V8 Swap? Cheap 1980 Ford Pinto Hatchback

This is an informal poll, but how many of you have owned a Ford Pinto? I’m betting that a solid 25% of Barn Finds readers have owned one at one point in their lives and probably close to half have known someone who owned one. This 1980 Ford Pinto hatchback is listed here on craigslist in the Olympia, Washington area and they’re asking $1,650. Thanks to Matt H. for sending in this tip!

Other than that small dent on the end of the driver’s side quarter panel and a small ding on the left-rear wheel arch that made the trim piece sag down there, I don’t see any big damage or rust on this 41-year-old Pinto. Most of you know that if you open a craigslist ad and right-click (if you’re using a computer with a mouse) on the photo and click on “open image in new tab” it’ll open a separate image in a bigger size so you can see the details easier. Here’s another poll: how many folks look at Barn Finds using a computer and a mouse, or are you usually visiting the site with your phones or tablets? Or, all of the above? Back to the Pinto.

1980 was the last year that Ford made the Pinto so this was it. I always like first year and last year cars but I don’t know if it makes them more collectible or not. A Pinto with giant bumpers and an automatic transmission may not be the most collectible model. Next up for Ford would be the Ford Escort which was arguable a better car, if not as retro-cool and/or quirky as the Pinto.

This is the only interior photo and overall, the seller is very, very slim on photos. These five photos are the only ones that they bother to put in the listing. They’re 19 photos short in my world but it is craigslist after all. It appears that the fabric portion of the front seats is in good shape and the surrounding black vinyl is a no-brainer to fix so that’s good. We wouldn’t know that this car has a Ford C3 automatic if they didn’t list it as being an automatic since we don’t see the business end of the interior. If I’m selling something for $1,000,000 or $1, I’m still putting as many photos as possible in the listing. I will never understand that.

The missing engine photo would have shown a 2.3L inline-four with 88 horsepower. The seller says that it runs but this car has been sitting for a few years so it’ll need to have the systems checked out and flushed and the usual routine. Or, they mention it would make a good V8 swap candidate. Would you stuff a V8 in this Pinto or just fix it and drive it as it is now?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Pinto owner. 1978. Had the glass hatchback like this one. Wish it were still in the family! Nice write up, Scotty!

    Like 6
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    As for buying a Pinto, didn’t buy a Vega either.

    Like 5
  3. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    Pinto owner, 1973 model, Runabout, 1.6L 4-speed, dark green with avocado interior, served me well through college and afterwards.

    Computer and mouse, sometimes smart phone.

    As for this car, for the price, why not? You could tinker around with improving it, or do a V8 swap and make it something different. As Scotty surmises, you would have plenty of company with others who want to reminisce about the Pinto they had.

    Like 4
    • MoragaPulsar

      1973 1.6L had 54HP, yes 54HP. With the 4spd, it had 75mph top top speed, it would drive me crazy when someone would pull out and slow me down from 75mph, it would take forever! to get back that speed.

      Oh yes, 0-60mph is 19.5 seconds.

      I see people complain about 136HP Mustang IIs, or 200HP Grand Prix(s) from this era – I just dared to dream about such screaming big numbers in those days.

      Like 7
  4. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    Never owned a Pinto or any other throw-away car. At the time this Pinto was made, I had a ’78 3/4 ton Chevy 4WD pickup with a stick shift and and a ’72 Ford Custom with a 429 PI. The only 4 cylinder vehicles I’ve ever owned were a couple of Ranger pickups and they were awesome.

    Like 4
  5. 8banger 8banger Member

    My girlfriend and I (at the time) stole our neighbor’s Runabout for a little joyride…

    Like 2
  6. 6speed

    My friend had a ‘76 Mustang, that probably counts as a Pinto.

    Like 8
  7. Mikefromthehammer

    My 77 Pinto was a 2.3 ltr 4-spd. With only 88 horses under the hood, it would be a real slug with a slushbox. This is the first time (wow) I’ve heard of a C3 auto. I thought it was a typo and C4 would have been correct. A little internet sleuthing proved otherwise.

    I use my PC and mouse to access BF.

    Like 2
  8. Gary

    The rear glass on the 80s was pretty nice.

    Like 3
  9. Gary Rhodes

    My dad’s buddy had a wagon in this color a few years ago. Full chassis and cage. He built many cars that ended up in Street Rodder magazine over the years and this was the only “modern” car I remember him building.

    Like 2
  10. Charles Atlas

    I love my 1986 White Ford Escort Pony Hatchback with 4 speed and no radio.

    Like 17
    • karl

      no one cares

      Like 4
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      For the first time, this post makes sense!

