(first posted 11/20/2013) There it sits, the Mighty Blue Pinto. I drove a medium blue ’72 Pinto Runabout (hatchback) back in high school, and still recall it with fondness. When Dad went car shopping for a third car, he looked for one critical factor- Overall length. Dad already owned a Toyota Corolla, and calculated he could park two cars on one side of our exceptionally deep garage, IF he kept the second car’s overall length below 165″. This led to some very interesting conversations with used car salesman, and resulted in the purchase of the blue Runabout (and yes, per Dad’s plan both cars fit in the garage ).
While the Mighty Blue Pinto met Dad’s single requirement, it also came with a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder, 4 speed manual, and 3.82 rear axle ratio. As I subsequently discovered, this combination added up to the most potent Pinto ever produced.
I understand that my take on the Pinto does not match the normal view of this car, but understand I’m talking about a very specific powertrain, installed into a car without the additional mass present in later model Pintos.
Having said all that, let’s check out this Curbside Classic before we continue my trip down memory lane. Based on the visual cues (primarily the bumpers), this car is a 1971 or ’72. Since it’s a sedan, it includes a real package shelf for 6 X 9 speakers behind the rear seats (something the Skinner hatchback lacked). Looking inside, an automatic transmission lever identifies the engine as a 2.0 liter OHC four- The base 1.6 pushrod motor only mated to a four speed manual transmission. The wheels mimic genuine Ford wheels that first appeared on the 1974 Mustang II, so they aren’t original equipment. Still, overall this Pinto appears quite stock.
As I said, the 2.0 liter OHC four is the desirable Pinto engine, but only if it’s mated to the four speed manual. German designed and built, the engine provided a good power to weight ratio, smooth power delivery, and a fat torque band. Also offered in the imported Capri, this engine lived in the US market for a brief four years, and is relatively unknown among US car enthusiasts. Regular readers may recall that Paul Niedermeyer wrote about driving new OHC Pintos in his biographical series, and praised the motor when matched to a four speed manual- At least as compared to the other new cars available at the Ford dealership.
Perhaps most surprising, Car and Driver had this to say about driving a Pinto (from a 1971 long term road test):
“The Pinto is exceptionally satisfying, even amusing, as a city traffic car. It’s highly maneuverable, visibility is extremely good in every direction except toward the rear corners, and it has the sharp-edged, go-stop-turn feel of a sports car. With this in mind, there are two bargains on the Pinto’s option list: the 2.0-liter engine for $50, and the disc brakes, which will set you back $32. Without those two extras the Pinto is just another low-dollar transit capsule—with them it’s a real urban flogger’s car. The “big” engine is relatively smooth and quiet and very powerful. It also revs like a dentist’s drill. The 4-speed transmission which backs it up is right for the task with short, quick throws and a solid, stubby lever.”
Surprised? Having lived with one for four years, I know the 2.0 Pinto delivered, at least when compared to the contemporary competition.
Looking into the interior of this Pinto I once again see very familiar territory. This car shares the same base vinyl interior of my Dad’s car, complete with a painted metal dash below the safety padding. Ford offered interior upgrades (things like cloth seating surfaces, “plusher” steering wheels and plastic wood grain accents), but this one left the factory with the cheapest skinny spoke steering wheel, and large expanses of vinyl on the door panels. I’m surprised to see a club mounted on the steering wheel- Nowadays the only cars more theft proof than a Pinto are a Vega or Gremlin from the same era (V-8 Gremlins excepted, of course). I once left the keys hanging in the trunk lock of a Pinto parked on the curb in downtown Denver. Five hours later, the keys were where I left them, hanging in plain sight.
Here’s a shot of an interior taken from the internet. It better highlights that cheap steering wheel and broad expanses of painted metal dash. This minimalist approach to overall vehicle design led to a light weight car, which also helped deliver class leading performance.
I do see a couple of features in this final shot that my Pinto lacked. The brightwork around the windows and wheel arches are optional upgrades, making this Pinto even more desirable. Speaking of desirable, sharp eyed readers may have noticed this car wears a “For Sale” sign. Am I tempted to buy it and relive my youth? Let me answer that by making three critical points:
1) It’s an automatic. I’ve got no interest in an automatic with only three gears, nor any slush box mated to an engine displacing less than 3.0 liters.
2) It’s forty years old. I said the Pinto performed well compared to the competition from its day. Now? Not so much.
3) The asking price is $5,000. That’s about $4,000 more than I’m willing to pay.
However, if my glowing description of this fine machine has interested any readers, I’d be happy to swing by and jot down the phone number for you. Christmas is just around the corner!
