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Killer Patina? 1976 Ford Pinto Wagon

I went back on my word! I wasn’t going to use the “P” word in a title. I couldn’t help myself when I saw the seller’s description of his 1976 Ford Pinto “Squire” wagon. It just got away from me. OK, now that that’s out of the way let’s look at this Pinto wagon, with its “P” and all, and see what we have here. This Ford wagon is located in Gilroy, California, and is available, here on Facebook Marketplace for $3,500 though the seller states that he’s dropped the price to $1,200 due to DMV fees.

Normally, I wouldn’t give a Pinto, or a Vega for that matter, a second look. I bought and owned cars in the ’70s and those two chowder-heads seemed like a pair to avoid. Time, however, heals everything, so now it seems appropriate to consider cars like the Pinto and give them their just deserts. Ford sold 3.1 M Pintos between ’71 and ’80 for crying out loud, not a trivial number!

Killer patina? It sounds more like a euphemism for something that looks like a hunk ‘o $#!%; you can fill in the descriptor of your choice. This Pinto actually appears more cooked than anything, it obviously hasn’t been lounging under that carport for most of its life. Safe to say that the warm California sun has done its darndest to both the Bright Blue Metallic finish and the faux wood grain. The body panels are aligned and straight but it seems that rust has settled into the lower doors and fender legs – perhaps it’s not too serious yet. And with that thought, a further gander at the underside is probably in order. And while you’re at it, it would be helpful to know what that frame thingee protruding out from under the front bumper is.

As news to me, this Pinto is powered by a 100 net HP, 2.8-liter V6 engine. I did not know such an option was available for the littlest Ford in ’76 but it’s not something that I would have focused upon back then either. There is no engine image provided so I included a stock mock-up of what the seller claims to be a “strong running” powerplant. With 90K miles on its clock, this V6 may still have some good life left in it providing that some semblance of maintenance has been performed over the years. The only transmission choice with this optional engine was a three-speed automatic so that’s what’s in place.

As for the interior, it appears to be dirty and worn, though tough to tell for sure as the image isn’t clear. The driver’s seat and dash are showing age scars but the rest of it is fair enough. As is often the case, the backseat appears to have seen little use. My original radio quest continues and I’m happy to say that this Pinto still has its born-with Philco AM unit.

The seller states and asks, “needs lots of love but seriously when is the last time you saw one like this“? I’ll admit that I haven’t seen a Pinto wagon in years but there’s an obvious reason for that and I’ve never seen one that is this faded. So what, right? The seller further adds, “no low ball offers will trade for a nice work van only or cash“. But then he’s already low-balled himself with a price cut to $1,200. The whole “P” thing is lost on me and not enhanced by the fact that it’s being displayed on a Pinto. But hey, there’s a bottom for every seat and someone, perhaps a surfer dude, will see some value in this little two-door wagon, don’t you think?


  1. Avatar photo daniel wright

    I think they were towing this behind an RV. That is what the frame thing is under the front bumper.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Brian Devore

      Either that or it breaks down so much they mounted a permanent tow bar for the rollback..bar

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo Rick Vinson

      I think you’re right. My 78 Pinto has a similar bracket in the same place and still has the switch for the towing lights.

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo 64 Bonneville

    $1200 isn’t a bad price, but unless you are close enough to go get it, your cost will double having it transported any distance. 2.8 V-6 motor uses Bosch electrics in the distributor, somewhat hard to find, but otherwise pretty straight forward in maintenance. There are companies that make graphics for the wood grain, and some body work with a repaint along with the graphics being replaced would make a nice little driver. The bar setup on the front is so it could be owed behind a motorhome (RV)

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo David Skinner

      1974 was the last year for points in the 2.8, so this ’76 uses the first generation Ford electronic ignition.

      Like 3
    • Avatar photo Jerry

      $1,200 isnt a bad price “IF” the engine and trans run well and no leaks.
      Otherwise its a $700 car all day long.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Chip59

    Why bother to post this if you’re going to do nothing but hate on it?
    It’s irritating when the love flows for a rusted out VIN donor but a Pinto Squire that would make a nice entry level project for someone wanting to get their feet wet gets dragged.
    No, it’s not big block Mach 1 or a GTO, but you do a disservice to Barn Finds when you trash a subject that you obviously don’t care for.

    Like 25
    • Avatar photo Jim ODonnell Staff


      I think you got it wrong. Look at the last paragraph, I stated that there is a person for every seat and positively stated that perhaps someone will see value in this little two-door wagon.

