The Trans-Am Ford Pinto

Mention the name ‘Ford Pinto’ to someone who doesn’t like cars – and even most people who do like cars – and you’ll likely hear some laughter. To most people, the Pinto of the 1970s was cheap and dorky; it also developed an infamous reputation for being unsafe – particularly when it came to fires and rear end impacts.

But aside from the Pinto’s less than stellar image, they were actually pretty cool little cars – in my humble opinion at least.

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Back in the day, Pintos were commonly fixed up for the street with mag wheels, lowered suspension, aftermarket body parts, and even V8 swaps. The awkward-looking model even saw its share of race use.

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Which brings me to this 1971 Pinto. If you think of the small-bore side of SCCA Trans-Am racing in the early ’70s, Datsun, Alfa Romeo, BMW and other imported makes come to mind. But at times, the little Pinto was also getting in on the action.

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I originally saw this car at SEMA a couple years ago and was excited to get a closer look during my recent visit to the Galpin showroom in Van Nuys, Los Angeles.

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The Galpin-sponsored Pinto was part of the legendary SCCA Two-Five challenge for cars displacing 2.5 liters or less, and it’s powered by a Weber-fed 2.5-liter version of the original SOHC four-cylinder engine.

Galpin-Ford-Museum-118 copy

But rather than being a full restoration, the Pinto exists pretty much as it did in the early ’70s, right down to the decals and lettering.

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While nobody would call the Pinto a beautiful car, I personally think it looks quite cool in race trim with its big front chin spoiler and eight-spoke Panasport wheels. It’s a look that could be easily replicated on a street car.

Galpin-Ford-Museum-112 copy

The Pinto’s Trans-Am ventures didn’t earn near the attention or success that Datsun’s did, but that doesn’t take away from the coolness of the car. It’s just another neat bit of history from the Galpin collection.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia_media



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I don't know why everyone gives Pinto's so much hate. Awesome little card and even more awesome engines


Fuck this car. The pinto is the physical manifestation of greed and poor business practice. $200k was what they valued the human life at, so the cost benefit analysis led them to the production of a dangerous vehicle. Fuck the pinto.


johnbezt So.. Because of poor business practice.. That's the car's fault right? Not the people in charge? There's nothing inherently wrong about the car apart from safety, and nowadays no car that old is going to be very safe anyway. Besides, if you really don't like the car you obviously only clicked on this article to bitch, so I therefore suggest you just don't click on an article you don't like in the future


steelclaw42 johnbezt I will take your self righteousness into consideration.


LukeEVOVIII It might be because they would catch fire and explode but idk...maybe that's what car guys looked for in a car back in the day


steelclaw42 johnbezt  it was an unattractive car in the first place and i agree with john, fuck the pinto. and while yes most cars back in the day were not nearly as safe as cars today, at least most of them didnt catch fire and explode due to the positioning of the gas tank. let people have their opinions about the car, tool (steelclaw42


johnbezt Pfft, more people died because of Chevrolet's poor side saddle tank design than did in a Pinto. The only reason you bitch about the Pinto is because you follow the herd and know less about automobiles than you think you do. Bone up.


PowerTryp You are very correct power tryp and i agree with you, but for the pintos time while it was being manufactured, it had the largest recall in automotive history for the time period of 1.5 million vehicles. my uncle died in his pinto due to a rear impact, though it was a lower speed impact. you are correct, but this does not mean the pintos recall wasnt a major error in engineering.


@Roy You obviously have a vendetta against the Pinto and that is fine. I am sorry that your uncle met his end in a Pinto but your emotions don't prove that the Pinto was any worse of a car than anything else on road at that time.


PowerTryp Oh I was not referring to the amount of fatalities, I was referring to the amount of vehicles recalled (1.5 million) which was, at the time, the highest number of recalled vehicles. I know that the fatality counts were not dominated by the Pinto. I'm referring to the recalled vehicles at that time period. But then again, people enjoy cars and people enjoy the Pinto.


@Roy steelclaw42 johnbezt 
Fuck trolls and fuck you for defending them. People can have their opinions, but when you express them other people are entitled to criticize them. Complaining because someone pointed out that a certain opinion was only expressed to be disruptive just adds to the disruption the original troll caused. Back under your bridge.


