(first posted 4/13/2016) As we were heading off for our afternoon walk, a couple of blocks down the street I spotted a blue Pinto wagon in front of a duplex. It appeared that the Pinto drivers had just made a deal to take an old recliner off someone’s hands, and the job at hand was to get said recliner into said Pinto. Would it fit?
As I walked up to check it out, I noticed the rather cryptic lettering on the windshield. A bit odd, but then this is Eugene.
By 1979, the Pinto was something of an old mare, having long lost its frisky nature when it arrived in 1971. The front end had received numerous face-lifts, and now looked like it had been Botox overdosed: Crude and heavy-handed. But who cared? Not the kind of folks who were still buying Pintos in 1979, the second to last year, before it was mercifully put out to pasture.
What’s under the hood of this one? I didn’t ask. But most likely the eponymous “Pinto” 2.3 L SOHC four, an engine that started out in Germany but came to power Fords all over the globe in its various variations and permutations. It only seems like yesterday that Ford was still selling Rangers with it under the hood.
I suppose it could have been the optional Cologne 2.8 V6, which upped the hp ante from 88 to 102. But then this is no Pinto Squire.
The Pinto suffered from the absurd notion that was rampant in Detroit in the late 60s that sub-compact cars needed to be more like mini-Mustangs and Camaros than proper cars. So they were very low, and the seats were right down on the floor. Which meant that space utilization was terrible, compared to the much more upright Japanese sedans and wagons that soon came to dominate the market. Never mind that Japanese versions also had four doors at their disposal, something that American small-car buyers were not deemed worthy of by Ford, GM and AMC.
That meant that the back seats were truly atrocious in these cars (Pinto, Vega), and completely useless in the case of the Gremlin. It took a while, but when Chrysler introduced their new Omni/Horizon in 1978, these Pintos and GM H-Cars were quickly exposed for the ridiculous and outdated jokesters that they were.
The Pinto wagon got a body extension in the rear, to make its cargo area relatively more usable, although that did nothing for the rear seat. With the high floor, due to its RWD, and low roof, these were anything but really spacious. A Saab 99 hatchback’s cargo area was vast in comparison.
Which means that although the Pinto Cruising wagon, with its blanked side windows (except for the porthole) was intended to convey the same purpose as the popular large vans at the time, the actual sex that could be had in the back of one was rather limited in its scope and variety of positions.
Good thing this reclining chair is a pretty modest-sized one. A Genuine Lazy Boy would have presented some serious challenges.
The rear hatch is even going to close all the way. And here I’ve been denigrating the Pinto’s utility futilely.
Everyone is happy, especially me. It’s not everyday one gets to see a Pinto proving its worth. And its shelf butt. Which also makes for a great tailgating bench.
The Pinto is about to head off with its bounty. And I’ve got my digital bounty in my phone. Time to get on with life, or the walk. Stephanie and the dog are getting a bit impatient, and these folks have a chair to transport. Is this the last time I’ll document a Pinto wagon hauling furniture? It is 2016, after all.
More Pinto wagon love: