How fashionable were custom vans during the late 70s? Enough for Ford to turn their smallest wagon into a shrunken clone of one.
The sheer kitsch factor makes the sight of one of these things outside a car show a real novelty, and the fact that GM did not respond with a Monza-based competitor suggests it wasn’t the most brilliant concept.
This car appears to be a 1979 or 1980, judging from the grille.
In Washington state, interiors more accurately show how hard a life a car has led. As we can see, all the partying encouraged by this custom van wannabe wore its durable cut-pile carpet down. Perhaps a nice orange shag covering would fit the theme nicely.
Lest owners take the cruising van theme too seriously, Ford was generous enough to remind owners that your mobile orgy would have to be limited in size. 4,000 pounds is actually not bad a bad gross weight rating for this sort of a car, leading me to suspect that this example is powered by the V6, which was discontinued for 1980.
And we end with the rear window louvers. This wasn’t actually standard, but could almost be considered a mandatory option, given the major role privacy played in the cruising van’s appeal. After all, no one wanted the fuzz peering in on their good time.
Cohort Photos by.
I don’t think it’s a V6. IIRC, that engine could only be had with an automatic in the Pinto, and this car seems to be a manual.
The Pinto ‘Cruising Wagon’ seems to be sort of a belated response to the Vega Kammback Panel Delivery. That would explain why GM didn’t come out with their own version; they already had one, albeit without the porthole window and graphics.
I almost put it as a 1980, based on the graphics, but couldn’t come across any info one when they changed them.
Google seems to think I need a Nissan NV2500 van. hmm….
I took the photos Jana.
Credit is now given where credit is due! 😮
If it’s rocking don’t come knocking!
If it’s rocking someone better send a chiropractor.
Far out groovy man! I’ve never ever seen one of these out in the wild! LOL at the 4,000 pound mobile orgy! 🙂
From the license plates, it appears it is registered as a truck/commercial vehicle.
Which would explain the 4,000 Gross sticker.
This is quite a find, a first for CC. We’ve written these up before, but never with pics from a genuine CC.
That does explain the gross weight on it. Ford didn’t put it on any cars, or trucks for that matter.
Back in the day if you had a truck/commercial license plate you could park in an alley or loading zone in Seattle virtually indefinitely, so it wasn’t that uncommon for someone to license a car that way to exploit that loophole. It also made for lower registration fees at least at the 4,000 min weight. W/o the gross weight displayed they could have been subject to a ticket back in the day. For some reason it isn’t required on the lighter weight ratings any more but still is on MD trucks.
Those are brand new truck plates too. Of course that doesn’t mean much now that this state has been using a 7-year rolling replate so that we have to get new plates every seven years whether we need them or not.
WA used to require those gross weight stickers on trucks but I haven’t seen one for so many years that I think this owner chose to apply them to his little red wagon for his/her own reasons.
Oh you need them after 7 years with the crappy plates they have been making recently. I just replaced them on my F350 and they were all streaked and faded. Yes those plates are only a couple of months old as mine were Cxxxxxx too.
Haven’t seen one of these in years 🙂
I love these tacky 70’s cars. Success or failure, who cares, at least it was interesting.
Then again, I never had to drive one.
I did, three of them! Love Pintos, especially ones powered by the lovely 2.0L OHC four.
Yup the 2.0 was the way to go. Though nowadays there are a lot of parts to hop up the 2.3.
Comes with its own rear porch
Or swim platform if you’re a boater. 🙂
These were truly a sign of their times .
Glad to see at least one left , most were driven right into the ground .
They can call it what they want. I don’t see the hinges in the back door but in just about every way this is a Sedan Delivery. Just about all of the sedan deliveries were hinged on the side so the rear door opened to the curb.
When a site is monetized I don’t know if the same advertisement appears everywhere but this is the one that popped up on my screen. Just thought it strange that a “sin bin” would have this ad.
The ads can be the same, based on the content or ad campaign, or they can be individualized based on your personal web browsing history. Or maybe it’s figured out that you need some new underwear 🙂
I’m getting a Chevy ad, oddly enough.