Jeep Grand Cherokees were worse and had a huge recall where they added a trailer hitch (to protect the tank) that actually made it more dangerous in many situations. Yet everyone still talks about the Pinto even though it wasn't that unsafe compared to every other compact car at the time. Mother Jones which is knowm for crap hype journalism took an accident report and blew it out of proportion. Here's a video all about that:
They actually survive accidents fairly well, but you aren't gonna fare well in a 2000lb car with 70s technology when a 4500 pound van that was doing 30 over the speed limit moments before locks up the brakes and slams into you from behind. This was what caused one of the first deaths in a Pinto. And the van was lowered causing the bumper to hit the Pinto's gas tank directly.
There were far more deaths in the much more unsafe VW Beetle yet it never got publicised as being an unsafe car.


This is pretty cool to see in original condition. Pintos were used in almost every form of racing from the 70s through the 90s but very few of the original racecars remain. They made great candidates for nearly anything considering their light weight (2000lbs for early cars, up to 2400 for sturdier later sedans/hatches and 2600 for wagons), decent weight distribution, dual a-arm front suspension, and good drivetrains (plus just enough room to cram s V8 in there). The Pinto/MII front suspension has been used as the most common base for hot rod IFS swaps for 30+ years. The only real downfall was the leaf springs in the rear, which can still be made to work decently.
I was impressed with how well mine cornered when I got it being an old worn-out 1980 econobox. Goes pretty well now that I swapped in a newer turbo 2.3.
Also Galpin was involved with the AVE Mizar which was a Pinto that converted into a plane and actually worked until a wing support failed on one of the prototypes and killed the inventor in a fireball. There's a promo video on YouTube from Galpin if anyone cares to look it up, it's rather entertaining.


johnbezt I guess that you missed the recent recall Jeep had with its vehicles with the same problem. Their fix was to install tow hitch. to prevent a fire or explosion from a rear end collision.


I'm just gonna side-step all the Pinto-gas-tank drama crap for a sec and say that the Ford Pinto is a ballin' Trans-Am racecar. A spec-racing series even existed for them if only for a time. I agree with Johnw429 as well, the suspension design has endured well enough to prove extremely popular for the hot rodding community at large.

Here's a link to an article including Car & Driver Magazine's winning Pinto racecar, via the Fifteen52 web blog. Interestingly enough, this particular car was stored in a barn for 40+ years before being discovered and restored alongside another old C&D racecar, which was a Mazda RX-3, if I"m not mistaken. Happy hot rodding, friends!


Great car for the day , most people do not know the so called tank problem was not the gas tank location , the recall (yes I worked at the dealer installing the kits ) the problem was the filler tube to the tank, which would pull out of the tank when the fenders spread outward when hit in the rear very hard , the fix was a longer tube , almost a foot longer , please note the pinto wagons did not have the problem because of different fender design, and the mustang II also has the same tank , And last , yep I have a Pinto , not one but two ,


BlaineWills You're a brave man and a diehard fan of the Pinto, good sir. I salute you!


LukeEVOVIII It was a mediocre car in all of its trim levels, and came out during that glorious period of American car production, the mid-70s. Car was fugly as sin, slow as hell, and was used as the example of just how crappy we can make a car. Yes there are a few race cars, even a cool resto-mod or two. But its still a wart :)


Totally agree with you dude. After reading most of the post, i find it quite humorous that such an awkward and silly as fuck of car started so much drama in the cometary section of this article. At the end the day, its still a fuckin pinto, thats not worth any form of investment. Well maybe just a starre and a laugh.


QuattrogroupB I dont think it was that bad, I just always felt the American car companies were fully mailing it in at the time, while trying to figure out how NOT to make a huge gas guzzling land yacht or muscle car.


Johnw429  "...and actually worked until a wing support failed on one of the prototypes and killed the inventor in a fireball." That's brilliant! Thank you, sir. Classic pull-back-and-reveal :)



They are great cars. Drove by a Lexus burning to the ground a couple of weeks ago after it was rear-ended here in Dallas. Last year a Maxima exploded in Plano after being hit while waiting for a light to change.

Ford et al are always targeted because they have deep pockets. What to you think a '71 Corolla would look like after a rear ender?


with a driver that is very reliable car that can drive very well


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