A Final Note- Starting in 1974, Ford installed the 2.3 liter “Lima” four in the Pinto. While there are structural similarities between it and the 2.0 liter, they have completely different characters. In the grand tradition of seventies era emissions, the Lima engine was down on horsepower, had a lower redline, and lousy Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) brought on by an additional 300 ccs of displacement. The Lima motor went on to entwine itself deeply into Ford’s (American) history, but you will not see me extolling the performance virtues of a Lima equipped Pinto. I would, however, still extol its reliability and toughness. D/S
This car makes me re-live high school as well, as I had two separate friends who drove twins to this car. One was a 71 with the 1.6/4 speed, and the other was a 72 with the 2.0/4 speed. Both of them this trim level and this color.
I was more of a Ford V8 kind of guy at that time, so these didn’t really light my fire. However, I rode along a few times as their drivers demonstrated how flingable these little Pintos were. And fling them they did, as only a high school kid can. One of those cars once successfully outran and hid from a police car one night when its owner darted into a familiar neighborhood with lots of corners.
There may be no other car (with the possible exception of the Maverick) whose personality changed so thoroughly from the early ones to the later ones. The first 2 or 3 years, the Pinto was a light, fun, tossable little car that was very pleasant to drive. Once the big bumpers hit, the thing turned into a cheap ugly dull dog of a car and remained so for the rest of its life.
Wow, jp, that last paragraph hit the nail right on the head. I’d driven the earlier Pintos and thought them rather tossable, but by the time I got my ’79 ESS model, it was just a slug of a car, no matter what I did to it.
I gave up and bought a V8 Mercury Capri instead.
The Pinto definitely turned into a slug in its later model years; it’s almost as though Ford purposely took all of the fun out of it, so that the Mustang II could pretend to have sporting pretensions.
At the time, I remember the car mags started having articles almost immediately demonstrating how easy and affordable it was to improve Pinto performance. Sure, the factory Pintos left lots to be desired in performance and handling. But I remember articles at the time talking about adding Michelin or Pirelli tires, Koni shocks and sway bars. Even turbochargers. This would have made a huge difference from what the factory offered! And didn’t cost a bundle. The Pinto wagon wasn’t bad looking for 70s small wagons at the time. This was several years before the factories regularly started offering performance packages.
I think the Pinto tuning caught on much sooner in California. I’d say the majority of Pinto owners weren’t interested… so, the factory was slow to respond.
I had a ’75 with the Lima engine and the battering-ram bumpers. I was a new driver then with little to compare that car to, but it was a hell of a lot faster than the Renault Alliance I learned to drive on.
Only thing I didn’t enjoy about that car was the manual brakes.
Mom got me a burgundy no trim 1971 Pinto ,1.6 4spd black interior in 1981 for graduation! A sun roof ,tacometer ,small foam steering wheel, ucimity sam floor mats and a hurst
shift knob ! I hung the dark red feathered roche clip from the rearview mirror my future wife gave me to show we were going steady.
Headers ,straight pipe’s, cherry bombs,traction bar’s
Kelly Super Chargers and aluminum slots. Best gocart I ever owned lol
Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the pinto for a brief time in the early 80s! God bless
I can attest to the fact that using the E-brake/parking brake these cars could execute the most impressive square turns imaginable and the fun you could have in the snow was great.
Nice find. The first “normal” car (after years of Checkers, Citroens, and a couple SAABs) I remember my dad buying was a ’72 Pinto sedan in a shade of blue a bit darker than that one, and it had the 2.0L with the 4speed. Alas, it was yet another of my dad’s “magnetic” cars, it seemed to attract accidents… it got rear ended TWICE, once by an Ohio State Highway Patrol Bel Air and once by a ’68 Electra 225. Obviously no boom either time :D. My first car also happened to be a 2.0L/4spd Pinto, a red ’74 Runabout. Didn’t have enough power to get in much trouble but it was a hoot to drive.
Pintos were all the rage among the officers in my office when in the USAF! Of course they were all in competition with each other and it was fun to watch. However, I had the coolest car of all…
I’ve told a couple of Pinto stories before and won’t get into them again here, but these were pretty dramatic cars for the times compared to how bloated almost everything else was of the domestics. Only the little Japanese cars bested them, and they were not impressive to most at that time.
It appears the powertrains used in the Pintos were far better and more durable than those used in the Chevy Vega, and having the Pinto around much longer than the Vega appears to validate that – they were the better car all-around, no matter that I felt the Vega was nicer-looking.
