Lots Of Orange: One-Owner 1978 Ford Pinto

Did we ever confirm that nothing rhymes with orange? Not one word in the entire English language rhymes with orange? Not one Barn Finds reader can think of a word that rhymes with orange?! (in my best Treasure of the Sierra Madre “We don’t need no badges” voice) If there is that one elusive rhyming word, it could not be more useful than it would be right now as we check out this overly-orange 1978 Ford Pinto. This one can be found here on craigslist for $4,000 in Santee, California which is right next to – are you ready? – Orange County. Orange you glad that Pat L. sent in this tip? We are, thanks, Pat!

Did you think of a word that rhymes with orange yet? I didn’t think so. I wish that this car had the original wheels which at least had a small possibility of being orange-painted steel wheels with dog dish hub caps. I’m not a fan of the current wheels but that’s just me. There is some off-orange (is that a term?) color on the headlight surrounds but that could be due to fading of dissimilar materials.

The mid-century-modern-home-sized rear bumper even has a giant orange insert that looks like it’s in perfect condition. The seller says that this orange Pinto is in overall good condition and it sure looks better than that to me but it’s hard to tell from photos. Speaking of that, out of 21 photos there isn’t one engine photo. Sigh… I DON’T HAVE TO SHOW YOU NO STINKIN’ ENGINE PHOTOS! Ok, maybe they forgot, but there are no photos of the rear compartment or one with the rear hatch open, either, so maybe they were temporarily sight-impaired by the orange overload.

Orange carpet and orange plaid seats would have been my top choice here, as would have been a 4-speed manual transmission. But, it is what it is, know’m sayin’, as they say in East Orange, New Jersey. The seats look pretty fancy for a Pinto but the front seats will need a little work. That shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, any good upholstery shop should be able to sweeten this ripe little orange interior again in no time.

Since there is no engine photo I’ll show you the almost-perfect-looking rear seats and (Caution: sunglasses needed) the orange headliner! I know, that’s bright! The unseen engine is the famous 2.3L inline-four with 88 hp. The automatic transmission makes it one second slower to 60 mph than a 4-speed car, but sometimes it’s better to cruise along in an all-orange car than to speed through life in anything else. Is this one too orange for you or are there others out there who like orange cars?


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  1. Howard A Member

    Let’s get this out of the way 1st thing, did you all know, these were subject to investigation after exploding when hit from the rear by a Mack truck travelling 100 mph pulling a loaded gas tanker. That’s about how silly it was. Pinto was a good car, and glass hatch backs were the best. While I’m no fan of belt driven motors, with a simple belt change( which should be done BEFORE it strands you) people put a lot of miles on these. Great find.

    Like 12
    • CCFisher

      Did you know that Ford was well aware that bolts on the differential could puncture the fuel tank in a moderate rear-end collision, assigned a value to the expected injury and death claims, compared it to the cost of fitting a shield to the Pinto, and decided not to install the shield because the lawsuits would cost less? They even had the courtesy to document all of this for the courts.

      $11 per car in shielding would have prevented injuries and deaths, and Ford declined. That’s not silly, that’s shameful.

      Like 12
      • JoeNYWF64

        Didn’t most cars have the same bolts & gas tank location back then? I don’t get it.
        Ironically, the pinto’s gas tank top is NOT the floor of the trunk as it is on mustang, falcoon & other fords back then.

  2. Flmikey

    I totaled out a Pinto back on’79 that was identical to this car…walked away without a scratch and it didn’t blow up…went out and bought another one the next week…these were great cars…and a word that rhymes with orange is doorhinge…well, maybe that’s two words, but close enough…

    Like 9
    • CCFisher

      Ford had applied a fix by 1979.

      Like 5
      • PSAutomobilist

        The hazard was actually solved with the 5 mph rear bumper of 1974. Or hold out for a wagon which never had an issue. Hysterics aside, it was a decent car that went a lot of miles with little trouble- provided you did not stop ON the highway to see if your gas cap was in place.

        Like 2
  3. Taylor W

    Nice car, the door hinges look good. Thats it! Door hinge rhymes with orange.

    Like 5
  4. Paul

    Howard we all know Pinto was junk for many reasons as I stated before…you may not have had excess to the internal Ford documents….it was well know within Ford that this car was dangerous…FMC simply ran numbers and decided that the amount of possible deaths would not weigh out the repair cost…..we where wrong…stop sticking up for these junk cars. No disrespect I believe you just don’t know the truth about them. They all should be crushed! These cars where bad EVEN for the time.

    Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      I guess I asked for it, and it’s cool, you can have an opinion, even, as far as I’m concerned, and the other 3 million people that made it home safely, it’s not accurate. I’m just a regular guy, whose dad bought and sold Pintos as a side line, and I saw a lot of Pintos.The Pinto had big shoes to fill. Americans were used to BIG cars, and many, possibly like yourself, held a grudge against the Pinto, how dare you replace my LTD with this! Millions of people racked up BILLIONS of miles with these, how can you say they were junk? I couldn’t care less about “internal documents”. As a regular consumer, I thought the Pinto was an ok car, ESPECIALLY for the times. Were you dere, Charley?

      Like 8
      • Paul

        If the manufacturer says they are junk, that says a bit more then I guy selling used cars to make a few bucks.
        The plant that built this car was year after year Fords lowest quality plant…you don’t know who I am, however I Love the Ford motor company ….if you had been there at the assembly plant at that time with other employees and contractors you never would want ride in one of these or let you children ride in one, and I am not even talking about the tank rupture debacle!

        I have to laugh when people say that these cars were dependable cars, because I know for a fact that they were not engineered or assembled to be dependable.

        After 40,000 miles they burned and leaked more oil then the Exxon Valdez. Again nothing wrong with liking any particular model car…..I just believe you may have forgotten how unreliable these cars really are compared to other cars built by Ford at the same time.
        However there is one car that is even worse…
        the 74 – 78 Mustang II is actually more unreliable then the Pinto was for years 74 -78.

        Anyway Howard I do appreciate your opinion and I enjoy barn finds and your comments…I really hope that I am not offending you!
        I just feel it’s my duty to warn perspective buyers to stay away from Pintos and Mustang II’s

        Like 2
      • BeeMoe

        Howard A., thank you for getting “couldn’t care less” right. Our poor uneducated youth seem to think it’s “I could care less.”

        Like 3
  5. Paul

    Flmikey consider your self blessed! These cars where definitely more dangerous then most if not all 79 model year cars.
    Also a lightning bug on a direct hit could most likely total these cars!!

    Like 1
    • Boatman Member

      Paul, what relation are you to Ralph Nader?

      Like 2
      • Paul

        Ha, no relation….just wouldn’t want any of my family members to be caught dead in a Pinto…. and I am not even considering the embarrassment that they would face from driving or riding in something that hideous.

        All kidding aside, I just know way too much about these cars to appreciate anything about them.

  6. Fahrvergnugen Farhvergnugen Member

    well, there IS blancmange, which for the uninitiated is somewhat apt, being it is a “…sweet opaque gelatinous dessert made with cornstarch and milk.”

    Like 1
    • Brent

      Blancmange is a French word meaning ‘white’ ‘food’. So to get picky it doesn’t rhyme in English.

  7. dirtyharry

    The only “beef” anyone seems to have is over the fuel tank, which was eventually fixed with a shield. So fix the dam gas tank and drive on. Now it is just as dangerous as all the other little crap boxes on the road. Apparently, these little buggers are otherwise bullet proof. I always thought it was an ugly stink bug, not worthy of a second look. In fact, my high school buddy, who got in trouble with his 396 Camaro, was punished for a full year and forced to drive the family Pinto, while the 396- 4 speed Camaro sat on jack stands.

    Like 10
  8. rush2liberty

    How about eating a bowl of nice warm orange porridge in your new Pinto. That sounds like it rhymes.

    Like 1
    • Brent

      Porridge is what is known as a ‘half rhyme’ to orange. ‘Sporange’, having to do with spores, if pronounced incorrectly is as near as the English language will get to rhyming. The wheels/color combo on this Pinto make it a real eye catcher.I like it.

      Like 3
  9. Little_Cars

    Regarding the original wheels. Pintos/Bobcats never had body color steel wheels. If I recollect correctly, in this production year the wheelcovers (not dog dish hubcaps) could have their centers painted body color. Same wheelcover used from the beginning but with a small round center crest added clumsily to the middle over the body color. The majority of these last Pintos would have the nice fax mag wheels shared with the Mustang, Bobcat (and Capri before Fox?). Little baby Magnum 500s.

    Like 3
  10. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    The gas tank issue always comes up concerning the Pinto, along with general comments that they are all junk. Trite. Plenty of people got good use out of the over 3 million built. I’m glad when I see one which has survived four-plus decades.

    We look at the $11 comment and shake our heads, it seems like an obvious poor decision. But if one is familiar with this sort of situation, it isn’t that clear. Let me briefly explain.

