In 1970s, small subcompact cars from other countries are starting to dominate the car sales in the United States and the smallest car in the North American Ford line up was the unappreciated Maverick. Suddenly, Ford Pinto came into the scene. A cheap car with fair performance on the streets.
Designed by Lee Iacocca, Ford Pinto weighs 2,000-pound and it has a $2,000 price tag. It broke into the market after it has accelerated two-year development cycle.
But then, its body structure can cause a fire if the car was crashed. This is because the fuel tank was located at the back and the rear axle housing could make contact to it. Having this set up can make the fuel spill and suddenly, this can cause fire.
On the other hand, let’s go back to this car’s promising run. Americans thought that small cars were exciting. These cars also have their own followers during the end of the famed muscle car wars in the start of the 1970s. Pinto was available with a 4-inline engine and bucket seats. Customers can also choose on either a manual or an automatic transmission. Pinto was a major hit during its 1970 release and almost 350,000 units were sold for the 1971 production even if it was available in one body style.
On February 1972, a new body style for Ford Pinto was introduced. The Pinto Station Wagon was the first 2-door Ford station wagon since 1961. It has several features to offer since its release, front disc brakes, faux wood side paneling and a 2.0L engine as standard equipment.
From 1970 up to 1974, the sales of Ford Pinto were increasing. To break down this number, in 1971 there are 352,402 cars that were produced. 480,405 units for 1972, 484,512 units in 1973 while 1974 was recorded as the highest production number with 544,209 units. Production started to decline in 1976. 1980 was the last year for Pinto’s production that ended with 185,054 units.
Ford Pinto, The Little Carefree Car?
Behind its 3.2 million sales, this car caused numerous tragic deaths. In 1971, only after two months since introduction, almost 26,000 units are recalled because it has a problem with the accelerator. Ford already fixed this issue with all the Pinto that were manufactured in March 19, 1971.
Ford Pinto earned a bad reputation because of that issue and it swelled up on 1977 when Mother Jones reported that Ford was aware of Pinto’s defects but they still ignored it.
The unusual fuel system of Ford Pinto was a serious case since it resulted to a number of lawsuits and the two most significant legal cases are the GrimShaw vs Ford Motors Company and State of Indiana vs Ford Motors Company. The safety designing of Pinto might have been skipped since the production of this car was rushed in order to compete with the growing number of imported cars that were starting to rise in the market.
Final Judgment For Ford Pinto
The million sales should result with positive feedbacks but it is not applicable for Pinto. This small car gathered a lot of negative feedbacks and it also gave Ford a bad reputation. You can usually find this car on numerous top ten list of worst cars and it rarely appeared on any article with positive reviews but still, many people who personally experienced this car says that this car is wasn’t that bad. Though, maybe they only said it because they survived while using it.
Reference and photo credits