For some reason, those hexagonal headlight bezels makes me think of the movie “The Andromeda Strain” from 1971! Cool flick…
Ah, an engine I’ve had much personal experience with and can actually work on myself! That Ford 2.0L engine is known as the ‘Pinto’ engine here in NZ, although we never got the Ford Pinto. Instead, we got the 2.0 Pinto engine in Mk III-V Cortinas, the Mk I Sierra, as well as in the odd Australian-built Escort. As the Cortina was our top selling new car for most of those three generations, the 2.0 Pinto engine was ubiquitous for years during and after the model runs. It’s still sought-after by folks who want to shoe-horn them into Escorts.
While growing up, my parents’ 3 Cortinas and 1 Sierra were 2.0 Pinto engined – I learned to drive in the Sierra. I then owned 3 successive 2.0 Sierras. Mine were autos, but my parents’ were all manual (4-speed in the Cortinas, 5 in the Sierra). They all went very well, with the 5-speed Sierra (also LPG-fuelled) being the quickest and most economical, at 42mpg (imperial). My autos did mid 30s.
I’d happily own another Pinto engine, but I think I’d draw the line at a Pinto car! 😉
Wise choice on where to draw the line. The Pinto looks like a Maverick that was left in the dryer too long.
It sounds like the 2.0 Pinto engine was as commonplace in New Zealand as, say, the small block Chevrolet was in the U.S. Although you experienced much better fuel mileage.
Cortinas Escorts and Transit vans all came equipped with that Pinto4 as Scott says you couldnt move without falling over one here.
The 1,993cc Pinto engine was pretty ubiquitous in non-U.S. Fords into the early ’80s. In Europe, it went into not only the Cortina and Mk 1 Sierra, but also the Capri and the Escort RS2000. The latter had 110 hp DIN, which wasn’t bad at all for the late ’70s.
I forgot about the Capri – we got the MK I-III too, although the Pinto was just one of the myriad engines offered in it here. As well as our locally assembled UK-spec Cortinas and Escorts, we also got the Australian-built Pinto-engined Mk IV Cortinas and Mk II Escorts in small numbers. These Aussie-spec Pinto engines had rather a lot of emission controls on them and were a lot less powerful than the 74kw UK-spec Pinto in the vast majority of our Fords (and would be why Ford Australia offered the Falcon’s 3.3 and 4.1 engines in the Cortina).
I just bought a 1960 Austin Healy Bugeye Sprite, freshly restored, with a souped up 2.0 Ford engine and transmission. I’m guessing that you’d enjoy that combination.
Here’s the Healey with the Pinto engine that I just bought (just in case anyone is curious).
Ultimately, in the long term, the Pinto did have a better reputation than either the Vega or Gremlin. Sure, they rusted, but they were reliable and cheap to fix. By ’76, the Vegas were disappearing fast. The handling of the Pinto gas tank affair, was a major bungle. But more a reflection on Ford’s corporate culture.
I remember all of the ballyhooing lead-up over the very expensive Cosworth Vega, when the Pinto Pangra trumped it a year earlier… offering a high performance variation. I can only imagine how much fun the 285 HP Pinto Pangra, with suspension upgrades, must’ve been at the time. Plus Ford should be given credit for making the Pinto so easy for the owner to do their own maintenance.
Motor Trend tricked up a Pinto wagon sometime around 1974/75, and it seemed like a very desirable car at the time. Especially for the price.
WRONG, THEY EXPLODED AND WOULD KILL YOU!
Nope. Read Roger’s comment above. His got rear-ended twice and he tells us it didn’t explode. So it didn’t always happen.
Seppi, you have become a product of newspaper sensationalism. The infamous accident that created this reputation had several factors that were not communicated:
1. The Pinto stopped on the freeway when the driver remembered that the fuel cap had not been re-installed after just filling the tank a few minutes earlier.
2. The weather was bad, so visibility was poor. The driver thought she stopped on the shoulder of the freeway, but was actually still in the path of traffic.
3. The van that rammed into the Pinto did so at full speed… due to a combination of the poor visibility (fact) and possibly due to a distracted/impaired driver (a lit doobie fell on the van’s floor, so the driver may have been looking down to retrieve it).
4. A collision at full highway speed into a vehicle without a fuel cap is not the car’s fault. Note, nearly every passenger car at the time had a fuel tank located between the rear bumper and rear axle. The technology for an under the rear seat location did not exist for rear wheel drive cars.
The main reputation issue resided not with the car, but with the engineers’ internal communication documents… establishing a new “diligence hurdle”…. both legally and produced design.
I does not seem plausible to me that the reputation was based on just one crash, although I await enlightenment. And the fact that it didn’t always explode on rear end crashes is not sufficient for me to get into one.
In a product liability law suit, many states do not permit the defendant to challenge the drivers. It’s about the product; not the drunk or pot head.
