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Needs Decals: Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon

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All too often the Ford Pinto pops up for sale in its many forms and colors, but it’s usually lacking a critical feature for yours truly: a manual transmission. Maybe I just have bad luck, but I don’t find them with more than two pedals all that often. Fortunately, this 1977 example here on eBay hits all the right notes: a manual transmission-equipped Cruising Wagon! It doesn’t get much better.

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The Cruising Wagon is often a fan favorite for its bold graphics and porthole windows. Although this Pinto is missing the former, I’m sure you can find a kit to re-apply those snazzy stripes and colors. More importantly, despite its paint issues, the interior of this Cruising Wagon looks to be in excellent condition with a rare-to-find manual transmission. If you didn’t know this interior belonged to a Pinto, it might be called downright sporting.

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Of course, with just a 2.3L four-cylinder under the hood, you’ll need all the acceleration help you can get. The Cruising Wagon was aptly named, since it certainly wasn’t about outright speed. No, it was about loading up some friends and surfboards, maybe a cooler or two – and heading to the beach. I think of the Cruising Wagon as the precursor to our bland crossover vehicle segment: added utility in a car-based platform. The Pinto simply oozes character by comparison to a Ford Edge.

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The seller was so kind to include in his listing a picture of what his Cruising Wagon could look like once you put some work into the cosmetics. No word on why they disappeared off of his example, but the body is said to be rust-free and the 45,000 miles believed to be genuine (or close to it, based on the limited pedal pad wear he noted). The interior was re-done not too long ago, but the seller alludes to some additional bodywork needs that the next owner will need to tackle – could it be you?


  1. SunbeamerStu

    Truly horrible car.

    But it does make me smile.

    Nostalgia. Funny stuff.

    Now excuse me while I go get my polyester shirt and puka shells.

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  2. Joe

    Wonder what happened to the original, front amber lenses? Is it in primer with some bondo?

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    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Joe; at least until 1978, there were still a few states that required front park lite lenses to be clear/white/frosted. In those situations, Yellow [orange] tinted bulbs were used to comply with Federal MVSS regulations.

      While in college in the 70s, I worked for Bethesda Ford, in Bethesda, MD. I was the new car prep mechanic and drove dozen’s of Pintos and other FOMOCO vehicles. We only had a few of the porthole cruisers come thru the dealership, and all were shipped by Ford, not cars ordered for specific people.

      Several came thru with no interior behind the doors, just the special graphics and portholes. Ford also offered the same vehicle, without portholes or graphics, as a small utility vehicle. These were offered to the Postal Service too, both for private RFD carrier owned cars, and as a vehicle used to pick up mail from mail boxes on street corners. As I remember, since the mail pickup cars were not used for deliveries, they had left hand drive.

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  3. roger

    Wish I could find a pinto wagon.
    I passed my drivers test in borrowed 1973 pinto wagon.
    Nice !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Wayne Thomas

    EcoBoost swap and acceleration problem solved!

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    • racer99

      Had the same thought — only problem would be what else you’d have to upgrade to match the power increase (trans, rear end, tires, brakes ………). Oh, and adding a/c while you’re at it would be nice as well. Would be sooooo tempting to do this as a resto-mod.

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    • Scott Reska

      Swap the front clip off of a Mustang II, doors too, install the faux scoop behind the doors. And just keep going from there…

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    • MikeK

      I was thinking about an SVO turbo swap.

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  5. Blyndgesser

    I’d settle for swapping in a slightly hotter 2.8 Cologne v6.

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  6. Paul

    When I was looking through your posts from the beginning, which I will go back to today, there was one and my heart sank. I have always had a soft spot for these cruising Pinto’s. Just wish the timing was better. Thanks for the post and placing a smile on my face….

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  7. Dan

    Is it for sale?

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  8. DAN

    my 1st car was a 71 pinto/auto trans
    that was 35 years ago….pintos are solid cars, they still use the front suspension in many different forms,race cars, street rods etc

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  9. Bruce Best

    I had a rent a wreck that was a pinto wagon but with both the manual transmission and the V-6. For it’s day it was a fun car and sort of like a Chevrolet Nomad that shrunk in the wash. Both were two door wagons and that is a really rare body style and both were very functional cars.

    I have been looking for a V6 manual wagon for some time but I think that they may be all gone by now. Sad.

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  10. Jim

    I learned to drive a stick in a Pinto so I can’t be too critical.

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  11. JimA

    A 302 will just about drop in but you’ll need to change the trans, drive shaft and rear end either all at once or one at a time.

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    • Alberto Massarottoo

      V8 installs are never that simple. Usually, people undertake those completely blind to the complexity of the build and the car ends up in the scrap yard. Few know how to do that properly.

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    • HeadMaster1

      JimA the 74-80 Pinto will accept a 302 as long as it has a mustang II oil pan/pick up. The earlier Pinto’s aren’t as easy. The extra weight of the V8 will also change the balance of the car. Pinto’s get a bad rap, but they had/have one of the very best front suspension brake designs of the day. Every time a “mustang II” front end is adapted to a hotrod, that’s really a PINTO front end. Vented disk brakes, rack n pinion steering, those were race car parts in the early 70’s……

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  12. HeadMaster1

    A turbo 2.3 from T-bird / XR4Ti / SVO will bolt right in and look way better than the plastic-formed Eco-Boost……

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  13. Keruth

    SHO, T-9, Nine inch rear——BAM! Pick a bright color, no silver please.

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  14. DavidP

    Pintos were my first and second cars, got me through college. I don’t remember much about them, but I do remember driving one day and the gear shift came out of the transmission. I discovered that the manual gearshift actually pivoted in a threaded plastic piece that screws into the top of the transmission, and the threads had stripped.

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  15. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    As I mentioned earlier, I worked for a Ford dealer as a new car prep mechanic. As my parent’s home was close by, I often drove the new cars home to make sure they were ready.

    One time I drove a 1.6 liter, 4-speed, Pinto home, and about a block from the dealer location, the engine began running on only 2 cylinders, and making a huge racket. The camshaft had broken in two. I almost got fired for destroying an engine, until a few days later Ford sent out a message about 1.6 engines with defective camshafts that would shear in half at the center camshaft support.

    Shortly after that announcement, Ford shipped new camshafts to us, along with a center cam support to provide better oiling. I got plenty of overtime installing new camshafts that week, because due to the gas crisis, everyone wanted the little 1.6 engine! One of the salesmen actually sold & delivered cars waiting for the new cams, then asked the owners to return the cars for the update!

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