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Jade Time Capsule: 1979 Ford Pinto

1979 Ford Pinto Front Corner

UPDATE 1/12/11 – The seller of this Pinto has found out more about the cars history and it turns out that it was a real barn find! Take a look at the updated listing.

It seems that we have come across several low mileage Pintos and Vegas lately. This has us asking why these little economy cars were ever stashed away and preserved. Perhaps their performance was so disappointing that their owners couldn’t bear to drive another mile or the more likely reason could be that their owners were scared that the fuel tank might blow at any moment. Either way they are starting to become collectible today, especially ones in like new condition such as this example. This 1979 Ford Pinto only has 438 miles on it and can be found here on eBay with a current bid of $5,300 with the reserve unmet.

1979 Ford Pinto Front

The Pinto wasn’t know for its great styling or outstanding performance, but somehow it has achieved collector status and good ones are starting to fetch two to three times what they sold for new.

1979 Ford Pinto Interior

If you want to go for a trip back to the 1970s just take a seat in this Pinto. It truly is a time machine. The interior looks as good as new with no visible wear on the seats and and no cracks in the dash. The green needles on the gauges add a nice touch.

1979 Ford Pinto Engine

The only weak point in this car is its original 2.3L inline four. While the engine is in great running condition, the 2.3L isn’t known for being a real power house. Then again none of the Pinto engine options are. The only higher power option available in the Pinto was the 2.8L 6-cylinder, which only produced 102 hp or about 14 hp more then this 2.3L. The four speed manual transmission would help with the fun factor though.

1979 Ford Pinto Rear Corner

This Pinto has exchanged hands a few times over the years, which makes following the car’s history rather difficult. We doubt anyone would spend the kind of money needed to restore this Pinto to its current condition, so we feel fairly confident that the mileage is correct. This could make a fun commuter car for someone, just try to not get rear ended!


  1. John Marshall

    I notice the Pinto is an Oklahoma car. That means the “rust” factor will not be bad. If I had room in my driveway for another car I would look into this Pinto, but I would rather stay married to my wife than have another car in the driveway but divorced.

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  2. DJS

    I had one a 1973 been there done that ran good but went driving to better cars it was fun and got me through collage traded it in on a new Torino GT I wish I still had that one ,

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  3. John Cargill

    The explosion thing was short lived as a recall took care of most of the problem. As for longevity the Postal Service kept Pintos in service well into the 80’s. The larger 2.8 engine available from about 1974 on was a v6 not a four speed. By the way they didn’t handle badly by the standards of the time.

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  4. billybob

    I had a 80 Pinto wagon and traded it for a 79 ford f150. There is no money in these cars . 1000$ even trade. They r not worth much , but fun to own I guess. Nice car thou. :-)

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  5. Keith

    I need some information about Pintos in general. But i need it in print from a quotable source (ford would be nice) What rear axle was standard. And how many turns lock to lock with a manual, and a power rack. Anybody know where i might get this info ? Thanks.

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  6. Todd Fitch

    Wow that looks Amazing!! Now why can’t someone find a Same year Ford Fiesta in the Same condition hiding in a garage somewhere?

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    • Shelli Anne

      I had a 1980 Pinto I bought new, the Fiesta was a much better built and designed car. The quality on the Canadian built Pinto was absolutely dismal ,the German built Fiesta was far better built. With the 2.3 four I never got more than 28 mpg on a long trip, the Fiesta would get 38-40 mpg on a long trip. I wish I had spent the extra $500. and bought the Fiesta instead of the Pinto. Drove the Pinto for 10+ years and hated it 10+ years ! Had zero re-sale, had to drive my money out of it.

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  7. Terry

    I hd the Mercury version of this model year. Not much power but with the 4 speed and hand brake it was fun to play around spinning round in circles in the snow.

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  8. james e fox

    A couple of you talked about the weak 2.3. Actually the eng was well built and there are ,or were many high performance mods for it. I know that small block chev. 1.94 in intake valves can be used. If it’s horse power you want. The same basic 2.3 came in the late 80’s thunderbird turbo coupes. in ’88 it was rated at right at 200 hp. I have one in a small 85 ranger and it is a blast. All the power you want and can be beefed up to 350 hp and more without to much money or trouble. My truck is making about 250 right now, and gets 29 mpg anytime.

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  9. kurt

    The ’79-’80 models were the last of the Pinto line; if you look at the front turn signal lenses, they are the same ones as used on the ’78 Ford Fairmont. “79 was the last year for the V-6. The 2.3 has a lot of potential and went on to power many other Fords, including the Ranger (where it was the middle-sized engine; the 2.0 was smaller). That name is correct, the color was called “Dark Jade Metallic.”

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  10. john

    keith, I don’t know if they are available online, but go to your local library and see if they have copies of “Road Test” magazine on microfiche. Great little magazine at the time (late 70’s) that listed all the specs for each car they tested. Better still, unlike Road & Track, they tested cars most of us could actually afford like Pintos and Fiestas. For those of us who went showroom stock racing, it was a great source to figure out what car to buy. Had a ’79 Fiesta base model myself and would LOVE to have another one…

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  11. Keith

    John,I am tech at the local dirt track. And the mini stocks are my challenge. I am dealing with Pintos, Mustangs and Celicas mostly.Thanks for the tip. Showroom stock ? That sounds fun !

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  12. Kelly in Oklahoma

    This post is in reply to the guy wanting pinto information. Best place for that is FordPinto.com. Yea i know kinda funny but these cars do have a small and dedicated group of fans. My first car was a 78 Pinto and I had way too much fun with it. And there are several options out there to increase power. What really needs to be considered is that these cars are light and the steering is actually very responsive even in manual steering cars (when rolling at least). I sold my Pinto several years back and have regretted it since. Fuel economy was good and it sure is getting to be a rare sight to see one still on the road.

