford’s first foray into the U.S. subcompact market in the 1970s. Despite some issues that would surface later around rear-end collisions, more than three million of the cars would be sold through 1980. A station wagon was one of the offerings and this 1978 Seafoam Green Pinto looks quite tidy. But we think we’ve seen it before (how many of these wagons came with a color-coordinated surfboard at 51,000 miles?). The first time was in September 2022, and it was in Canton, Georgia at the time, and offered by a dealer for $11,890. Now it’s in Columbus, Ohio, and featured by a different dealer here on eBay for $15,900. Do four months equal $4,000? Thanks for the tip, gb70!

Let’s assume for the moment that this car has a twin. Until 1978, the Pinto was the smallest Ford sold in the U.S., but that changed with the introduction of the Fiesta. Nearly two feet shorter than the Pinto, the German-designed Fiesta was the first front-wheel-drive car sold by Ford in the USA. The rear-wheel-drive Pinto would be replaced by the Escort a couple of years later. The car was arguably more successful than its main competitor, the Chevy Vega, which had even more PR problems and moved one-third fewer cars in two-thirds of the time.

Unlike most Pinto’s, this one has survived nicely, and the low mileage suggests it was used sparingly over the past 45 years. The inclusion of a surfboard suggests it spent time in California, which was also the case with the earlier Pinto (coincidence you say? Nah). From all indications, this is a turn-car automobile that you won’t have to spend months and a boatload of money fixing up. But nearly $16,000 might be considered a lot for a vintage car that was once thought of as a disposable commodity. And it wasn’t a rear item when new as Ford built nearly 189,000 Pinto’s in 1978.

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  1. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    Interesting how some collector cars just get bought and sold, being to me in their own sort-of category of “collector” (as opposed to someone who buys a car and keeps it for a long time). I wonder if this is one. I had that thought about all those high-dollar Mecum cars this week.

    Anyhow…. nice Pinto wagon. The surfboard adds nothing for me. But I do like the manual transmission and the unusual color and especially the striped upholstery.

    Like 28
  2. HoA Howard AMember

    Got to love BarnFinds, from the sublime to the ridiculous. An Alfa to a Pinto, or “Pinno”, as the old mans body shop called them. As mentioned, I saw quite a few, as the old man bought them wrecked, mostly wagons, and most hit hard in the back and had them repaired. Front damage, he stayed away from. He repaired several sedans, never once saw one that was burned. The 4 speed has odd ratios. 1st, is real low, big hole to 2nd, then 3rd & 4th normal. IDK, pain the axx to me, the automatic did just fine. A 5 speed was sorely needed. My 4 speed Crapi [sic] had the same trans. Nice find, there is a wagon on my bicycle route, hasn’t moved in couple years, but a current plate. I doubt it’s for sale. This is the only way you’ll find them, once they rusted, and 99% did, nobody kept one. Americas 1st throwaway cars.
    Also, my daughter lives in L.A., and this color is EVERYWHERE! Chairs, dishes, furniture, its like green when I was a kid.

    Like 10
  3. Harvey HarveyMember

    Columbus Ohio, surfing spot of Ohio:-)

    Like 14
  4. Joe

    I believe Ford called this color jade. I think it wears it well!

    Like 5
    • Howard Scott Brown

      I had one that had to be repainted after an accident. The color is Medium Jade.

      Like 1
  5. Rw

    Drove a baby blue 4 cyl auto with AC ,80 miles a day for years until floors rotted,sold for 300bucks,a snowboard would be more useful in Ohio.

    Like 3
    • Big C

      I’ve owned 6 Pinto’s in various configurations. Driven through many Ohio winters, with the wagon being the best in the snow. There’s two things you need to make them go in the snow. Weight in the rear, and an ability to drive.

      Like 6
      • Rw

        Had tall 14in. Studded snow tires on mine not enough power to spin went as the Jeeps I drive now.

        Like 0
      • mike

        yes an a good set of snow tyres.I ran them on my 1979 wagon…really good in the snow.