      Like 4
  11. JoeNYWF64

    This huge glass hatch is a great way to advertise what you are carrying around, if theres no security cover! – was one available?
    If the ’80 pinto hatchback was hit in the back, with all that glass breaking, could some1 in the back seat be injured from flying glass?
    IMO, the very rare ’71 small window hatchback was the best of the 3 rear hatch designs …
    http://topclassiccarsforsale.com/uploads/photoalbum/1971-ford-pinto-base-20l-2.jpg
    Did the ’80 hatchback still have the non gas strut simple “scissors linkage” holding the hatch up?
    I vaguely remember reading that the issue with the gas tank ONLY applied to the early pintos WITH A TRUNK – not the hatchback or wagon.
    Not sure if that’s true or not.

    Like 1
    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      I had a friend with a glass hatch Pinto and it was held open with gas struts

    • Mikefromthehammer

      “I vaguely remember reading that the issue with the gas tank ONLY applied to the early pintos WITH A TRUNK – not the hatchback or wagon.
      Not sure if that’s true or not.”

      I’m not sure if it was just models with a trunk because the problem was the driveshaft puncturing the gas tank in the event of of bump from the rear. Since the driveshaft and gas tank would not be different in the hatchback, it likely suffered the same fate. Because of the (slightly) increased length of the wagon it might not have been as susceptible to the problem.

      Ford ultimately “solved” the problem with the 1977 model by installing a cheap shield ($11.00 per car) which helped protect the gas tank from being punctured. To think they could have done this for the first model year and chose not to is an example of corporate insanity, IMHO.

      https://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/auto-safety-testing/did-pintos-really-explode-in-the-1970s.htm

      Like 2
      • Psychofish2

        Proven in court that the Pinto was no kore prone to rear end collision fires than Vegas, Gremlins or Colts or other in it’s market segment.
        Insurance stats.
        Media + ambush journalism = Hysteria .

        Like 9
      • Mikefromthehammer

        @Psychofish 2

        Do you have any proof to back up your assertion that it was proven in court that Pintos were no more prone to rear end collision fires? I have never seen or heard of anything like that. I wait to be convinced of the veracity of your claim.

        Like 1
    • bone

      Its tempered safety glass , so at most you’d get a few small pin pricks. I’ve had rear windows blow out on me while stripping out derby cars- you get covered in thousands of little glass squares, but no real injuries.

      Like 1
    • Autoworker

      1971 1600 cc roundabout. Blue and rust. Pop riveted multiple patch panels on the floors and body. Had the head redone, and a new timing belt, and drove it for years! When it was time to go, I drove it to the boneyard.

  12. Tiki Vega

    Bought a 74 wagon for $400 bucks when I was in college. For the money, best utility car I’ve had. 2.3 engine was great for a 4. I always wanted to keep the chassis and build a kit car on it.

    No phone but a tablet and often a computer.

  13. Paul

    Had a 71 Pinto with the trunk. Wish I still had it.

  14. Jeffrey Davis

    Pinto owner. Dark green advocacy interior. Mother bought new in 73, I purchased from her $400 in 79. 2.0 4 sod. My first car and tried my darndest to wreck this car and myself I guess. Drag raced anyone. Jump railroad tracks and loved the handy turn coordinator located in between the seats(emergency brake) probably a good car for me as a V8 anything could have been bad. Kind of miss the car

    Like 1
  15. Arthur Brown

    73, wagon (country squirt) w 2L & 4spd. College car after I flipped the Corrina. Loved it for carrying everything and a full crowd to football games, hunting, driving through streams, etc. Totaled in upstate NY after graduation an still got me back to Alabama before I turned it over to the insurance company.

    Like 2
  16. mach1joe

    Time has evolved to beyond a V8 swap Pinto. Put a Taurus SHO V6 in it and go out Comoro hunting. . . .

    Like 3
  17. Margaret A. Soucie

    Had a ’73 Hatchback, 2.0 L, 4 spd. Medium metallic blue. When it died it had 275,000 miles on it. It won the Maine autocross title in ’74. All the really fast guys went to the nationals. Still, Poor Baby had the title that year. It was a tow car for Jim’s ice racer. A ’65 Saab 96 3cyl. We traveled all over Maine to ice races, we could even sleep in the back if we had to. Jim snored, so … still does. The trailer hitch actually protected the area where the “problem” gas tank would cause the car to explode. But we had the “repair” done in Bangor. Did I want the tow hitch put back on ? Ah, YES. Rust did in the car. The rear axle and springs on the left fell off and there was nothing to weld to anymore. Poor thing. I was brought up on BIG. Cars, motors, driving fast, high test gas. I hated this car. But, it won me over. Fun little car. R.I.P. 1973-1985.

    Like 2
  18. Phil

    I had two of these back in the day. I do remember spending a lot of time working on them. But they did get me from a to b and greatly increased my mechanic skills, lol.