In the case of the Pinto, the plaintiffs discovered communications between the engineers and management that noted the fuel tank can rupture in a rear collision (due to impact with the rear axle). Those communications were the root of the media furor, and the Pinto’s reputation to the hit.
Automotive safety norms are a moving target. Yesteryear’s safe vehicle is today’s death trap. Today’s safe vehicle will become a target of income to a future product liability lawyer. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but think about the hypocrisy spawn by Joan Claybrouck and Clarence Ditlow…. They forced air bags onto every vehicle in the early 1990s when every auto maker warned that the technology needed more development…. Then when the auto makers were proven right (high powered passenger air bags were hurting/killing kids and small stature adults), JC and CD didn’t fess-up to their role in the issue; they “flamed the fire” with their criticisms.
In Germany and Japan, the government and so-called advocacy groups do not have such an adversarial relationship with the auto companies. They work together so societal needs and technology advancements can occur in an efficient and effective manner. All auto companies that do business in North America would love a similar relationship. But our society is too litigious and our politicians prefer to dump consumer behavior issues on OEMs (the US is the only country in the world that makes OEMs design air bags to “save” unbelted occupants… which caused air bags to be more forceful and harm small occupants; consequently, we now have more costly/complex systems).
Fact – seat belts save lives. Fact – the #1 safest thing in an automobile is not the air bag or the seat belt…. it is an alert and attentive driver. Technology exists to disable hand-held phone calls and texts, but the cell phone companies don’t want to do their part (they profit from our addiction to that smart phone). Oops, I got cynical again.
Wasn’t the wagon not involved in the rear-explosion recall?
It would be interesting to go back and try these cars from a different perspective. The early Pinto sounds like a lot of fun properly equipped. I always thought the early Pinto was a decent looker – I had a six inch long toy version that I got by ordering as a breakfast cereal premium. I really liked it, the wheels would actually steer!
By the time I was driving in the early ’80s, these were pretty used up. My close up experience was my sister’s ’74 Mustang II 4cyl automatic with Air. With the AC on, top speed was limited to about 45 mph on any serious hill. At 8 years of age, it was subject to constant repairs. She dumped it after about a year. Being a Colonnade Cutlass man at the time, that was enough for me to write off small cars and anything Pinto based as hopeless.
Laugh all you want, but if you wanted to run B-sedan SCCA autocross back in the day, and couldn’t afford a BMW 2002, this was your answer. A slight ($300 or so) upgrade to the suspension, fancier wheels and tyres, and damned if those things couldn’t go around the course fast. BMW owners usually won, but it was close enough that they hated the Pintos.
Pintos were highly tunable.
The car mags were encouraging it with the Pinto/Vega/Gremlin almost immediately.
Lots of aftermarket upgrades were available.
But 95% of the Pintos I saw on the road remained bone stock.
The car makers get blamed for malaise era cars… but I think the apathy amongst the public was pretty heavy too. A performance Pinto (or Vega) was very manageable at the time.
For a daily driver Pinto, you could get Recaro seats and sway bars at the time.
However much of an oxymoron that seems today.
I do remember lots of bone stock Pintos being driven hard and thrashed though.
Quality issues aside, I don’t think many domestic cars at the time stood up well to neglect by owners.
Cars in general don’t stand up well to neglectful owners. Even now.
But if I had to get an ’70s compact, I’d get the Pinto, the Vega while a looker, is just too small, and the Gremmy is just ugly.
Ford’s material quality was good, just poorly executed.
I did a number of mods to my 74 Vega GT, but there seemed to be no gains in performance or improved fuel consumption. Recaro seats in a Pinto?! Oh my,
I might have bought a Pinto back in the day, but there was nothing comparable to the Vega’s GT package. A pre big-bumper Pinto might have indeed been fun to drive. Just don’t load up the trunk or carry three passengers.
I purchased a new 1973 Pinto wagon with 2 L 4sp. I drove it (family car of 4) for 50K miles (top speed 85 mph downhill with a tail wind) when I installed my first set of 3 headers over the next 100k miles. After market performance exhausts did little or nothing for performance except to garner the wrath of home owners and police. That last 100k miles was driving a perfect sleeper (not the mattress) performance car, reving consistantly to 8K in the first three gears hitting 40, 80, and nearly 120. Walked away from a 5 L Mustang from a light with my full family aboard and he never caught up, yes, he was trying. Another time I did the same to a motivated Z28 Camaro. I drove this car for 13 years through many terrains including some without roads over mountains (twice on the same trip W of the OK panhandle to Raton, NM, and again up a mountain road in S CO north of the pass where we found ourselves driving up a stream to a family home where several gentlemen outside, surprised at our presence, suggested we return, which we did) including being the first private vehicle to summit Pikes Peak, June 1, 1975, though we were not the first car to start that climb. Headers! Ultimately, rust won the battle in 1985 when I donated the car(cass), replaced with a 1985 Astro V6 auto (growing boys)!