      I do get chuffed checked when sellers seem to think that a worn-out “patined” look, somehow adds value. I would say that this seller probably figured that out, otherwise, why would he have dropped the price by $2,300? That’s a lot more than the DMV charges of $851, and a price point of $1,200 makes sense for what this car is.


      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Mike

        I thought the word chuffed was British for being “very pleased”.

        Like 1
      • Avatar photo Jim ODonnell Staff

        I meant “checked” for unpleased, not chuffed. Thx for pointing out my error.


        Like 1
      • Avatar photo doug smith

        I would appreciate pics of the engine compartment and the undercarriage.

        Like 0
      • Avatar photo kerry cooper

        I think you only pay that fee if it stays in Cali but not if it leaves the state. I might be wrong.

        Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Joe Machado

    Ship out of the gestapo state and save lots of money

    Like 11
  5. Avatar photo daniel wright

    This is the car our parents had as kids, Sure we wanted a Torino GT with a 429..But cars like the Pinto and Chevette were what we drove.
    It should be fixed up and restored as a monument to absolute malaise. Just something ridiculous to putter around in on the weekends.

    Like 10
    • Avatar photo JustPassinThru

      Absolutely. Age 22, broke and in Texas, on a temporary job, I came across a Pinto wagon just like this, a 1973. It wasn’t much, and it was almost as sun-scorched; but it was MINE, and it got me through three very-lean years in the early 1980s.

      And, truth to tell, it was not that bad. No, it wasn’t a road car. No, it wasn’t all that fun to drive. But small size did make it nimble and economical (relatively) and the large space behind the front seats, made it useful for everything from moving to road-camping.

      Mine, with a Cologne 2-liter four, manual, and no power steering, was infinitely more fun to drive than today’s Toyota Yaris, with completely-numb electric power steering, automatic, and safety padding and exploding pillows everywhere.

      Had I money and a place, I’d be on it.

      Like 5
  6. Avatar photo DrillnFill

    If it runs, $1200 is “eff-it” money. Like stated above, it’s cheap enough for someone new to the hobby to get their feet wet. Odds are it’s extremely likely you’ll be the only Pinto woodgrain wagon at the car show in a sea of Mustangs and Camaros.

    Like 4
  7. Avatar photo Vegaman Dan

    Price is a good one. If it were a Vega it would be $3-5k for the same condition. Both models had very usable cargo areas and are quite capable.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Robert Leischer

    Dont have the cars, I transplanted a 2000 engine in a Pinto ranchero I built years ago cracked a cylinder wall on #2 and that was the end on that engine, Still have the crankshaft with all new bearing 300 miles on it? wrapped in grease stored, Put another 2000 in it@ sold it, also have another transplant running in a 1967 Alpine with the transmission@ rear brakes out of a pinto wagon Stick Loved thoughs Engines easy to work on Bob Leischer in Wisconsin

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Sam61

    Strip the di-noc, do your own body work, Maaco paint job, 289 transplant and have fun!

    The heavy patina was likely caused by “garlic rain” in Gilroy as it is the garlic capitol.

    Like 3
  10. Avatar photo Bob_in_TN Member

    Just throwing out some round numbers:
    — A grand to purchase and a grand to get it home
    — We don’t have much info on mechanical condition, so let’s say a grand or two to get the mechanicals sorted out
    — Maybe a grand to get the interior looking acceptable
    — Then, if you could keep the rust repair/ woodgrain/ paint under five figures…

    … You would still not have that much in the car. And while you may not have a pristine show car at that point, you would have a nice enough car to be proud to take to Home Depot or to take the grandkids on a Sonic run. And when you take it to Cars & Coffee, be prepared to be a good listener as participants smile while regaling you with Pinto stories. Yes they may lust after the 69 Camaro parked next to you, but as Daniel points out, this was a common car of the day, so many of us had experience with them.

    Like 5
    • Avatar photo Fitz Member

      You’re spot on. Dolly it up a bit & enjoy it. Take it to Homer Depot, load weekend project supplies in it. Door ding? Who cares. Local show on a Saturday night. Get ready for questions, as EVERY damn body’s’ parents, friends etc had one. You be regaled with tales from “ back in the day”. Best of all, they will be told with smiles on their faces…As for the “matching numbers” crowd…they won’t like it, and they darn sure won’t understand why people walk past their “collector” car to look at your wagon. Enjoy it!

      Like 3
  11. Avatar photo Doug Smith

    Please supply pics of engine compartment and undercarriage .

