I attend, on average, better than 75 car shows and cruise-ins during the summer months. Why? In hopes of finding something different and cool. No, I do not attend to see street rods, 1965 Mustangs, 1969 Camaros and several dozen 2010-13 Camaros, Mustangs and Challengers (come on guys, bring an old car for crying out loud!). Cars like these Pinto wagons are what I love to find.
The Pinto was late to the Big Three subcompact party, but made up for it by undercutting the Vega in base price. Initially available only as a two door sedan with a standard 1.6L inline four, a hatchback (“Runabout” in Ford-speak) model debuted mid-year at the Chicago auto show. Very early ones had the deeper lid and smaller rear window of the sedan, but with chromed hinges and five vertical trim pieces on the lid to differentiate it. Later on the whole lid was redesigned with a much larger backlight, as seen above.
But we’re here to talk about the wagon, aren’t we? The wagon also first appeared at the Chicago show, in February of ’72. It came standard with the 2.0L four and front disc brakes–optional on sedans and Runabouts. It offered 60.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat folded.
Though you could get your Pinto wagon in plain-Jane form, Ford had a much more luxurious version if you wanted it–the Squire. Much like the gunboat LTD-based Country Squire, the Pinto version boasted Di-Noc wood paneling, bordered by fiberglass moldings simulating birch framing.
When all the boxes were checked, the interior could be just as plush as the exterior, with high-back bucket seats with vinyl bolsters and houndstooth cloth inserts. Of course, an AM/FM stereo, air conditioning and other fancy options could be had.
I photographed the light blue ’73 Squire nearly a year ago at the excellent Maple City Cruise Night in Monmouth, IL. It was the first Squire I had seen in decades, and it looked like it had just time-warped in from 1975. I neglected to post it on CC for whatever reason, but when I spotted this green ’74 at the Railroad Days car show in Galesburg, I knew the time had come for some Di-Noc Pinto recognition!
I struck up a conversation with the ’74’s owner, telling him how cool I thought it was and how I had seen a similar one the previous year. “Was it blue?” he asked. When I answered in the affirmative, he told me he owned that car too, and proceeded to pull out a photo book with pictures of both cars, along with a couple of Pinto sedans and hatchbacks he owned.
I can’t recall the owners name, but I have to thank him for preserving these cars, and keeping the Corvette/Mustang ratio down a bit at the local shows! The Pinto’s presumed flammability notwithstanding (much like the Audi 5000 debacle, in my opinion), I like these cars. Indeed, I would also love to find a Vega Estate at a car show sometime! The 2013 Maple City Cruise Night is only a month away. Who knows…