My niece had one of these. Drove it for quite a while and wasn’t sorry about that. She had to have an engine swap and the mechanic said the engines didn’t last long. She wound up trading it for an aspen or volare with a slant six. That never did die.
During the same time frame my parents (both in their seventies) were driving another car mentioned in the comments. A maverick with the 302/auto grabber package. It’s fun to remember but I would rather drive what I’m driving now.
Nice color and wheels.
The Pinto had a lot of potential but like Daniel pointed out , neglectful owners did these cars no favors. Just the nature of entry level car owners, maybe?
Entry level cars are perhaps the most likely to be abused.
But many car owners in general are negligent and hard on their cars.
For example, check out David Saunders recent ‘Volvo Alternator Hunt’ article.
So many cars in that scrap yard still look entirely roadworthy.
The difference IMO, is pre-early 90s domestic cars just couldn’t withstand the abuse.
People were pretty hard on Pintos, and they couldn’t withstand it!
They were pretty cheaply made…
If you don’t have a lot of money, it’s hard to justify repairs and maintenance unless they’re going to get you a ticket (or already have), make the car undrivable, or get you killed.
I always enjoy your posts, Dave. Especially a great find like this Pinto.
I had a friend in high school who got a new one for graduation. A yellow ’71 coupe with the 2.0 and a 4 speed. The car seemed to scoot pretty well.
I like that this car is probably wearing the original license plate; I would place it as being issued in late ’70 or early ’71. I hope the car finds a good home.
Nice find, and yes, these were fun to thrash. The body structure on these early Pintos was pretty flimsy, due to trying a bit too hard to keep weight down. There was some lack of structural integrity over harsh bumps and stuff, but not something a kid could car about.
Ford eventually strengthened the body and added more sound deadening, which only added to the Pinto’s sad broughamification in its later years.
Hm, now that you mention it I remember my ’75 being awfully flexy.
I’m not surprised at the performance, a stripper 2.0 engined 4 speed Pinto was the base vehicle for the IMSA and SCCA racecars that owned their classes in the early 70s. For reference, this meant a Pinto that could out run and out handle a BMW 2002.
What amazed me was that the Pintos handled so well, yet there were only leaf springs and a live axle in the back.
The trunk lidded Pintos always looked best to me. The (“Runabout?”) hatchback always looked like Salvador Dali took the rear glass and stretched it into something very “off” looking.
As I recall, the earliest hatchbacks had the same small window as the coupe, and were hard to tell apart from a distance. It was either 72 or 73 when the hatch glass expanded to fill most of the hatch.
The small window hatchbacks only lasted half a year. The hatchback did not go on sale until Jan 25, 1971 and the 72’s got the bigger window from job one.
An extended-family member worked at Ford in the early 70s, and explained to me corporate strategy behind the Pinto’s switchover from the Europe-sourced 2.0 to the American/”Lima” 2.3. For Americans who didn’t want to adjust lifters and such, the 2.3 was comfortably under stressed (and lots of Piano & Ranger owners have put lots and lots of miles on them). Esslinger Engineering has to “go” parts if you want to build up your 2.0 OR 2.3:
And then there’s always the route of installing Mustang II underpinnings for a very fast (if front-heavy) 302 V8. If I could find a clean Pinto driver for well less than $5K, I’d be happy to give it a home. (Fond 2.3/4-speed memories!)
Those are not the factory slot mags. The big tell is that they don’t have the black pinstripe. Here is a set of factory Ford slot mags. http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/111198333385?lpid=82
How strange- I could of sworn those mags had the black stripe and factory center caps when I saw them at the car. D/S
When I was in 1st or 2nd grade (1975-ish) or so my folks had a 1971 sedan 2.0L / AT. It was light blue with a black vinyl top. Chrome wheels w/baby moons. I don’t recall having them having any issues with that one. I have fond memories of that car. Fast forward to my high school years – a good friend had a 1976(?) model … the “anti-Starsky & Hutch” paint job … that car, I don’t really have any fond memories of …
A classmate of mine in high school had a 1971 Pinto (high school was enough long ago that the car was actually new!). Several of us attempted to lift the thing onto the sidewalk. Amazingly, we almost succeeded.
Lots of them were sold here in Arizona with air conditioning. You don’t want to live through a summer here without it!
Here’s a different perspective on an early ’71 Pinto.
I was in London doing graduate work, so after a year my parents visited with my little brother. They rented a Ford Escort 1300 automatic, and I went on tour around England with them. Great little car, and not so slow when you got used to using the auto in manual mode.
