Yes, That’s a Porthole! 1979 Pinto Cruising Wagon

This 1979 Pinto Cruising Wagon looks kind of like the cross between a spaceship and the Love Boat of 70s TV fame. It’s got a porthole, for goodness sake! Still, that striping is cool! If you’ve been dreaming “Me Decade” dreams, then this might be a head start on realizing them. The car is available here on craigslist for a $2000 asking price. You’ll have to retrieve it from Redding, CA. Pat L. gets credit for this interesting tip.

The good news? The outside looks pretty good. The bad news? It was parked where it now sits, apparently, in 2004, and it hasn’t been started since. That happened with 115K on the 4-cylinder, 2.3-liter, engine, which is original, along with the manual transmission. Too bad the car wasn’t ordered with the available 2.8-liter 6-cylinder, as this other Cruising Wagon featured on Barn Finds in 2021. That one, by the way, had an ask of $4000, double this one.

Does that make this car a good deal? Maybe, but what you don’t know about it is an awful lot. There are zero pictures of the interior. Was it wildly customized? Totally worn out? Varmint-eaten?  You’re gonna have to take your chances. How’s the paint, really? It does look OK from the photos, but they’re taken from a distance. And how rotten are the floors, anyway?  Yep, it’s a California car, but it’s noted as having “some rust on inside floors,” probably because it leaks. And don’t think that being in California saves it from the damp. Redding gets almost 17 inches of annual rainfall. Pasadena gets less than four, in case you need a comparison.

So you can do what the ad suggests and restore this car or use it for parts (on what?), or you can walk away. But if you decide this is for you, then you’ve got to reactivate the registration because the car has been on a non-operational status, and that could be costly, though the way the car is presented, the DMV stuff is all legal and current. If you’re a Cali buyer, of course, you’ll also have to get the car smog-worthy, since it’s not a pre-1976 model. Having said all that, the reality is that these Pintos have a loyal following online, and they apparently sell often enough that you might even end up bidding against someone to put this in your garage, or maybe leave it in front of the house so your neighbors can see that you’re a person of discerning good taste. After all, it’s already been sitting for the better part of two decades as a driveway ornament.


  1. Bill D

    No photos of the engine compartment or the interior, so we can assume the worst there. The handbrake is knackered as evidenced by the wheel chock holding the car in place.

    The V6 didn’t offer much better acceleration than the 2.3 4-banger and there was a fairly significant hit to fuel economy, plus it was available only with the automatic. it also made the car nose-heavy. It’s no wonder there were so few V6 Pintos sold. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.

    Like 5
  2. Steve Widlund Member

    If it is on a non-op, no back fees.

    Looks good, but huge questions!

    Like 5
  3. Spudoo

    If this car’s a rockin’….
    It’ll probably roll down the driveway and take out the mailbox across the street.

    Like 8
  4. Rw

    4 cylinder better choice than 6

    Like 4
  5. B302

    I doubt the author has ever driven a Ford 2.8 automatic vs a Ford 2.3 stick of this era. The Cologne V6 was produced for about 49 years and had about as many variations, none very good. This engine was “band-aided” for almost half a century, unbelievable !!!
    Notice the trailer hitch. The Ford Lima 2.3 was a modern at the time engine although it had only 88 HP in 1979. In later years, especially in the Second Generation (1993-1997) Ranger I started to notice individuals and Fleets towing 4,000-6,000 lbs with the 2.3 engine. At that time it had a whopping 112 HP. I asked several fleet managers about this, they were not concerned at all, it was in Texas.

    Like 1
  6. Jay McCarthy

    These weren’t horrible back in their day but stuff a 2.3 Ecoboost in this with some of today’s suspension technology

    Like 3
  7. Tracy

    Wrong coast otherwise I would be looking hard at it.

    Like 2
    • Brian Kennedy Staff

      I was surprised to see how many have sold over the years. They’re definitely out there still.

      Like 1
    • Gary

      I bought one brand new. Exactly like this one. Koons Ford Falls Church Va.It was…unusual. Kept it a year. Traded it in on a loaded ’79 Thunderbird.

      Like 2
  8. TerryJ

    LOL….17 inches of annual rainfall? Well that ain’t the Mohave Desert, but up in Eugene in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (just a bit over 300 miles north) the annual rainfall is 46″. We consider Redding Ca. hot and dry. :-) Terry J

    Like 2
    • Brian Kennedy Staff

      HAHA, and last week or the one before we had rain in SoCal and everyone was so surprised. I can’t imagine 46 inches.

      Like 1
  9. Steve Bowers

    A Pinto by any other name is still a Pinto – synonymous with turd.

    • Robert Rollins

      I guess your eloquent comment makes you an expert. Pintos underestimated then and continue to be so characterized by uninformed critics. For those of us that owned one, we were rewarded with decent acceleration, good brakes, good handling, good mileage and reliability. The wagon models were extremely versatile as well. I purchased a 7 year old wagon in 1981. Tooled around in it for last two years of high school, 4 years of college, and as a matter of fact, still own it today. It is currently under restoration and am looking forward to it returning to highways and byways of NC in the near future. Ford Pintos rock!!

      Like 2
      • TerryJ

        Pintos ( & Merc Bobcats) were Ford USA’s first entry into the sub compact market along with the Chevy Vega and the AMC Gremlin. Until that class, the cars built here to fight off the German & Japanese cars were the Falcon, Corvair and Chevy 2 which were bigger cars. The engine from Ford Europe was a great design with a belt driven overhead cam and cast iron block and head. My son had one in a fox body Mercury Capri and he ran the heck out of it. :-) Terry J

  10. theGasHole

    As others have said, the 2.3L with manual transmission is the setup you want, not the V6. I know it’s rare to want the smaller engine, but in this case that’s what you want. Pintos and Bobcats have been the classic car “hobby”‘s doormats for decades, but they are going up in value quite quickly at this point in time.

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