See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!

Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!

In general, cars at the high-turnover self-service junkyards tend to be 15 to 20 years old, but some types of cars disappeared from junkyards long before their time. The Pinto was such a car.

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Believe it or not, the Pinto was once as common on American streets as, say, the Sentra is today. The rep for exploding in rear-end collisions was relatively undeserved (plenty of Detroit cars with the gas tank mounted between the rear axle and the bumper had explosion problems), but Ford didn't win itself many friends with those memos showing that Dearborn's bean counters preferred to pay wrongful-death settlements than redesign the car.
The last Pinto was sold in 1980, and by 1990 you hardly saw them in junkyards; only the wretched first-gen Hyundai Excel passed through the junkyard phase of its lifecycle more quickly. That's why it's a memorable occasion when I find a Pinto in the junkyard these days; someone kept this thing running- or at least stored- for decades after most of them had long since been rendered into cubes of China-bound scrap steel.

Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
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Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
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Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
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Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
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Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!
Illustration for article titled See, Not All Pintos Blew Up!

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DISCUSSION

econobiker
econobiker

[The lack of Pinto's is what tweaked/tweaks me about recent movies proporting to be set in the 1970's...but I digress.]

Pinto story prelude: We all have family trees with branches that we forget that the best defense is not asking in-depth questions...

Story:Last Pinto I saw was in 1995, in New Jersey, when my shifty uncle and cousin were "rehabbing" a mid-1970s white hatch back with undetermined mileage. The iffy mileage came due to it being a former Bell Telephone light delivery car! It still had remnants of the blue and olive green stripes under the hood/trunk edges and inside the doors! It was as base of a model as you could get with AM/FM radio and automatic transmission as the only identafible options- yes it had the dog dish hubcaps. It had a selection of body rot but the back seat looked barely used as I believe it had been folded down for delivery mode for years.

I gave the uncle tires and stock rims from my recently junked 4dr Dodge Omni since he had a manual tire changer in his garage and was always working on these type of "projects". Two of the tires I had bought new and put about 8k on them. The other two were cupped but matching brand tires with unknown mileage which I had "acquired" from an auto body shop's scrap pile. If you've never seen an adult man sweating booze salivate over used tires, then you've never hung out with my uncle. I think he figured the tires would increase his asking price on the Pinto by about 30%-40% versus the mismatched brand and pretty much bald tires it had on its wheels.

About a year later, when talking to my cousin about something else, I casually asked how the Pinto had worked out- forgeting not to ask such questions from that side of the family. He told me that he had stipped the tires from the Omni rims the evening I left the parts and then traded the rims (with trim rings and often lost center caps) with a junk yard for two Ford pickup truck rims the next day. He said that he and the uncle then had "finished" the car with bondo in the rust holes and a quick white re-paint. This included putting the former Omni tires on it. They then sold the Pinto to one of my uncle's equally-as-shady friend's for his newly licensed 17-year-old daughter to drive. The cousin said that the high school girl had driven the Pinto for about 3 to 4 months until, during a heavy rainstorm, she lost traction, spun out the car, and flipped the Pinto completely over onto its roof. This accident totalled out the Pinto to finally put an end to its misery...

End: Like I said I said before- that there are family trees with branches such we forget that the best defense is not asking in-depth questions...