Three weeks later, back in Canada, my parents needed a new car for my mother, so based on the Escort, they bought a brand new Pinto 2.0 automatic.
Nine months later, I went home myself for a visit, to discover a bright green Pinto with 700 cc more, and less performance than the Escort, an interior far worse than the cheapest Escort made, and which clanked over bumps. Horrible.
As a mechanical engineer, I figured the engine had skipped a tooth on the cam belt. The dealer was skeptical, but had a good look, and lo and behold, I was right.
So, now it had a bit of get up and go. The auto was so slow shifting, you could move the lever to 2 from D, and blip the throttle to rev match!
Two and a half years later, I returned to Canada for good. My parents gave me the Pinto as I buzzed around, got a job 150 miles away, and needed transportation before earning money. The drivers door had a rust hole in it by then, and the skin had rusted away from the door frame at the bottom. I used a bath towel stuffed in the door to keep winter breezes out. The engine again had low power, but a peak in the oil filler hole revealed literally squashed cam lobes, a typical problem with that engine. Four months into my new job, I sold it for scrap when I got a new car.
Before I had left England, I had driven many Escorts. 1300GT, which flew and would rev to nearly seven grand, the cooking 1100 of a student flatmate, and my favorite, a re-engined station wagon with a Cortina 1600GT engine and rims.
Escorts like this were made from 1968 to about 1980 (mildly restyled). Just Mac struts and leaf springs. ANY of them put the Pinto to shame, and had much bigger interiors, especially the back seat.
I assumed that in usual fashion for the time, Ford made the Pinto mean and nasty to punish customers for buying a “small’ car rather than something more grand. Cynical corporate games to reinforce the typical American’s idea that small cars were crap. It was a prevalent outlook.
Meanwhile, in the UK, where a small car was normal, they built decent vehicles that weren’t penalty boxes. I have avoided Fords ever since. They speak out of both sides of their mouths at once, and I for one remain deeply unimpressed.
GrandMama’s ’72 Runabout, B&B’d, P&P’d, B&S’d, Weiand Intake, Holley 390 4v, Blackjack 3 into 2 Header, ’74 OME Mags, 4 Dealership installed Mud Guards, Metallic Metal-flake Bronze, Factory A/C, Factory Front Disc Brakes, Factory Console Clock, Factory Day-Night Rear-view Mirror.
Would like int install Anti-Sway Bars, as well as a Full Gauge Package, need to reinstall the Factory A/C though w/ a SAAB or Volvo electrically powered system, would like to install an Overdrive package to the 4-Speed Manual Trans,
Here’s my 71
I still see Pintos at the vintage races pretty regularly. The 2.0 liter makes a glorious noise through straight pipes.
here is my tricked out 1971 pinto 2.0 .
(This also serves as a WANTED ad.)
art pero. You’ll never sell that, will you? I want a ’71, ’72 or ’73, small block, v8, ideally a 289, with a cam. Must have a nice black interior, perfect grill, tailights, and bumpers. Tell me about yours. Bill
Well you learn something new every day- I always assumed the Lima was the U.S version of the European 2.0 OHC engine, not a totally different engine. The 2.0 ohc was always known as the pinto engine in the UK and went into just about every RWD Ford Model we had until 1990 or so. Good reliable engines, mainly just succumbing to some cam rattle and oil burning when into old age, but immensely tuneable and people have been souping them up here virtually since day one. The 2.0 pinto was THE ubiquitous engine you used when uprating something, “just stick a pinto in it.” Thanks to its avaibility, decent power and means of extracting more power simply by strapping on a bigger carb and tubular headers. The twin cam, turbocharged 250 bhp Sierra Cosworth engine was based on a pinto bottom end. Bloody good engines, strange that Ford U.S discontinued them in favour of what sounds like an
“I always assumed the Lima was the U.S version of the European 2.0 OHC engine, not a totally different engine.”
They look almost identical from the outside, and I’m sure they share the same bore spacing, but Ford made MASSIVE internal changes.
For example, the distributor mounts on the driver’s side of the block alongside cylinder # 1 on both engines, but the 2.0 dizzy spins in the opposite direction of the 2.3 (which also affects oil pump design). Combine that change with a new valve train using hydraulic lifters (actually hydraulic rocker arm pedestals), and I’m not sure any internal parts interchange.
From a Car and Driver comparison test of a ’71 Pinto 2.0/4 spd. and a Chevy Vega HB with the optional motor and the 4 spd.
