Not many may remember Al Pacino's gay murder mystery, Cruising, but needless to say, Pacino gets his man in the end. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Pinto Cruising Wagon may be more memorable than that, but is its price?
If you ask a lot of people about their memories of the Ford Pinto they'll likely get all wide eyed and go boom, raising their hands with fingers splayed, in mimicry of an explosion. That image of a Pinto's lightly tapped ass resulting in the car blowing up like an omertà-ignoring mobster's Caddy is pure fantasy, as the gas filler flaw in no way could have resulted in such a cataclysm. Instead, rear-end collisions above about 20 mph, could result in the car buckling and causing the gas filler to be wrenched from the tank, spilling fuel. While the gas pouring from the ruptured tank could possibly ignite - and flambé the car's passengers - it was far from the grenade-like danger many would have you believe. The defect was realized by Ford during the car's development, but as it had originally been mandated that the Pinto not weight more than 2,000 pounds, nor cost more than $2,000, the necessary reinforcements were not introduced until a number of owners had discovered the flaw on their own, or at least their survivors did.
Fortunately the wagon version of the Pinto never suffered that flaw and by the time this 1979 Cruiser edition hit the streets the Pinto's 5-mph bumpers and further reengineering had made the point moot on all Pintos. By this time the Pinto had been in production for more than 9 years and represented one of the most iconic of Ford's ‘70s products. The Pinto, when introduced represented several firsts for Ford - first U.S.-produced rack and pinion steering, first metric engine, and the first four cylinder engine in a U.S.-built Ford since the 1934 Model B. And yet nobody ever considers the Pinto for its historical significance, just for. . .boom!
At least someone thinks it's good idea to keep the historical record of the Pinto alive with a nicely preserved example, and they picked a sweet edition to pickle too. If, back in 1979, your Friday night haunts included any place that advertised half-priced well drinks or ladies night, then you would have likely seen a Pinto Cruiser like this in the parking lot. The original Pinto Wagon took many of its styling cues from the larger Country Squire, including its segmented side glass and divided tail lights as well as its faux woodgrain flanks. The Cruiser throws those trappings of suburban malaise out its manually operated windows and replaces them with a panel van with porthole style that almost asks what's your sign? Here, in red with orange, yellow and black tape stripes emulating the open road, the car feels like it's from a different era, one where form was more important than function. That may be most evident in the set of louvers which have been applied to the near vertical back glass, and maintain a level of anonymity required of the owner of anything called Cruiser. This year also enjoyed a new front end, including rectangular sealed beams with an enormous grille between them.
Down below there are a set of white-painted 5-spoke mags which haven't taken on the jaundiced pallor of age you might expect. The inside is equally lacking in evidence of age, even down to the curious rectangular buttons defining the centers of each of the 4 flat and shapeless thrones contained therein. The ones in the back sit so low that bottom squab is divided by the transmission tunnel, and makes your ass rub carpet should you be anything larger than a 32-inch waist. The inside on this claimed 16,000-miler is also black, and with only a pair of portholes in the back what happens in los Pinto stays in los Pinto.
There won't be too much going on there unfortunately as under the hood slumbers Ford's ubiquitous 2.3-litre four, an engine that has been turned rabid in everything from the Merkur XR4Ti to the Pinto Beans sand rail. Here, however, it produces its power in a begrudging manner, giving up only 88 ponies to pull the car's now nearly 2,300-lb weight. On the plus side there's a 4-speed stick and a tachometer in the dash so you won't get bored. There's also one of Ford's AM/FM stereos plugged in there, but your Leo Sayer 8-tracks will need to find another home.
The overall condition of the car is amazing for its age and provence, as there's only a few scrapes here, and wonky bumper caps there, plus some crazing in both the tape stripes and chrome roof rack. But, other than that it looks like something Disco Stu wouldn't disco duck.
And to do so, he'd need to come up with $9,500, and also need to not be a cartoon character. What do you think, does that price make this Pinto Cruiser Wagon pick-up worthy? Or, would it require more than just beer goggles to buy?
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