    Like 1
  19. Terry

    Multiple Pinto owner here. Good little cars that would take a beating.

    Like 4
  20. Pete

    Had a 1971 Pinto, traded a used D2 Rainbow vacuum for it in 1988. Gave it to my daughter, we drove it till it died years later.

    Like 1
  21. Paul R.

    I had a ’73 Pinto Hatchback., 4 speed manual. Bought it used in ’81.
    If I remember correctly the 4 cylinder engine was of German origin.
    I did have an overheating problem and the head warped , but it was a mechanic’s error installing a bad thermostat and was fixed by the service station.
    I thought it was a great little car and if you wound it up to high RPM’s it scooted along pretty well.
    It did rust out in the rear quarter quite badly, I cut out the bad part and painted the whole car with flat grey rust resistant paint.
    Surprised I liked the car , thinking back now.
    It was my 2cnd car , the first being a ’71 Nova 307 , 3 speed Muncie floor shift with a Positraction rear end.
    Ex wife totaled that so she had to drive the Pinto.
    Hmm.

    Like 1
  22. Glen staley

    Had a 74 trunk pinto put 69 mercury cogar taillights in it. Had lots of fun with that car

  23. Jeff

    Mom bought brand new 73, 2.0, 4 sod. Forest green ext. advocating int. I bought from her in 80 for $400. Car was pretty reliable in spite of me trying to kill it. Would jump railroad tracks at some of the crossings we had, drag race anyone, loved the turn coordinator(ie, emergency hand brake) really was a great first car for me, traded car for 72 Monte Carlo even up wish I still had both.

    Like 1
  24. Howie Mueler

    I can proudly say i have never owned one, my neighbor gave me a Vega with a blown head gasket, sold it right away but not for much.

    Like 2
  25. man ' war

    My 78 Mercury Bobcat was featured here in BarnFinds once. IT’s the white one with the red interior, and was pretty sharp I thought. That’s why I had the 2.3 rebuilt. I had a soft heart then for it; but looking back, I wouldn’t spend that kind of money to rebuild a car that is difficult to get a pay back on! Although, I did get 3k for it which is half of what I had in it. Thanks be to God! The new owner, somewhere in Utah, put two red racing stripes on the hood and roof, centerline wheels, and a right side mirror (it didn’t have one originally). They are still interesting cars to look at for what they were. Pencil bumper Pintos are even cooler, 71-73. Would I own another one? Probably not.

    Like 1
  26. Steve Weiman

    THE most indestructible car I have ever owned. And I Put that car through every possible scenario imaginable to abuse a vehicle. I hated that car and love that car :)

    Like 3
  27. PairsNPaint

    Had both a ’72 (2.0/4spd/Brown with Black interior) and a ’74 (2.3/auto/Silver Blue with Blue interior). Both hatchbacks. Really loved the ’72, wanted to build a Pangra out of it. Had a Weber carb and headers. The early front end and bumpers really made these an attractive car. Would still like to have one.

    Computer with mouse.

  28. JoeNYWF64

    Cheap Dynacorn early Pinto(or even Vega) body please!
    All that’s left new now is the 4 door only Spark & Mirage.
    & they are not rear wheel drive.
    Nor was the Civic Coupe & ungainly looking Honda Fit – both now gone …
    http://www.caranddriver.com/news/a33336901/honda-civic-coupe-discontinued

  29. GLG Member

    Pinto’s!! I have owned a yellow on black ’71 and an off-white on green ’72. And even better, crewed on an IMSA RS race team through the early ’70’s. All were 2 liter, four speed cars and tough as nails for us rookie mechanics who were learning as we went. Moderate success and great memories. At Daytona one year, we had a rod let go in the race engine, my brothers yellow w/orange stripe car had a hot street engine, we pulled them nose-to-nose in the race garage, swapped his engine into the race car, ran the race, and swapped it back after the race. You have to be young to do that, an older guy would have gone home. So many more memories involving those inexpensive, fun cars. Do kids do this anymore?

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      How can they? Especially with that phone stuck in their hand!
      Even if there were no mobile phones, when was the last time ANYONE made an affordable small entry level REAR wheel drive car for them? – in the ’70s there were lots to choose from & almost all of em 2 doors. Young single drivers with limited cash have all but been abandoned today, replaced by greed to load up a vehicle & make it as complicated & expensive as possible – & then some. & market all “cars” to rich FAMILIES – just compare the tv commercials today vs back then!
      If the 2 Pintos above were front drive, the mickey mouse CV joints would have broke before the motor threw a rod. lol.
      & even if they didn’t, how long would it take to swap another motor in a front driver with a/c & all that other crap jammed in under the hood with no spare room under there? Even today’s modern rear wheel drive pony cars have very little empty space under the hood, compared to a 1st or 2nd gen f-body even with a big block! It’s like night & day!