I can only say that I have yet to buy underwear on line. Just think it’s a little strange. Now have something about American composers.
Adblock is your friend 😀
Haha, could it be because the photos were posted by “Passin’ Gas”?
You get a Chevy ad Paul?
I’m getting an Altima ad, we should trade.
The “Abstinence Only” movement finds its rolling billboard.
I owned a 1980 Pinto wagon for 6 years. Though not the “crusing wagon” variant, it was mechanically very similar to this example. I do notice that this car has been monkeyed with–the grille is the 1979-1980 vintage, while the gauge cluster appears be of the 1976-78 era. Somebody has done some parts swapping! (I bet this car had been stolen at some point–when the thief peeled the steering column, he broke the plastic gauge cluster. A replacement from an earlier car at a junk yard would “fit” , so was inserted here)
Driving impressions: The 2.3L four was not refined in any way. It liked low RPMs best–anything over 3500 would result in thrashing vibration and noise–think corn binder. The engine settled into a predictable oil consumption rate of 1 quart per 1200 miles throughout its service life. 19 miles per gallon was its average fuel consumption. The CA-spec two-barrel Weber-like carburetor lived under a web of spaghetti-like vacuum hoses and rubber connectors. If memory serves, 6 different hoses needed to be disconnected just to remove the air cleaner assembly.
The four speed manual gearbox was acceptable, but clutch effort was high. The pinion bearing in my differential started making noise on deceleration at about 60,000 miles, but I drove the car an additional 70k miles without repairing it–and did not experience a failure, just noise. My catalytic converter rattled mercilessly upon deceleration too.
Handling, as such, was quite UN-inspiring. Attempting to drive this car quickly only resulted in hilarious body roll, horrendous wallowing, and squealing tires.
For a college kid, the car was very practical. By folding down the rear seat, I could haul all my Earthly possessions to and from my dorm room each year. I even bolted a trailer hitch to the beast and dragged a flatbed utility trailer loaded with three offroad motorcycles to/from local riding areas. That habit required that I replace the clutch 3 times over a four year period–I got that procedure down to three hours using a floor jack, two stands, a 7/16 and 1/2 combo wrench, a few metric sockets, and a pair of channel locks for the shifter lock ring.
The Pinto was never an exiting car, but it served my needs. As for the nerd factor, sure, it was there. But I did take a few girls out on dates in it, and one married me, so no real problems there.
1200 miles to a quart? Lucky guy. I had a 2.3 Lima powered ’81 Fairmont that drank oil like a diesel to the tune of 500 miles to a quart. Did save on oil changes tho 😀
The 1979 New Car Buyer’s Guide magazine I had as a kid referred to the styling as having a “jaunty porthole.”
As a coincidence, I had just watched my new copy of the Aussie language version of Mad Max a couple of days before I spotted this Pinto. It totally reminded me of Max’s van, which was a Holden Sandman.
“… the Aussie language version of Mad Max …”
What was the curb weight on these, ~2000 lbs? That would leave quite a useful payload from a 4000 lb. GVWR.
It depends on the year, they did start out just under 2,000lbs in 1971. However the listed 4,000 GVW is there to keep it legal, at least in the old days, and was the minimum weight rating for a truck/commercial plate. It is not in any way tied to the vehicle capacity you just have to license it for more than the scale weight even if that means it will be over that limit when full of passengers. Per the data plate Pintos were rated for 600-700lbs of capacity.
Prefer a Sundowner in Escort, Falcon,Transit but not a bad effort.
As a Cruisin’ Wagon, I believe this Pinto came with tachometer and optional three gauge cluster (so cool!).
The tach replaced the 5 ” diameter fuel gauge in the main cluster, and a set of gauges replaced the heater control panel off to the right (the heater control panel dropped down below the radio and out of the driver’s reach). Google could not provide a picture of the whole dash, but here’s a shot of the gauge set.
