CC Capsule: 1977 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon – The Original Mini Van?


Some things instantly become dated; in the automotive world, few things proclaim its time period better than a Pinto Cruising Wagon.


When the custom van craze hit in the mid-1970s, Ford realized that large, fuel hungry vans weren’t magic charms for all youthful, prospective buyers.  Something a little more manageable in size and gas mileage, but of equal visual onslaught, was in order.  Enter the Pinto Cruising Wagon.


Touted as a “mini street van”, the Pinto CW was introduced in late 1976, providing Ford a better idea for tapping into the youth market.  It was a smart move, too, as the final result was definitely memorable with the only real investment being tape and plastic porthole windows.  With all the performance tape graphics coming into vogue, Ford had gotten quite proficient in applying yards of multi-hued tape.

1978 Ford Pinto-07

In an effort to fully exploit this lucrative market, Ford wisely offered several variations of the Cruising Wagon theme; our featured car is the most frequently seen in various brochures.  The Cruising Wagon option would stick around until the end of the Pinto in 1980.

As a teen, Mrs. Jason had a friend whose older brother drove a Pinto Cruising Wagon.  She said riding in the back seat was a claustrophobic experience since all you could see were steel walls or the back of the drivers head.  These Pinto’s were nothing more than a sedan delivery with a different presentation; it’s amazing what a little paint and tape can yield.


Mrs. Jason and I have both seen this Pinto within a 10 mile radius of where we live.  It appears its usage is frequent as evidenced by the two-way radio antennas and the plastic storage containers in the cargo area.  With the trailer hitch on the back, it would be interesting to know what this Pinto has pulled in its life.


Is this Pinto a unicorn?  While that is debatable, it is still doing its thing thirty-eight years later.  While the Pinto was far from exciting, this Cruising Wagon does demonstrate a healthy dose of stamina.