Update: 1978 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon

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UPDATE – This 1978 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon is for sale again after recently being shown here by Michelle in an eBay Auction in February. It’s now posted here on craigslist in Rillito, Arizona, just northwest of Tucson, and the asking price is $2,650. Here is the original listing, and thanks to Pat L. for sending in this tip!

FROM 02/11/2023 – What do you get when you cross a wagon with a van? Starting in 1977, you got a Pinto Cruising Wagon. The Cruising Wagon added bubble windows to a panel wagon and topped it off with groovy ’70s colors like Bittersweet Orange. That’s probably how this 1978 Pinto Cruising Wagon started life, now for sale on eBay. The bid has reached $1025, but the reserve is not yet met. The wagon can be fetched from Marana, Arizona and yes, you’ll need a trailer. The Pinto was a response to the tide of super-economy Japanese vehicles washing ashore in the US. These were much smaller than US carmakers’ existing “compact” offerings comprised of six-cylinder cars like the Falcon and the Valiant. A four-cylinder runabout was needed ASAP, and Lee Iacocca’s Pinto was just the ticket. Rushed to market in about two years, it was introduced in 1970, one day after Chevy’s Vega, its primary rival. The Cruising Wagon allowed Ford to capture wannabe van owners who didn’t quite have the coin for the real thing.

The first Pintos arrived with tiny four-cylinder engines that could barely move the car off the line. By 1978, the 5 mph bumper rule had increased the car’s weight, necessitating more ponies. Most Pintos received a 2.3 liter in-line four, good for 88 hp. While sluggish, Pinto motors had the great advantage of cast iron composition, which made it much more durable than its direct competitor’s aluminum block. On the other hand, the position of the Pinto’s fuel tank did encourage the cars to blow up in rear-end accidents. This car’s gearbox is a four-speed manual, but a three-speed automatic was also available. The radiator and air cleaner assembly are missing and the seller notes that the gas tank needs cleaning. Apparently, the car ran several years ago when it was parked, but the seller has not tried to start it during his ownership. He also notes that a “young rabbit” ate part of the wiring harness.

The interior has suffered heat stroke and various other insults over the years. These seats are “slimline” buckets for that sporty feel. I’m thinking that other than the seat frames and a few fittings and gauges, there isn’t much to salvage here.

Thanks to dry storage in the desert, the car’s underside isn’t terrible. The body has dents here and there, and the paint is oxidized to chalk but the glass is good, the tires are new on vintage slotted mags, and the bumpers look mostly straight. Parts availability is excellent since over 3 million Pintos were made. Scanning the market turned up this over-the-top restoration that sold for $12,650. Lesser cars seem to settle in the $7k area. And then, if you want real inspiration, this SEMA project is a hot rod extraordinaire! What do you think is the best way to restore this wagon?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nick P

    With a crusher. Lol

    Like 11
  2. Connecticut mark

    Let the Young rabbit keep the car.

    Like 11
  3. Chris

    It has a future to the right person

    Like 16
  4. Danno

    I’ve always liked these wagons, restomodded (although I prefer the front end styling of the ’71-’73 a little more). In the past, that usually meant a 5.0l iron block and C4, but I think if I was building one now, I think I’d try to find an Ecoboost drivetrain from an F150, and stuff it in there. Or, y’know, find someone who could do it for me.
    I seem to recall Ford putting a fair amount of effort into making the 2.3l I4 a much better performer, even running a small supercharger on them, for the track. I wonder how readily a 2.3l Ecoboost would bolt in…

    Like 6
    • edward case

      They make a kit specifically for the eco boost to bolt right into this wagon. 😂

      Like 2
  5. Troy

    Ran when parked? So was my granddaughters Kia minivan when we parked it on the scale and sold it for scrap she got her $350 bucks for it about what she could have sold it for on the open market.

    Like 6
  6. Bud Lee

    Is there anything wrong with just saying,”it doesn’t run”. It’s at least sounds honest. Not that I’d give more than $50.00 for this heap if it ran or not.

    Like 4
    • Bud Lee

      Grammar gremlins. Whoopsi.

