One Owner: 1974 Ford Pinto Station Wagon

Whether you love them or whether you hate them, the simple fact is that the Ford Pinto was a sales success that Ford of America was in desperate need of at that time in its history. Today, there is still an enthusiastic band of people that love and cherish their Pintos, and more than a few people who would like to own one of these interesting little cars today. If you are one of those people, then this one-owner 1974 Pinto Station Wagon is a car that is worth a serious look. It is located in Riverside, California, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $3,800 for the car, and I really have to thank Barn Finder Pat L for referring it through to us.

There are plenty of people who will focus on the failings of the Pinto, but I prefer to focus on the car’s “near miss”  status. The fact was that when the proposal for the Pinto was presented to Henry Ford II, he was totally opposed to its development and production. However, the hard-sell on the car from Lee Iacocca eventually turned the tide, and the Pinto finally went into production in 1971. In its 10-year production life, Pinto (and Mercury Bobcat) sales exceeded 3,000,000 cars, which justified Iacocca’s faith. This wagon is finished in Wind Blue and features woodgrain along its flanks. The car is said to be free of rust, but decades of exposure to the California sun have taken their toll on the woodgrain. Having said that, I don’t see any reason why the exterior of the car couldn’t be restored, especially considering that there is nothing missing and that the moldings surrounding the woodgrain appear to be free of physical damage. There are a few dings and marks that will need to be addressed, but the car certainly isn’t beyond help.

There’s a bit of work required to return the Pinto’s interior to its best, but I’m actually surprised by how well the interior has survived. The front seats will need new covers, the rear seat has a couple of seam separations, and the carpet will need to be replaced. The rest of the interior doesn’t look that bad and would respond to a deep clean. The owner obviously knew what they wanted when they ordered the car because it comes fitted with air conditioning and an AM/FM radio/cassette player, making for a fairly comfortable environment.

There are no engine photos, but we do know that the Pinto features its original (and optional) 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission, and power brakes. With 82hp on tap, performance could best be described as adequate, but certainly acceptable for a small car of this type. It appears that the Pinto is in generally good mechanical health, with the only issue being a leak from a fuel line. It would seem that with this addressed, the car could be driven and enjoyed as it is.

The Pinto is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the essentially disposable nature of the car has seen the vast majority of the original 3,000,000 vehicles find their way to the crusher when their useful life had ended. This one has the potential to be a pretty little car if restored. Some people would wonder why you should bother, but the simple fact is that most cars that seem boring and mundane when new will attract their share of attention if they appear all bright and shiny decades later. It is certainly something to consider.

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Comments

  1. Miguel

    Put me down in the category of loving Pintos.

    I would buy every one of them if Mexico had any.

    Like 15
  2. Ken

    The gas cap is on the side. Safety feature!

    • Miguel

      All Pintos had the gas cap on the side.

      Like 5
  3. Tom c

    My mom bought one of these new, she said her old car was to big and hard on gas . He old car , 1968 GTX 440 .

  4. Tom c

    Sorry , I meant her old car .

  5. Ben T. Spanner

    We used to buy these from the Purolator courier service with who knows how many miles. They were well maintained and some had replacement engines or transmissions.
    All of them were white. We would had aftermarket fake wood, and a junkyard replacement seat. The used car lots couldn’t get a decent enough. They made a decent cheap used car.

    Like 2
  6. Tom

    My mom bought one of these new, she said her old car was to big and hard on gas. Her old car , 1968 GTX 440

    Like 5
    • Dave

      There was a story in Mopar Action magazine about a guy who ended up with a restoration reference Superbird that was traded in on a Pinto station wagon at the dealership he worked at. A lot of our parents unloaded gas guzzlers in 1974.

      Like 3
  7. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    It would be nice to know what the mileage is, and interesting that they intentionally did not fill out the box when posting it on C.L.

    Something to definitely ask them if thinking about this car.

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      I don’t think knowing the mileage wold help in any way as it would not be an indicator of the condition of the car.

      You go look at it, see if it runs well and drive it home.

      Like 2
  8. Troy s

    Kinda odd, in away, how some cars still remain popular or at least are commonly known even amongst non car people. Small mundane economy cars like this and the Chevy Vega,the older VW’s and so forth, I can see it I guess. It’s still all about that era or near end of it, nostalgia right? I doubt anyone cares now or fifty years from now cares about the the beloved Ford Escort or Focus that has been on our highways for a number of years really.

    Like 2
    • bone

      Probably because there are none left already !

  9. Billie Bob Norton

    A leak from the gas line……a Pinto……ahhh, no thanks….

    Like 1
  10. George Member

    The Pinto was a huge sales success, and a far better car than the completely awful Vega…..and in fact, better than much of its imported competition.

    The famous fuel system issue is “blown out of proportion.” It is not that the design was prone to spontaneous combustion, but that Ford’s discussions of the design were made public showing that the defect was known and that it could have been safer…and it certainly should have been.

    I would love to see NHSTA data on fatalities over all kinds of accidents from all 1971-1974 cars. I would bet you that the Pinto, in any random accident was as safe or safer than most of its competition, especially the VW Beetle.

    Like 6
  11. Del

    Cute car.

    probably get for 2500

    Like 1
  12. w9bag

    I’ve had 2 of these wagons: a ’71 Squire, and a ’79. Both were fun to drive, economical, and created quite a bit of attention. Everyone wants to make a big deal about the exploding tanks. Do some research. There have been models that have had worse reports. Mother Jones trashed this cars reputation. I admire them !

    Like 3
  13. DAVID KENIRY

    😲i hav a👍351c ho & toploader
    now your talking😎

  14. Jimmy

    My folks bought the twin to this car right down to the color and options except theirs was a automatic. The only issue they had was a bad timing belt while out at Mount Rushmore but other than that it gave them no trouble, the Midwest salt ate it alive.

    Like 2
  15. Del

    Every early 70 and mid 70s Ford were rust buckets.

    People in Ontario Canada actually brought a class action over the rust issues.

    Like 1
  16. Andrew Franks

    If you need a driver, grocery getter, or something to go to the parts store, this car will be a member of the Ultimate Driver Group. Besides economy and very little trouble, you’ll have something with at least some style as opposed to SUVs, which are absurd and overpriced. And don’t worry about the gas tank. I don’t need this and i don’t have room otherwise I would be on it.

  17. Al

    Bought 2 new ones, ‘72 and ‘74. No disappointments and many miles of smiles. This one is on the wrong coast. Wonder if UPS could handle.

    Like 3
  18. CanuckCarGuy

    Great little car for running errands around town and hitting the show and shine. Looking at the driver’s rear quarter and door however, there’s some damage there that goes beyond “ding” status…the asking price is high, given what the photos show.

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