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Racer Face Off: Dodge Coronet VS Ford Pinto

Racer Face Off

Do you want to go fast in a straight line or blast through the curves? That’s the question we’ve posed to you in this week’s Face Off, where we pit two classics against each other and find out which one you’d choose. I had track days on my mind when I spotted these two vintage racers, one of which is designed for ¼ mile blasts while the other is more at home on a road course: this 1969 Dodge Coronet dragster is available here on craigslist for $15,000 while a retired SCCA-veteran 1971 Ford Pinto is up for grabs at $3,000 and also found here on craigslist.

1969 Dodge Coronet Rear Dragster

There’s something about vintage dragsters that other cars can’t touch. Maybe it’s the graphics or the proportions, enhanced with wide slicks and low stances. I couldn’t find much out about the Coronet with “Family Trouble” graphics painted down the sides, but the seller claims it can run in the high 9s in the quarter mile. There’s no mention of specific modifications but you can bet it has a few; unlike some modern cars, I’m guessing that hood scoop is fully functioning. While I know little about choosing the right vehicle for the drag strip, this Coronet looks like it would fit right in at any event where the Christmas tree lights are lit.

1971 Ford Pinto

This 1971 Pinto is said to have been a track car from new, which always adds some intrigue to a vehicle’s history. The seller notes a family illness kept him from bringing this one back to life, which has been off the road since 1993. The motor setup sounds intriguing, as the seller notes it’s a German 4 cylinder with a hotter camshaft and a locker rear end. I’m curious if it’s a European Ford engine or a run-of-the-mill Volkswagen unit that is likely downright lively in a light chassis like this. Adding further to the car’s pedigree is the seller’s note that it was one of the first to run in the popular 1970s Trans-Am class.

Race Engine Face Off

Although upkeep on race cars is rarely cheap, there’s no better feeling than getting to the track early, walking the course and then burning some gasoline. The Coronet is a bruiser and an ideal weapon of choice for those of us looking to perfect the art of the wheel-stand. While the Pinto may chase curves, it too looks like it’d be a hoot for the next owner, albeit one that likes to tackle the esses instead of the timing lights. Either way, these vintage racers are like an all-access pass to enthusiast events all over the country. Which would you choose?


  1. jim s

    pinto is $5000 with the motor and needs a lot of work. the drag car looks close to being race ready but the automatic kills it for me. i think i would use the pinto for track days and autocrossing. great finds

    • OtherBarry

      Auto is good for drag racing though

  2. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    No question. Pinto for the win!

  3. Dave at OldSchool

    I’m a Vintage Roadracer, but this is a no brainer… 15k asking for a track ready car, vs a noncompetive Pinto that will need 6 grand more to be track ready…maybe 10k if you plan on Vintage pre72………… makes the DODGE the clear WINNER …

    Every Pinto “ran in the Trans AM ”
    … ONLY the ones that can document T/A History count. This cars logbook begins in ’78…that’s not good…The body mods are all later than T/A and will need to be corrected, along with probably a bunch of other non period mods that were done for racing in the 80’s …Restoring these B Sedans is NOT CHEAP……

    • Jamie

      No arguement with your numbers, nor your comments on vintage heritage :-). But I have two reasons for the Pinto:
      1) I have no desire to go drag racing
      2) not thinking vintage–much rather run ChumpCar, AER, WRL, or LeMons. All of which offer more track time per $ than vintage….or drag racing.
      Just one person’s opinion, horses for courses and all that stuff.

  4. Howard A Member

    Being a huge drag racing fan, but the top fuel stuff, not so much the Dodge (even though high 9’s is nothing to sneeze at) I guess I’d go with the PInto, as it would be a low buck way to get into racing. Ever since my MGB days, I’ve always wanted to run on a SCCA type track. If it didn’t break, you could have an afternoon of fun, and even if it did break, it’s easy to fix.

  5. Dave at OldSchool

    ..@Jamie and Howard etal…. My comments were regarding THIS pair of cars, which was the initial question…

    Roadracing is my choice, but I think you missed my position on this deal. This Pinto will NOT be a ‘cheap’ way into Chump, Vintage, or any other on-track event…$5000 will quickly become 8k, or much more if you do the car the way it should be…………and in the price range of what it will cost to put this car on-track, there are better options of cars regularly available that are at or near “track ready”……… Ultimately, money spent on the Pinto will not be as good as other choices………………..the car has been for sale for over a year and a half at this (high) price…. if it had even marginal economic potential, I would have bought it earlier when it first came on the market……….
    I just think AT THE PRICES ASKED, the Dodge is a good car investment for fun…and the Pinto should be passed by, for better options will arise .

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