The Ford Pinto was manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 1971 to 1980. Considered the little sister to the beloved Ford Mustang, the Pinto was a domestic subcompact automobile named after the Pinto horse.
The Ford Pinto was released to compete with the Chevy Vega, the AMC Gremlin and imports coming in from Germany and Japan. This car was popular from the start, quickly gaining the reputation of being an affordable vehicle with pretty good gas mileage for that time period. Ford sold more than 100,000 cars during the first year and more than 2 million cars during the Pinto's ten year run.
The Pinto was first available only as a two-door sedan, but Ford added the Runabout hatchback and a wagon body style in the following year. The company also added a coupe and a four-door sedan before production ended in 1980.
Although the Pinto was marketed as an economical car, it did offer buyers a wide range of accessories, including deluxe interior-decor packages, exterior dress-up kits, full wheel covers and various radios.
The Pinto was a rear-wheel drive car with a 4-speed manual transmission. The Ford Pinto came with just two engine options. The standard engine was a 1,600 cc, 4-cylindar British-made product, while the upgraded engine was a 2,000 cc, 4-cylinder engine.
Pintos were never really known for their power, but add-ons were available that could amp up their performance and the customers who chose the larger engine could even add air conditioning and the Cruise-O-Matic.
The safety issues
The Pinto had a number of safety issues caused by various design flaws. The gas tank was prone to blowing up, the doors would jam shut in accidents and the flimsy back-end easily crumpled if the car was hit from behind.
These design flaws led to known 25 deaths and controversy over the Ford Motor company's design methods. Families of accident victims sued the carmaker and won when the courts ruled that Ford was negligent in their designing processes.
More than 1.5 million Pintos were recalled in 1978. Later studies did determine that the Pinto was at least as safe as other vehicles in its class during that time.
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