1 IT WAS A FIRETRAP
The Pinto became notorious for its supposed ability to burst into flames when rear-ended, due to the fuel tank hitting the rear axle. In reality, it was no worse than comparable vehicles and better than Japanese rivals such as the Datsun 1200/210 and Toyota Corolla. US safety campaigner Ralph Nader also made claims that 500-900 people were killed in Pinto fires.
2 IT WAS THE USA’s FIRST SUB-COMPACT
The Pinto was one of the first American cars labelled as a ‘subcompact’, but the AMC Gremlin beat the Pinto to the sub-compact crown by five months (April 1970 versus September 1970). At least Ford managed to trump Chevrolet – the similarly-sized Chevy Vega debuted the day after the Pinto. And there had been previous comparably small American cars, such as the 1940s Crosley – but no-one had invented the term ‘sub-compact’ back then!
3 IT WAS NAMED AFTER ITS ENGINE
Which came first – the car or the engine? Actually, the Pinto engine appeared first, but was never officially known as such; Ford called it variously, EAO, OHC, T88series, Taunus In-Line or Lima InLine. It was created for European Fords, but was exported over the Atlantic and into the Pinto car, thus acquiring its common nickname because of that. The Ford Pinto model aped the Mustang by being named after a type of horse.
4 IT WAS THE FIRST US CAR WITH RACKAND-PINION STEERING
Unbelievably, this is actually true. What had become commonplace in Europe since the 1930s didn’t actually appear on an American car until it was featured on the 1974 Pinto. Richard Gunn It appears that the Pinto’s dubious reputation isn’t entirely deserved.