The Ford Pinto: Never A Fast Muscle Car
By Mark Weisseg
I have a confession. My brother owned a 1976 Pinto. Four cylinder and a four speed. Bare bones car. Here’s the confession. We beat that car to death.
The coolant was like mud. The valve cover always leaked oil. We pulled a tree stump out with his car. But, it was slow, ugly and paid for. So, he beat it and I beat it.
I mean we would run every gear until the motor screamed and then shifted. He beat that car to death every day. And he never killed it. When I borrowed it I beat it. His theory then was an engine was made to run, so run it. No soft shifts. Carroll Shelby said the same kind of things about his cars. He said they were for driving not sitting.
So, this car the Pinto had a bad rap that the gas tank was too far in the back. If you got hit in the rear end hard enough the gas would leak out, catch fire and kill you. So, what did we do about this dire warning? Nothing of course.
We beat that car harder and harder. When I say beat I mean beat. There was never any smooth driving. He tried to kill that car. Tried and tried. He failed. Finally he sold it to moved up to a better car. He and I missed that Pinto. I missed beating a car without a care in the world what happened to it. We were young so who cares. Whatever we broke we could fix. But we never broke anything. Man do I miss hammering a car like that. I would never do that today.
The only time this usually happens these days is with a rental car. You use and abuse the thing, then give it back. A bit like some industrial machinery and this can be a nice outlet at times. Push it to its limit and see what happens.
I Sometimes miss the Pinto.
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