Vintage Road & Track Review: 1971 Ford Pinto 2000 – A New 2.0 OHC Engine Creates A Hotter Pinto

Just a few months before this June 1971 review, R&T had described the Pinto as “mediocre but cute” in a 5-car comparison against the likes of the Corolla and Datsun 510. On that occasion, the new for ’71 Pinto had arrived with its original 1.6 cyl. and drum brakes. Not the greatest hardware to impress reviewers.

Upgrades appeared soon enough, and R&T was ready to give the Pinto a new try. For the June test, the Pinto arrived with optional disc brakes and more importantly, a new 2.0L mill of European design shared with the Capri. The new setup brought much-needed pep into the Pinto and changed the car’s character. Enough to leave a much better impression the second time around.

The 2.0L is a bit lost in Pinto history, as it was only offered a scant 4 years in the US. Yet, those who tried it, have considered it the best mill the model would ever have. Indeed, as a previous CC post noted; “the 2.0L with 4-speed and 3.82 rear axle was the most potent Pinto ever produced.”

The new European sourced engine gave a nice delivery; it was smooth and quiet, provided good torque, improved performance (cutting 7 secs on the 0-60 test), and even better, delivered fuel consumption almost equal to the base engine. As testers summed up; “The 2000cc engine does for the Pinto what it does for the Capri – it makes a proper car.”

In its prior test, the Pinto’s best attributes had been its gearbox, neutral handling, and decent braking; elements that only improved with the upgrades. With the optional disc brakes, the Pinto’s numbers went from fair to very good. Along with its great-shifting gearbox and generally improved performance, reviewers found the new Pinto 2000 a far more compelling proposal.

With the upgrades being of a mechanical nature, testers had to note that some shortcomings still remained. Mainly, the Pinto’s packaging was poor. Luggage space, interior accommodations and ergonomics received generally poor marks.

Against the domestics, reviewers felt the new Pinto 2000 made a good case for itself. Adding imports into the mix changed that equation, of course. A factor that played in R&T’s final assessment; “it isn’t as much fun to drive as most of the imports or as luxurious as the Toyota, but if your motto is to Buy American the 2-liter Pinto with disc brakes begins to look awfully good.”

That seems to be damning with faint praise. But from testimony left here at CC previously, if properly optioned, the 2.0 Pinto was a decent little number against its contemporary competition.


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1971-72 2.0 OHC Pinto – The Fastest Pinto Ever Built

Vintage R&T Review: 1971 Economy Sedans Comparison – The Vega And The Pinto Face The Corona, The 510 And The Beetle