Friday, April 14, 2017

The Pinto

While scanning pictures awhile ago, I came across this one that reminded me of something I had forgotten about, my dad's Ford Pinto. My earliest memories of vehicles on the farm all revolve around this Pinto. It was always a beater of a car in my mind and I can't remember it ever being new though I suppose it was. The back hatch leaked like a sieve until my dad eventually duct taped it "permanently" closed and was driven for many years like that. Other memories are:

Going over to my grandfather's farm for Thanksgiving and forgetting to take the stick of butter we brought along inside. It melted and forever more the car always smelled like rancid butter on hot days.

The Pinto, flawed as it was, had one of the most reliable engines I've ever experienced in a car since. It would start under any temperatures and you never had to crank the starter. It everything was frozen solid, the Pinto would start up. In fact, after sitting behind the shed on the immediate right for a handful of years growing up in weeds, my dad eventually sold it to someone looking for a donor motor. My dad trickle charged the battery and it started right up even then.

Once, while trying to get through a rather deep mud puddle in a gate entrance, the Pinto slid sideways smashing into a post on the passenger side and caving in the front quarter panel. Years later, while sliding into our driveway one snowy, icy afternoon, my dad gunned it to prevent from getting stuck and hit the frozen pile of snow thrown up by the road grader caving in the driver's side front quarter panel. After that, it looked matched on both sides.

Rust eventually got the Pinto which is why it was sitting out behind the shed for a number of years. The drivers seat rusted through the floor pan and sat on the lines routed underneath. The brake lines also rusted out. The fellow who bought it for the engine, requested it delivered so my dad drove it 10 miles through the back gravel roads without brakes to deliver it.

My dad nicknamed it Verge. Not sure why and he doesn't remember or won't admit to why. I've named every car I've ever owned because that is what my dad did.

I'm not sure what is happening in the picture. I'm guessing my dad came home from some project due to the ladder and bucket nearby. He probably took a load in and came back to find my dog Ted laying in the back of the car like it was his doghouse.


Vince said...

Back in the day when they made a good car it stayed made. Of course those cars were a rarity usually made on a Wednesday between 10:15 and 10:35AM.

sage said...

My brother had one and you could cramp a lot in that hatchback... Thankfully the "crashes" weren't rear-end ones!

Ed said...

Vince - I've never heard that statistic about Wednesday between those two times but having worked in several factories over the year, I don't disagree with it.

Sage - Was the fuel tank issue on all Pinto's or only certain models? Fortunately it never got a lot of road miles as our main family vehicle was the Toyota Starlet that I would inherit and use to drive to college many years later.

Kelly said...

I love seeing Ted peeking out. :)

The rear hatches on SUVs seem to be so much better as far as leaking than what was on these old hatchbacks. I'm guessing they've gotten more proficient with the seals (as with sun/moon roofs) than it being anything about the angle.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

My earliest memories of cars in my family are of my dad's PURPLE pinto and my my mom's yellow mustang. I don't remember many stories about it, like your right and left damage, other than we called it the Purple People Eater. I don't think I had realized until you mentioned it that they were made by Ford. We were mostly a Ford family, so the pinto makes a bit more sense. We were also a horse family so I always enjoyed that those first cars were named after horses. :)
Great photo!

Ed said...

Kelly - I remember growing up, everyone who had a sunroof, had a leaky sunroof. When my wife got her last car with one, I figured it was a matter of time before it leaked. But it seems incredibly well sealed and it doesn't get opened very often.

Pumpkin Delight - Was purple a factory color?! I've seen many a yellow vehicle, especially mustangs but never a purple Pinto! My family has mostly been into earth toned vehicles though I do have a blue minivan now. It was the first non-earth tone color I've ever had. I think a lot of this has to do with me finding vehicle utilitarian and I like to haggle which means, negotiating for a vehicle that is sitting on the lot, usually the old model year leftovers. I'm guessing the flashy vehicles are usually the first to go.

Bob said...

Didn't Ford get into some kind of trouble with the Pinto? Seems I remember a class action lawsuit or something - maybe something to do with the rear when you got hit. Will have to research it.

I didn't have one but had a couple of buddies who did and they were extremely reliable. Unlike the Chevy Vega, a classic P.O.S. car. Had another friend who had one of those and can't recall the number of times we had to jump it at my house.