“While it is obvious that Chevrolet engineers have made a heavy commitment toward occupant comfort in the Vega, the effect of their work has been very nearly cancelled out by the car’s one colossal esthetic failure—the engine. Never mind all the talk about the marvelous technology involved in the liner-less aluminum block: From a noise and vibration standpoint, the Vega’s Four is unfit for passenger car use.”
I obviously didn’t read this before I bought a new ’74 Vega GT.
This blue one in the pictures is a 71. The original California license plate from early 1971 is a dead giveaway. I had a 1972 2.0 coupe with the C4 automatic AND air conditioning! Guy i bought it from with 61K on it won it in a contest so they threw everything in it. Damn thing couldn’t get out of its own way when the A/C was on! (they put a mustang compressor in there) I had to replace everything around it several times…starter, carb, alternator, transmission, you get the idea. But I couldn’t kill that engine!
Years later, my room mate drove it over 200 miles a day for work. Finally snapped the timing belt. When we put the new one on, we found the tensioner was frozen. That was why, since the day I bought it, I had to set the timing on that car by hearing and once it settled down–never by the book!!
Drove the wheels off that car through high school and college, put on 140K myself and sold it after driving it 9 years with 214K. Not bad for a cheap car that you could work on yourself. Kinda miss it…
I’m surprised I didn’t comment back in 2013…I had a yellow ’72 Pinto 2 liter with a four-speed stick. It was a ball to drive, just like the article says. Great looking too. (Not my car but identical shown below.) Sure was flimsy though, seemed like everything was put together with sheet metal screws.
Bought it new, kept it five years, by which time it was starting to get mighty rusty. I had a new and better job, so like so many others I knew I replaced it with a ’77 Honda Civic CVCC five-speed.
Interesting. My friend had a Pinto company car much like the one pictured above (the official color of the cleaning firm where he worked). That car would rev forever, over 60 MPH second gear. No tachometer, so I have no idea of rpm, other than “a lot”. This article finally explains its OHC goodness.
A 3.82 diff would make it quite nippy around town, and those engines loved to rev. Don’t think we ever got such a low diff; my Cortina with this engine gad a 3.50, but that was an automatic. What was it like at highway speed with that diff?
I’d happily add a clean (no rust) 72 hatchback m/t to my fleet.
A little buzzy, but not bad for the time.
For comparison, my folks also had a ’73 Corolla with a 4:11 final drive & a 5 speed overdrive. That was better & my preferred highway ride, since Dad wouldn’t loan me his Cutlass…
My first car was exactly this. Color, too.
Quick little bugger for the time.
You should try out a 4 speed 2.0L with 11.0:1 compression using aviation fuel to see how fast that light body could go. I have as a passenger and it is scary.
Hot Rod magazine tested one in there March 71 issue. 2.0 4speed. It went 17.23 @ 79 mph. Pretty quick time. Faster than the Cosworth Vega that Car & Driver tested in Sep. 76 It went 17.40@ 79. You could get a V6 from 75-79, but it had less hp and the cars weighed more. But if someone tested one in a base sedan, it might be close. The only test I could find of a V6 Pinto was in the Apr 75 issue of Motor trend and it was a wagon. 19.39@69. The thing that most people do not know is the V6 Pintos actually had dual exhaust all the way back to the muffler that came out in a single pipe.
Cool to know Ford had at least ONE Pinto that was enjoyable.
The one my folks had in 1976 was a Pony MPG wagon which, IIRC, delivered the advertised 34 MPG but was a chore to drive, especially up hills…
My credo with vehicles has come to be, get the most powerful engine you can afford, the satisfaction is well worth the cost IMO.
My first car was a ’71 Pinto. Bought it in 1984 for $400 and was clean and rust free. It also had a retro fitted 2.3 with an automatic. It was pretty quick once it was moving. The best things about the car was its general ruggedness, simplicity and actually fun to drive. Would love to find a clean ’71-’73 Pinto and autocross it.
I had a 1972 pinto 4 cyl. 4 spd. Engine ran great! I put 5 alternators and a handful of fan belts on it in well under a year. 15 years later I was informed from a Ford dealer mechanic there was a service bulletin out explaining the defect. The shifter cable not shifter rod linkage was rubber coated and rubbed on the floor pan. This resulted in a metal to metal live electrical short positive to negative condition. Aggravating, and stressful as it was for 6 months the high rev cam screamed right up to the moment I was cut off by a full size chevy pick up and did a hard right turn into a wooden utility pool at 60 mph! I was hauled away to the hospital, the pinto with the left headlight bezel embedded in the firewall and floor pan toe riser bracket embedded was towed on a flat bedded wrecker to the bone yard! I’ve told that story over and over for decades! You could fill up the fuel tank, 10 gallon capacity for $ 5.00 or less at 50 cents a gallon or less in 1975. About an hours work wages at that time in a U.A.W. union scale auto factory! 30 plus mpg was amazing at the time, if you could keep the s.o.b. running longer than a month! 1200 used car purchase w 50k in 1975 seemed a bargain at the time. Never owned a Ford product again in the past 45 years!