The HVAC controls in the under dash consolette are perfectly in reach that is where the AC cars had them as they had a vent outlet where the heat only controls went. I had an AC equipped Pinto, at least it was until I removed the compressor, and had not problem with reaching the HVAC controls.
At Old Car Brochures (bless ’em!) they’ve got the 1980 full catalog, and it lists this car with a different-from-1979 color/tape adornment. So, I’ll guess the featured car is a 1979.
[I guess I was a luck one; my 1980 wagon soldiered on forever, the 2.3 reliable as could be and rarely needed oil added between changes. After decades of newer cars, though, I’d probably find it plenty “primitive” these days.]
From 1980 brochure:
Back in the early 80s, one of these was a regular on campus where I went to college in northern New York. It had vanity plates and the exact bumper sticker sticker Gem referenced. They were rare enough even then that it’s probably the only car on campus that I remember distinctly.
Funny – I saw this exact car a couple of days ago…maybe on the ferry or at a stoplight? Can’t remember exactly where. But thought that I ought to take some pics of it because it would be a great CC.
I had a white ’78 I drove for a few months in the late 80s. The van configuration with the goldfish bowl window was kind of cool, but it had the miserable driving dynamics of a Pinto hauling a lot of extra weight. Rearward visibility was abysmal with blind spots that could hide a semi. I would speed up before changing lanes to make sure nothing was hiding there.
Engine and electrical problems killed it off by 75k miles. I’m surprised there are any left.
That’s groovy, man!! Isn’t that what Austin Powers would call a Shaggin’ Wagon? You know, have seen very few of these over the years. I’ll get on board to say that I like them.
When I posted it to my Instagram I titled it “So groovy”.
Wow, I have been on the lookout for one of these ever since coming to CC. I saw one once on a trailer as I was driving past a house in the country, but did not have time to stop. It was the more common silver version.
I have always said that my first choice Pinto would be a 72 with the 2.0/stick. If I had to pick a second choice, it might well be one of these. Go big or go home.
Our family had a 72 Sedan, 2.0 4 speed with AC and deluxe decor group with whitewalls, bumper moldings and full wheelcovers. It looked pretty nice in it’s gold color and tan interior. It was pretty peppy for the day, but really light in the rear and would spin it’s tires easily in the rain. It was never in snow, but I would think without snow tires and some weight in the trunk it would be pretty bad. The wagon probably is a little heavier over the rear, I never drove one. A very friendly girl had an earlier model of these Pinto van wagons. It was very appropriate for her. The rear bumper on this car looks like a park bench. The paint and stripes are totally Shagtastic!
There are some things about the Seventies best left forgotten. I think this was one of them. BTW I got a Ford Fusion ad.
Ours was a 1979 automatic model. It was decorated with orange and yellow stripes and two portholes. I loved that station wagon. Too bad it was totally demolished when it was rear ended by some drugged-up driver who ran his pickup truck into our small camper. The camper’s hitch ran right into the back of the Pinto’s tailgate without detaching from the trailer.
I was asleep when it happened. Boy what a way to wake up! I was just a boy at the time.
I have a Marti Report on my 78 version. They made 52,269 wagons that year and 5,329 had the Cruising Package. The crusing package cars in 79-80 retained the 78 earlier main instrument cluster, so the one above was not changed. Also in the 76 Free Wheeling brochure, the year before the official introduction, there is a picture of supposedly a home made version. I don’t know, perhaps it was a engineering mule that they didn’t want to admit to.
They made a 1976 cruising wagon! I knew of three of them in my area. Ford also sold the Econoline van in a similar color and stripe scheme. I also saw a few CW’s between 1977 and 1980 that were devoid of any kind of graphics. I recall that a local land surveyor used two Pinto CW’s, bright yellow with company lettering on the side panels. They looked quite sharp with the polished, slotted alloy wheels and KC driving lamps on the front bumpers.
I thought that Ford was very clever to offer this variant in so many trims. Most people who had Pinto wagons loved them. My parents owned three of them over the years.