      Like 2
  7. Donald M Williams

    The Pinto Cruising Wagan could be had starting a year earlier than the mentioned year of 1977… with the 1976 model year. Shown in the 7th enlargeable picture in the link to this 1976 Ford Free Wheelin’ Brochure.


    Like 4
  8. Jay McCarthy

    Eco-Boost this Pinto along with suspension and brakes and have a ball

    Like 8
    • AMCFAN

      The oem motor in this would way more reliable than an Ecoboost. Yeah if you could engineer the chassis and brakes to go along with the added performance that would be one thing but lets be real. Why would someone spend $40K or more to do it when a rebuild of the 2300 will get the car motivated just fine.

      Like 6
      • Dave

        The OEM motor is an underpowered lump compared to an Ecoboost. I’d rather do preventive maintenance for three times the HP than putt putt along with the original. Theres no way anyone would have to sink in $40K to make the chassis “go along” with the added performance, unless you plan on track days. Do you farm everything out? I farm nothing out.

        Like 0
  9. Handsome Pristine Patriot

    I doubt the dang thing is even long enough to ………….you know…….accommodate two reclining people which real cruising vans were made for.
    In other words, it ain’t no Stabbin Cabin!

    Like 2
    • Big C

      I can attest, that yes, the “afternoon delight” can be done in a Pinto wagon. Tinted windows were a plus.

      Like 12
      • 370zpp 370zppMember

        As can I. Tinted windows, a car blanket and my tool box for a pillow of sorts.

        Like 3
      • Handsome Pristine Patriot

        I guess you guys don’t like tall gurlz, eh?

        Like 1
    • Big Lar

      I built a 1977 wagon with a 5.0 EFI & C4 trans w/a Bobcat diff. It was all installed using Mustang II V-8 mounts & exhaust. I put the rad outside the rad support. Power disc brakes front & rear. Manual steering. The whole job took less than a week. It ran great.

      Like 0
  10. 64 Bonneville

    non running almost a parts car, about $2200.00 needs some serious body work on the back quarters. good luck finding repair panels for the tail light area. more like hammer and dolly work, along with a slappin’ spoon. Still fun car I wouldn’t mind having. what surprised me was no A/C in an Arizona car

    Like 4
  11. Lothar... of the Hill People

    I need to go home and make sure there are no young rabbits anywhere near my Eldorado.

    I wonder exactly how old a rabbit needs to be for it to know not to chew on wiring harnesses… anybody?

    Like 3
    • Norman K Wrensch

      squirrels and mice would be more likely

      Like 2
      • Douglass Kemp

        Pack rats out here. That’s why my outdoor ‘projects’ are left with the hood up. They don’t like to build nests where it’s too bright.

        Like 0
  12. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    I miss all the Pintos I have had including my Cruiser Wagon.

    Like 1
  13. Chris

    The factory bumper is ready for a Continental Kit. Did anyone do a worse job on 5 MPH bumpers than Ford?

    Like 1
  14. Troy

    I think it needs to be crushed but honestly if it was closer I would make a offer only because my nephew from Pennsylvania is supposed to be coming for the summer and I would use it to teach him how to get those dents out and get it running again

    Like 3
  15. Jeffrey Rapp

    This is the Arizona desert, and this car is most likely a Pack Rat condo.

    Like 0
  16. chrlsful

    love it. Keep the Lima/weber progressive carb, put the ranger head on (w/the D shaped ports), use the T5, mig up the 2 bubles, smooth the 2 bumpers. Get the rest done~
    Right size, right model (but a lii small for all the SCCA stang speed goodies?)

    Like 3
  17. Eric

    Put a 2.3 turbo out a thunderbird

    Like 1
  18. Big C

    $2700 is all the money on this thing. Every pieces part on here needs touched.

    Like 0
  19. Dan

    I have owned and restored many pintos/bobcats. Everybody jokes about them blowing up. You should know that wagons never had this issue. It was a different set-up than the sedan/hatchback models. Ford began correcting the gas tank issue in the middle of the 76 model year on all pintos coming off of the assembly line. All other were recalled. For the record, and based on numbers, the Vega and Gremlin had higher numbers of explosions in rear end collisions. The orange wagon that is for sale has a gauge cluster that was only available on 79/80 pintos. The driver seat is not correct-probably out of a mustang II. Wheels are not either.

    Like 0

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