• Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
47 years have passed since the first of Ford's original Dearborn-designed subcompact hit the streets, and first-year examples have been nearly extinct for a couple of decades. That makes this 1971 coupe in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard a very unusual junkyard resident.



The cracked and faded paint, colonized by moss and lichens, indicates that this car got parked many years ago and never ran again. The depth of the patina suggests that Ronald Reagan was in the White House the last time this Pinto moved under its own power.



It once had a vinyl top, making it a bit more snazzy than your entry-level Pinto in 1971.



No air conditioning, no automatic transmission, green plastic interior.



Power for this car came from a 2.0-liter single-overhead-cam straight four designed by Ford Europe and generating an even hundred horsepower. The serious Pinto-buying cheapskates got a 1.6-liter Ford Cortina pushrod engine, making a mere 75 horses.



Close to three-and-a-half million Ford Pintos and Pinto-twin Mercury Bobcats were sold during their sales from the 1971 through 1980 model years. Having come of driving age in 1982, I have driven, ridden in, and worked on many Pintos, and I'd rate the 1971 Pinto as better than the 1971 Chevrolet Vega but not as good as the 1971 Dodge Colt.



Of course, you can't bring up the Pinto these days without hearing about the way Pintos would explode when rear-ended; this is the one thing about these cars that remains in popular memory. This is the result of a famous Mother Jones article from the fall of 1977. Pinto sales had begun a steep decline after 1974, anyway.



The good news is that Pintos didn't burst into flames much more often than other rear-wheel-drive 1970s Detroit cars with fuel tanks located between the differential and rear bumper. The bad news is that most of those cars were just as vulnerable to such incidents.



Frisky, with a wider stance than any little import.


Pinto: a little better idea from Ford.

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