    I used to do risk analysis in another industry. It is done with economics, cold hard numbers. $11 in 1970 is $73 today. $73 over 3 million cars is over $200 million. Do you think an automotive manufacturer when faced with this sort of decision today would be interested in saving this amount of money? Of course they would. So the decision becomes one of economics. These sorts of decisions are made every day in many industries. Unfortunately this one went wrong.

    Here is a simple example which might explain the general issue. We’ve all seen road guard rails which have been breached in a crash, perhaps by a semi. Why aren’t they all six feet tall concrete Jersey barriers, which would stand up to anything? Cost, of course. So a decision is has to be made: no guard rail (too risky), big Jersey barrier (too expensive), or something in between — which is what we have.

    Another example: it’s risky out there on the highway, isn’t it? You know, we could drive automotive deaths down to near zero. How? If we all drove NASCAR cars. How many people do you think would be interested in that?

    Like 10
    • RayT Member

      Actually, Bob, I would be interested in driving a NASCAR car! Preferably, Smokey Yunick’s Chevelle, or maybe one of Junior Johnson’s Fords. If I had to go newer, perhaps a Kevin Harvick-model Fusion. A Fusion with a biggish V8 and two doors would do just fine.

      Seriously, I know what you mean. After a lifetime of driving many “unsafe” or semi-safe cars — I survived them all, BTW — I look askance on people who complain about vehicle safety beyond the basics, such as good seat belts and having all mechanical systems in good order. There will always be something bigger or harder to collide with. An attentive, skilled driver is always the Number One safety feature in my book.

      I’m not terribly smitten with Pintos (or Vegas, or any of the Detroit cheapies from that era), but have driven many and my criticisms have nothing to do with potential safety hazards. When you’ve driven a Wartburg (yes, I really did) or Fiat Nuova 500, a Pinto feels rock-solid….

      I remember seeing a Pinto that was stuffed full of hi-po 289 V8 and 4-speed transmission. Certainly not America’s Economy Champ, but I’d dig owning it. This particular car isn’t for me, but I sure hope someone who will care for it and enjoy it scoops it up!

      Like 2
  11. Mike D

    Orange you glad you posted this?

    Like 4
  12. Rob

    The color and the wheels are begging for a push bar, a big “01” in the door, a CB antenna, stars and bars on the roof, and a goofy sheriff chasing it in a white Gremlin.

    Like 2
  13. George Charnie Jr

    In the fall of 1976, My father thought the VW I was driving wasn’t safe. I was a junior in High School. My father and me went to order me a new Ford. All I wanted was a Maverick with a 302 and a 4 speed. The dealer told us Ford quit building Mavericks with 4 speeds. So we ended up ordering a 1977 Pinto, Orange, 2300cc 4 with a 4 speed, “Pumpkin” plaid interior, with factory Ford Rally wheels. When the car came in, I asked the Dealer to install a “GT stripe” (skinny, fat, skinny) on the rocker panels. They put a stripe on the mid bottom section of the door that read: “Pinto”. It was hideous. The car served my family very well. My father previously had purchased the first Pinto (red hatch 4 speed 1600cc) from the dealer as well as a 72, 75 (Mustang/Pinto) and a 76. all for his kids. We never blew up in the Pinto’s. Butt, I wish I still had that VW !

    Like 1
  14. Kevin Standing

    Is this colour “Grabber Orange?”

    Like 1
  15. Don T.

    I remember that rear seat with the transmission/driveshaft hump coming straight up the middle of the seat. And that very uncomfortable experience of trying to get three people in the back seat.

  16. 433jeff

    Door-hinge, I almost liked it

  17. Stevieg Member

    I like these too. As a kid driving clapped out beaters, these were just as bad as anything else I drove back then. But the Pintos I drove back then always started. I can’t say that about all of the junk I drove then lol.
    My biggest issue with them is the shifter on the stick shift ones. The shifter screwed right into the transmission, & when the threads were out, that top loader shifter became useless. Mine was stuck in second for a very long time lol.

  18. Mike

    This Pinto would fit in PERFECTLY with my Allis Chalmers tractors! I don’t care about all the exploding gas tank bs either. I feel safer driving ANY of my square body GM pickups (dual “side saddle” tanks on all of them!) than I do in any vehicle built today.

  19. David Skinner

    That center console is not a Pinto part- Looks a lot like the one in the Mustang II, but the front comes up too high and has a clock mount. The bright finish screws and large washers are another cue it as been modified to fit…

    I’m thinking it’s out of a Corolla or B210, but I’m not sure.

    Like 1

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