Monday, February 29, 2016

Ford's Controversial, Good-Selling Pinto

Ford Motor Company introduced its first American-designed four cylinder compact car in the fall of 1970.  It was called the Pinto and was sold over the 1971-1980 model years, total production exceeding three million units.  A link containing useful detail regarding the Pinto is here

Initial Pintos were two-door sedans.  Hatchback (three-door) and station wagon models were added later.  For the 1979 model year Pintos received a facelift.

As best I recall, the only Pintos I ever drove were station wagons equipped with automatic transmissions.  The German-based motors didn't have enough power to cope with that transmission, so performance was sluggish (a problem shared by many other four-cylinder cars during the 1970s and 80s).

Pinto styling was professionally pleasant.  A more detailed evaluation of 1971 Pinto styling follows:


Pintos had a rear-wheel-drive layout, but the amount of front overhang seems more consistent with front-wheel-drive cars.  I would prefer a slightly longer wheelbase and larger wheels, but it seems Ford engineers had other ideas or priorities to deal with.  The large windows give the Pinto a light, airy look when viewed from this angle.  The fold along the middle of the side helps unify the design.  It and the fading crease lower down help to further lighten the appearance.

The thick C-pillar and fastback make the rear seem heavier -- in contrast to the frontal view.  The trapezoidal shape of the panel housing the tail lights echoes the treatment of the headlight housing area up front.

Side view in which the artist reduced the height of the car.

A nice publicity photo taken from a higher-than-normal point of view.  This shows the simple grille design, part of the clean, uncluttered look of the Pinto.  But the styling has enough curves, creases, angles and other details that the overall composition is interesting to look at.  No wonder the car sold well despite some serious engineering flaws.

No comments: