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Glassback: 1979 Ford Pinto


While I realize that some of you wince when we feature a car like this Pinto, others of us have fond memories of growing up with Pintos, Vegas and Gremlins (and Bobcats, Astres and Eagles)! This Pinto was close to the end of the run, when Ford had already dealt with the rear impact safety issue and the Escort was soon to supplant Ford’s “better idea.” This one appears to be totally stock apart from an unusual aftermarket oil filter conversion and a locking gas cap. It is located in Coos Bay, Oregon and is for sale here on eBay at a buy-it-now of $2,000 and an opening bid of $1,000 without a reserve. I’m surprised at the lack of visible rust, presence of the original wheel covers and general neatness of the car.

The front end of the Pinto received an update for 1979, with the then-stylish addition of rectangular headlamps. Personally, I like the earlier noses. I do, however, remember my late first wife’s glass-hatched 1978 fondly, as it hauled many MG and Triumph parts around as I was fixing whatever piece of BL machinery I was driving that week. Hers was a base model like this one with the exception of the frameless glass hatch.I remember thinking that it was cool then, and still think it is now.

The seller feels it’s only got 65k miles; I question that given the abuse the hatch compartment has taken and the huge stack of receipts that come with the car–even if those are just oil changes, it’s been on the road for a while. The seller says it recently had the crankshaft replaced; I’m wondering if they really mean camshaft as there were some cam wear issues with certain years of the 2.3 Ford engine. It’s said to start and run nicely, though, and some tune-up type work was completed this January, although it sounds like the car has largely sat since then.

When I googled the Frantz oil filter, I found it’s one of the remote filter conversions that utilizes a toilet paper roll as the filter media. I remember those from when I was a kid, looking at JC Whitney catalogs, but I had no idea they still existed. While this isn’t ever going to be a hugely valued classic, I do like it for the nostalgia points. Any of you have fond memories of Pintos besides me?


  1. anon

    Toilet roll oil filter? Sounds like a crappy idea.

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    • krash


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    • Mike

      I worked a couple of summers during high school for a local Conoco Service Station that had a full garage, my job was pumping gas at 52 cents a gallon, plus do oil changes. There was a local grocery store supply company that ran pick ups, and vans, and they would bring the trucks in for oil change and lube, well each one of them had the toilet paper oil filter, it was a pain to get it out of the sleeve, but the owner swore by them, he said that his dad ran them in all of the trucks from back in the 60’s and never had problems with them.
      I think I will stick to a Fram filter any day.

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  2. e55

    if I recall correctly, the larger glass meant that it was a hatchback, or in 1970’s Ford parlance, a “Runabout”.

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  3. Bobsmyuncle

    My memories revolve around being a passenger as I was many years away from driving age.

    My ‘cool’ aunt owned a pea green coloured one when I was a kid and that car took us on many fun excursions away from the parental powers.

    The car was a perpetual mess and I was often charged with cleaning it, payment was always agreed to be any found change.

    Years later it became clear that she had been dumping change onto the floor for me to ‘find’ LOL.

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  4. Birdman

    “Bobcats, Astres and Eagles” OH MY!

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  5. 64 bonneville

    I too, prefer the earlier nosed Pintos’. The big deal on the camshaft in the 2.3 liter 4 cylinder was the minimum amount of oil going to the #3 camshaft bearing. When I would do a timing belt replacement on one, I would open the oil hole more and chamfer the oil hole on the #3 bearing to get adequate oiling to the cam bearing. Just my way of helping folks get more life out of their vehicle. I have built up a number of 2.3 engines for mini stock and street racing, and opened them up to 2.8 liters on the older blocks. rebuilt in stock form with a bump in the cam and a turbo, scares the fire out of the rice burners. Some of us old dogs can teach these youngins’ a few tricks. BTW they make a cheap daily drive with about 25 mpg and 30+ on the highway.

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  6. sparkster

    I bought a 1971 Pinto for $280 dollars many years ago and tried to kill it. On one afternoon I hit a concrete block sticking out from the dirt in a field while doing donuts and cut the oil pan open. Drove it five miles home and welded it up. Heard the engine knocking after driving for 6 hours straight , open the hood and found the oil dip stick had fallen out and pissed most of the oil out of the engine. Refilled with oil and lived with the engine knock. Sold it for $800

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  7. jim s

    might make a good daily driver. wish it had the manual, i guess it could be converted. seen some of these racing scca it classes. interesting find.

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  8. DREW V.

    Have several fond memories of Pintos… Dated a girl for a cpl years that had a dark blue with white top Bobcat Sport with a manual crank back sunroof,The back seat folded down leaving more that enough room for two ppl to lie down in the back… My best friend had a bright yellow 74′ that we got drunk in many a time he ended up rolling it, Another friend built a street car outta one with a 351 Cleveland, tunnel ram, nitrous and a 4-spd with narrowed 9″rear, was a very wicked street machine. And lastly another friend how had an econo-altered Pinto sporting a 429 with auto, it was a 75 model but he blew a front tire oneday when we were at the track and went into the fence, tearing the fiberglass front cap off, rebuilt it using the rect headlamp front and it never looked as good after that…

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  9. Carl W French

    My ex had a new ’79 or ’80? wagon. I was always impressed driving it (4spd), It was truck like in it’s feel when driving it. Not fancy but durable feeling. Totally reliable. traded it in for an ’83 K car wagon (big mistake).

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    • Jay

      My grandfather also replaced his Pinto with a K-Car. The Pinto stayed in the family as he gave it to my mom.

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  10. Jay

    I learned to drive a manual transmission on my grandfather’s 1976 Pinto. This car had a cam shaft issue which I helped him repair in the back yard. We pulled the head off and sent it to the machine shop.

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  11. Jay

    I forgot to mention that my dad had a Bobcat wagon and my girlfriend had a 1971 Pinto. All were manual shift cars. Drove from Massachusetts to Minnesota in the Bobcat several times.

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  12. RoughDiamond

    I owned a ’74 “Spirit of America” Red, White and Blue Ford Pinto 3 door Runabout that I purchased from a local drag racer that lived across the street from my uncle. He had made it into a little hot rod. It had the 2.3L engine (with the oiling mods to #3 bearing that member “64 bonneville” mentioned), a different carb, bump stick. Headman header, 4 speed manual transmission and Thrush muffler. I had the hood custom painted which added an individual flair to the car. I miss the hell out of that car. It was dependable and so much fun to drive. It turned heads everywhere I went and it wasn’t until years later that I discovered I had been driving a gasoline bomb every time I hit the road.

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  13. krash

    One of my sisters bought the first year Pinto while a freshman in college in Massachusetts….The summer after she graduated she and a friend drove that car across the U.S, up the California coast, and back to Mass. across Canada….a week after her return, she packed it up and drove it back to Los Angeles and has remained there to this day……the only trouble she ever had with that car was the day it was stolen from her work place in 1982…never to be seen again.

    …..that one maize colored Pinto was absolutely bulletproof…

    (my other sister’s Ford Cortina, on the other hand, was a journey directly into the darkest recesses of Hell..).

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  14. Joe Howell

    I had a hand-me -down 100,000 mile 1972 4 speed wagon with a little rust that the dealer didn’t want in trade. Dad gave it to me and I drove it another 60,000 miles in all weather till rust made it unsafe :( Later I purchased a 16 year old, 16,000 mile 76 Bi-Centennial model with 2.3 and automatic. It was dog compared to the 72 which left big shoes to fill. Sold it to a buddy who drove it a few years. It would up becoming a drag car :)

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  15. Mr. TKD

    I see Pintos and I think of Bob Glidden’s pro stockers from the early seventies. How’d they get those big engines in them?

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