I had this 1972 Pinto in gold. Back in the late 70s I drove it from downtown Sac to down town LA in just 5 hours (including several stops) – it was the era of smoky and the bandit, and the truckers up and down I-5 cradled me because radar was inadmissible in court in CA in them days. Between cradling, I had the 120mph speedometer pegged. I was a 19 yr old hottie in a halter top and wish I’d had a CB radio that day… but I bet there are still some old truckers who remember me 😀
I owned a 71 2L 4spd sedan and a 72 2L 4spd wagon. both rotted out, engines were built proof except for valve seals. Broke timing belts on both. Followed up with Chevette, similar deal, tough engine, broke timing belt and valve seals failed. Just beaters for driving to work and being a mechanic repair costs were no big deal. I drive a 2018 F150 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCrew 4×4 pickup and I can pull 20-22 mpg on the highway if I behave myself. My Pinto wagon did about the same! Also that was the 55mph era!
I’m sorry but all that stuff about the Pinto blowing up and will kill you so so much over the top CRAP. Why then was there never any thing really said about it’s sister the Bobcat 5he same car just a different trim package the same company built.it . Well the main.reason was that the Bobcat did not sell as good and back then Lee Iacocca at the time work with chrysler before going to Ford started all the talk about the Pinto and it’s so called being a death trap to kill sells and we know how it turns out
This is a long story. My brother went to Western University in Ontario Canada. Sports teams were known as the Mustangs, – so naturally the team all bought Mustangs in 1966.
My Brother came home in spring of 1966 with a Mustang ‘GT. 289, solid lifter engine, about 271 HP, fast in a straight line – I was about 13 years old – loved to learn how to drive it.
Skip 5 years later- Mustangs don’t handle well, – but German Carpri’s are the rage.
New Pinto’ are same engine, same suspension so we were told. Traded the 289 Mustang for top line Pinto. Immediately had top line Pinto taken to Alpina works in Mississauga Ontario, just south of QEW. Car was there for 3 weeks: high race cam, (8,000 rpm). KONI shocks, new race gears ratios, seats , Grunberg stereo, big hole in the roof, and huge Goodyear Polyglass G14 X 205 tires. This dude did 65 mph in 2nd, 95 in 3rd, and 125 in 4th.
I distinctly racing Porches, Camaros, and the odd Corvette at stoplights – this f’ing pony was faster! in the first nine seconds. Little ponies and German engine engineering was top gear in the 1970’s.
It lost its life on Hwy 117 outside of Baysville in 1973 after a rollover. We all walked away and prayed to the mighty Ford 2.0 L.
I raced a Pinto 2.0 on a 1/4 mile clay oval in the early 80′. Souped up the engine by shaving .060″ off the block and .040″ off the head. Added a Coyote cam, and headers, with an Offenhauser dual plane intake using a jetted Holley Vega two barrel carburator. Ported and polished the head, then mounted the engine 18″ further back in the NASCAR copied small rolling chassi. Used Pinto front and rear suspension with weight jacks, and custom shocks, with a Cortina body. Took the track mini-stock championship 1980 & 1981, at Pearsonville speedway.
Worst car I ever owned.
I had the smallest engine: it’s BRIT. 1.6. (If that much.)
Going up a steep hill I was lucky if I reached 30 no matter how I shifted it. Regular oil changes did not prevent a 2-quart oil blockage in the end. Meanwhile the door and window handles were white metal and snapped off in my hand a lot. I had 7 solenoids: try to start the car and the post would melt. I had my girlfriend, now wife, watch while I’d try to start it, or have her start it while I watched. Look at the metal and it would dent.
Bought used, but only about 6 months old.
In the end I had my soon to be mother-in-law tow me to a junkyard because I wanted NO ONE to have to suffer from this car.
What are the letter/numbers on the timing belt cover?
I LOVED my 71 2.0 4 speed. Been looking for one to replace it for almost 10 years. Going through a nostalgia phase. Bought a 70 Boss 302. Wasn’t enough. Had several wish I had kept one. Couldn’t find a 71 Pinto so I bought a 76 and all the parts to convert to a 71 except the engine. While looking for one I found an 89 Turbo coupe and pulled the drivetrain. Miss the sound of the 2.0 but I just have to make due with 340 RWHP from the modded 2.3. The sad thing is that Pintos are almost all gone. Wrecked or rusted.