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Jim ODonnell Staff

      None were provided with the listing.


      Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Rich

    My old man had a new 73 wagon identical to this, except it was the root beer brown color. He got rid of it with under 5K miles, as with the automatic it could not get above 35 mph when trying to get up the canyon (mountains) when returning home from Boulder, Co. The final straw was when a VW bug passed him one day, and the hippies flipped him the bird for being slow and in the way. I recall laughing my butt off. The highway was 2 lanes going up the canyon, right lane was for the slower vehicles. Of course my old man hated hippies and always refused to get in the “slow” lane to allow the others to pass. What a jerk, good times…BTW, this is still too much money for a car that was designed to be a disposable pos.

    Like 0
  13. Avatar photo robert gressard

    I love no respect cars. This one is great! I remember this being called The Country Squirt. Cheers Bob

    Like 3
  14. Avatar photo daniel wright

    Our Pinto was fire engine red. A neighbor knew we needed a car and told us we could have it if we dragged it out of his back yard what it had sat for some time. My dad got it running and drove it for a few years with minimal work. It had a four speed and plaid seats.

    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo ChipL

    Given the tow bar set up, I would double the miles on the odometer. Yes the engine was not running, but the wheels were rolling. That linkage would only be installed by someone who put lots of miles on the old Winnebago.

    Like 0
  16. Avatar photo Hollywood Collier

    1st thing i would wanna know is if they pulled out the drive shaft when they towed the car? Back in the day you couldnt pull an automatic over 35mph and not for very long either. Just curious since i live in Kentucky and never been to Cali.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo daniel wright

      Seems like that would be an extreme amount of work and crawling under the car for a tow vehicle So I seriously doubt they did. I had to take the drive shaft out of our Fairmont and it was a pain without air tools.

      Like 0
  17. Avatar photo Bruce

    These are a much smaller version of the Famed Chevy NOMAD. A two door wagon. Only the Vega and Pinto have done that since. I had one for a month when I was working in Dallas one summer. Got it from RENT A WRECK. I was not the fastest thing on the block but it sure was fun to drive. Nimble and easy on gas. I took it everywhere. It had the V-6 but someone had shoehorned in the Manual Transmission. Make it a lot more peppy to drive. That engine is a good base and there are many ways of getting more power out of it. I really liked the Pinto Wagon I drove. Hell even the air-conditioning worked on that toy car. And it was a very hot July and August. It may have been designed to be a poor mans car and disposable but those guys at Ford worked hard to make it the best car they could with more than a little success. Would be a great grocery and go to the mall car today.

    Like 1
  18. Avatar photo Sheldon Kirschbaum

    I had a new 4cyl model. Never a problem in 100,000 miles except I’m 6’2” and 2 hours driving gave me leg cramps.

    Like 0
  19. Avatar photo david r

    yeah they sold 3.1 million of them and there are eleven that still run. 70s detroit junk.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo karl

      Have you seen many 70s Asian cars lately,they sold a bunch during the gas crunch , and most dissolved when they got wet.

      Like 2
    • Avatar photo Howebrad460 Member

      I had both 70s detroit and 70s Japanese cars. Both had pluses. Imports ran fantastic but material quality in terms of fabrics, plastics, and of course sheet metal was considerably inferior to the American cars. 3 or 4 years in an import back then and the seats would be shot, and the body pretty much rotted out.

      Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Stuart Lenzke

    Bought a white ’76 Pinto wagon at a local car auction in 1984 for $325. Same driveline: 2.8 V-6 automatic. Even drove it to Wisconsin and back from Minot, ND. Best mpg was 25 highway. The same as my tired 305 powered ’91 Custom Cruiser still gets. The Pinto bean felt quite snappy as a local driver, but the lack of A/C caused it to be replaced by a low mile ex-GSA ’76 Torino wagon that I still own. A 5spd in the Pinto would’ve been fun….It also struck me how low you sit/sat in Ford products of that era. My ’78 Town Car, the Pinto, Torino, and the ’76 Granada sedan I bought this summer all made/make you feel like you’re sitting on the floor looking out of a gun turret observation slot. My buddy’s “78 Mark V strikes me the same way.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Howebrad460 Member

      You still in Minot? That’s where I’m from…

      Like 0
  21. Avatar photo George Louis

    I would like to know when was the last time this Pony was driven. Do you think it will make one lap around he Santa Anita race track?

    Like 0
  22. Avatar photo Nah

    “Trade for a work van”? I’d say you have one already! Ladder racks would look great over that “patina”.

    Like 0

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