      Like 1
  30. Duaney

    With the amount of work to put a V-8 in this where they never had a V-8, It would be much easier to build a Nova, Fox body, or any other platform that came with V-8’s. Even performing this job you’d end up with a sleeper that’s only a “fast” Pinto with really bad handling, just no excitement.

    Like 1
  31. healeydays

    Nope, never owned a Pinto. I did have a Vega for 3 weeks and flipped it for a profit.

  32. Ralph

    So I am now going to tell you my Pinto story. My old man had a 73 wagon with the woodgrain on the sides. No troubles but would not get out of it’s own way, slow.
    In 1980 a college professor friend was needing a car to replace his 71 Pinto. Asked me to help him find a new car. Got him a new Toyota Tercel. (he was not a car guy) He then gifted me his old Pinto. This car had been literally under water (above the roof) a half dozen times. Lived in a part of the city that flooded like crazy with heavy rains. After he gave me the car I was looking at the engine, totally covered with 1/2 inch of sludge everywhere. I asked him when was the last time he had the oil changed? Never was the answer. He had over 100K on the car, did not know cars needed oil changes. Even though I knew better, I decided to see how long it would last, so I also never changed the oil. Would have to add a quart about every 2 tanks of gas. Drove it everywhere for 2 years, would still get over 30 mpg. Never burned oil, just leaked everywhere. Would commute in it 75 miles a day, no troubles ever.
    Then one day as I was nearing work the clutch went out. I drove it without a clutch for 3 more months before the trans exploded. Pulled the trans, opened it up and watched it drain out water. There was no gear fluid at all in the trans! Sold it to the junkyard for 200 bucks. Bought another one, drove it 6 months before it died the same death as the other one before it. Never put a dime in either of them except for gas. Good times.

    Like 2
    • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

      Great story Ralph. Yours is not the only account of how tough these little buggers were. Slow, and susceptible to terminal cancer (mine was two years old when I got it and already rusting), but mechanically pretty good.

      Like 1
  33. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    My 71 4sp. Pinto Wagon with 41K on it, cost me $900 back in the day.
    Hauled my band equipment for years.
    Made an excellent bar car for non-band nights as well as an impromptu socializer.. sometimes powered by quarter kegs.

    Like 1
  34. Derek F

    In the 80’s m buddy owned a ’79 Pinto auto while I drove a ’76 Capri. We both ran Fox Mustang metric wheels with Michelin TRX tires. ( he also had Bilstein shocks ). We annoyed all the Summit Point Raceway visitors with our local knowledge of the narrow, curvy roads nearby. Folks forget Pintos use the ubiquitous Mustang II front suspension, and when lightly modded are great handling cars. SCCA used to always lump the Pintos into the GT1 run group as their lap times weren’t so far off as to be a safety concern.

    • PairsNPaint

      Used to race my Yamaha RD350 at Summit Point (Cafe Class). Lots of good times associated with that track.

  35. Fitz

    Got a 2.3 turbo motor sitting in the corner, patiently waiting for a home. Too bad this one is a) Too far away, and b) it’s green.

    • man ' war

      Funny, I just sold my 90 Mustang LX with a 2.3 turbo implant out of a 84 TC. Ran great. But recent stalling issues. New owner said he found the issue – a cracked exhaust manifold.

  36. Alan Robbins

    Although my dream memory lane Pinto would be a Squire Wagon with stick on woody woodgrain panels – A vehicle I drove 150K miles – I’d buy this one in a heartbeat if it was closer.

    These things were indestructible and really not bad at all to drive. But not too fast :)

    Like 1
    • man ' war

      I was amazed when I saw an early Ford Pinto at the local UPull&Pay yard about three months ago. And in that time frame, I have also seen a late 70s Mercury Zephyr, a Nissan/Datsun pickup, a Mazda B2000, a Isuzu pickup – all early to mid 80s and some other classics. Some of these cars/trucks go there in descent condition. Many are comparable to cars featured here on BarnFinds. Once they enter the yard at UPull&Pay, they are doomed to the crusher after being out on the yard for a length of time. I know of another yard, in a near by city, that has old cars going back even to the 50s. They don’t appear to crush them there. These cars have been there for a very long time it seems. I would much prefer someone putting there car away at a place such as this rather than a yard that will crush them after so many days of being in the yard.

  37. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    The best Pinto I had, I had a few, was a ’74 wagon that was a panel wagon. I know now it wasn’t a factory car but it was cool.

    It was bright yellow and had an oblong window on the side, not the round one that came later.

    I should have kept that one.

    Like 1

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