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  13. Keith

    Thanks Kelly.

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  14. Dave

    I was surprised to see my car here! What an honor! I would like to add that Jade is still for sale. I spoke with a few collectors who have paid low teens for similar low mileage cars in the recent past. I will be trying eBay again, then maybe on to Mecum Auctions.

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  15. Barn Finds

    Good luck with the sale Dave!

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  16. Dave

    Hey Barn Finds!I just found out that Jade truly was a barn find in 1999. I have her back up on Ebay and was contacted by a fellow who had some early history on the car. I stand corrected about the original owner dying after buying the car in 1979. This fellow heard of a fellow Ford employee with a 100 mile Pinto for sale. He went to the fellows property and looked at this car in a barn where it sat for 20 years! He said it had a lot of dust on it, identified a few uniquenesses about the car but did not buy it because he did not have a place to garage it, the only way he would keep it. It had 100 some odd miles on it when he saw it and I have a DMV record from Oct. 1999 with a certified odometer reading of 00134 miles.It was awesome talking to someone who could substantiate the history of the car from the first owner, elevating Jade to true ‘Barn Find, status!

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  17. Barn Finds

    Thanks for letting us know Dave! That always feels good to dig up more history on a car. We have updated the post with a link to your new listing.

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  18. Foxy

    All that Pinto needs is the 2.3 turbo eng and five spd, I got out of a ’88 Tbird a while back.190 HP clean car.

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  19. J. Pickett

    All Ford 2.3 fours from 70’s to 90’s were same architecture. Plenty of speed equipment avail. I’ve seen a Tbird turbo turn 10’s on the strip. plenty of potential here but at this mileage, remember it’s only original once. I’d drive it sparingly as is.

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  20. Foxy

    @J. Pickett, I have a tbird 2.3 in a first gen. ranger long bed. the 2.3 is a bulletproof motor. I’m only pushing 15 lbs of boost it is about 200 hp with the exhaust mods. I still can’t hardly get it to hook up. it is a great rush when that turbo spins u

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  21. J. Pickett

    That’s the way to go, no mods that can’t be undone, but a great driver in the meantime. Just pull the orig. motor and trans and put in whatever moded 4 banger you want. Give some rice rockets a surprise.

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  22. Kenneth

    I sold a 1974 5 years ago with 26k orig miles. I bought it in 2000 for $1100 with 15k miles. I tried to sell it with the 26k for $2300, for a full year,…including a full history eBay ad with all the original Docs. No one bit… I guess suddenly they want the car? It was not all that. Turtle Slow. It felt like sitting in a bath tub. The trunk was tiny, almost useless. The back seat was a bitch to get in and out of…poor design. The doors were too heavy and long for such a small car. I loved the attention, people seeing a as-new Pinto, something they have not seen in decades. Lots of stories, everyone once had one. I cannot imagine paying over 2 grand for one in any kind of condition, but if someone has a disposable income? Nostalgic?…but nah… they are not a bad-car, just not a car worth investing in.

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  23. J. Pickett

    When I started in the car business in the early 70’s we used to say there’s an ass for every seat. I believe that such a car as the one you describe, or this one is not only a low budget way into the collector hobby, but definitely savable for the pure enjoyment of the attention you described to eloquently. Finally and most importantly. We need to preserve the average automobile as historical evidence and examples not only of what was available at the time but also what people bought. Well over a million Pintos.

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  24. J. Pickett

    If you don’t agree with the above reasons they make great Pro Street Cars.

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  25. Dave

    Actually. 3.3 million Pinto’s sold in their 10 year run from 1971-1980! When you compare that 10 year period and number of drivers to any other popular car like Taurus, Pinto’s didn’t do too bad.

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  26. J. Pickett

    I once read in a trade paper that the United States Postal Service hung onto their Pintos as long as they could do to their simplicity or repair and reliability along with price and usefulness.

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  27. Danny Long

    I have a 1979 pinto/pony. Its hard to find parts to restore it. Any ideas?

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  28. R. Rollins

    Sorry star command. After reading your assessment of Ford’s 2.3 4 cylinder, I have to provide my opinion. This particular design was the first American engine to use metric specifications & was built in Ford’s Lima Ohio, engine plant (explaining why it was commonly referred to as a Lima engine.) This engine was dang near bulletproof in every application (although I would have shied away from the Turbo version, as this type of exotica would frighten my bank account). I owned an 80 Mustang (plain jane model) & this particular engine had plenty of power, both low end & cruising at highway speeds. In the small town in which I spent my formative years, I whiled away many an evening hanging out at the local burger establishment, where I often observed (at a safe distance) a group of older teens/early 20’s males, engaging in beer guzzling, pot smoking, & other slightly illegal behavior, including 1 particular individual who owned either a 1979 or 1980, bone stock, plain jane, white Ford Mustang notchback sedan, with a manual transmission. I was in awe at the number of times, I witnessed him (I’m assuming in a drunken/high stupor) rev that darn Mustang up to 6000 plus RPM’s & dump the clutch, doing a quite respectable burnout, while leaving the parking lot. I often wondered how that car withstood that perpetual abuse, yet I witnessed this act at least 300 times (probably a conservative estimate.) Over the years, this Mustang began to take on an appearance as if it had turned many laps at the Darlington Speedway, but it continued to run without fail. Years later, I observed this Mustang destroyed in a rollover accident, but I’m willing to bet that the engine was yanked & put into another vehicle to live another day. Bulletproof!!!

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    • Karo

      Those base Fox Mustangs were popular in their early years. The 2.3 was not sexy but it was solid.

      Like 1

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