        Like 1
      • 370zpp 370zppMember

        Big C, I agree. Wintertime, in the back of my 72 Pinto wagon, I kept a large steel vise casting along with my tool box, positioned directly over the rear axle. That and snow tires. Never got stuck in upstate NY & Vermont winters.

        Like 2
  6. Sam61

    Why does every dufus/dingus selling a station wagon feel the need to put surfboard on the roof!

    I hereby promise, when the day comes to sell my 86 Eagle Wagon, that I will break the trend and put a wrapped up dead mannequin of Aunt Edna on the roof.

    Pinto is a nice find for $10,000 ish.

    Like 20
  7. Jim in FL

    When I was in high school, my brother worked for an auto parts store that had a machine shop. Their delivery fleet was probably like 20 of these little pinto wagons with 2 litre engines. All of them had at least 100k miles on them. The owner struck a deal with my brother to rebuild the engines. For a bunch of weekends we would go in and pull an engine, disassemble, and hot tank it. Meanwhile we would lap the valves and break the glaze and rering pistons on a second engine and put it together. Then install a third. We had a rotating bunch of engines and I could probably rebuild what we called a “2000 pinto” blindfolded. They were nice workhorses, and cars like this are needed today.

    Like 13
  8. 64 Bonneville

    A 3$ is $12K and a #1 is valued at $13,599. We are all aware that the dealers put a little fudge factor in their price, so that people think they got a “good” deal. In my book I would be hard pressed to do more than $8500 for it, no A/C would be a tough sell anywhere but in the NE part of the country, or maybe up around Seattle. I do like the Pinto Wagons for parts chasers, and the hatchback for running in town due to fuel mileage but have driven them on long trips w/ no cruise control and your backside will get numb in a hurry.

    Like 6
  9. Motorcityman

    I had a powder blue version of this in 1980 in Detroit.
    My first New car!
    4 speed and all.
    I’ve owned 3 Pintos over the decades, all ran well……..course I was never rear ended!

    Like 1
  10. Ken Johnson

    Fun Fun Shaging
    Mini Longroof
    A Ford brat, Had one in orange as employee preferred lease.
    Dad, upper mgmt, arranged some special options,
    Holly carb, Ram air filter & rear gear ratio.
    The wagon had another frame cross member across the back, stronger & better protection in case of a possible hit.
    Carried 2 100lb bags of mortar fwd of rear axle.
    Would still light up the tires @ high school parking lot.

    Like 2
  11. Troy

    Almost $16k for a pinto, is pot legal in this state? Click on the add link then scroll down and eBay shows similar vehicles for sale one of them is another pinto wagon for $4,000 that’s still $3500 to much but good luck to them

    Like 4
  12. Howie

    The seller has a replica Cobra listed, which seems like a much better deal, and yes more $$$.

    Like 1
  13. Stephen Payne

    Years ago I had a 1976 wagon. Ran good, good mileage and utility-wise was pretty handy. The little 4 cylinder standard on the floor was running just fine when the drivers’ seat broke thru the rusty floorboard, coming to rest on the pavement. Fortunately it happened at school zone speed.

    Like 3
  14. Maggy

    I remember back in 87 a kid I worked with that was 16 at a repair shop had 2 of the hatchbacks that were USPS postal vehicles.He hopped one up with a header and some cylinder head work. That 2.3 was a tough little engine.He’d beat the snot out of it but it kept going.

    Like 2
  15. Charles
  16. gregory kina

    so no wood grain on the sides?

    Like 0
  17. Pinto man

    I was supposed to get a 1972 pinto wagon for an inheritance but It was wrecked.20 years later I found a 1974 with 16,750 miles like new condition. Original paint and upholstery. I wish I could post a picture. She’s a beauty 😍

    Like 1
  18. Harry Allen

    I still miss my 74 wagon. It had a 4 speed and served me well for several years. Being a maintenance technician (not automotive) maintenance was my montra. I drove it for 220,000 miles and it would get 35 MPG on the highway. I have nothing but fond memories of its performance.

    Like 2
  19. duke

    nice vintage sled—its only 10k overpriced

    Like 1

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