Raise your hands, those of you who’ve seen the spare lines of an early 1970s economy car like a Pinto or Vega and thought, “you know, those aren’t so bad looking, and it wouldn’t take much to make it into a better car to drive.” What, nobody? You’re in a safe environment here, like a support network, you can tell us your secrets. Okay, so there are a few – the guy who raced a Pinto in LeMons, someone else who threw a junkyard turbo on a fuel injected Yugo. Well, if you are prone to dreaming instead, you might as well find one that’s already done – check out this 1977 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon turbo for sale for $3000 in Portland, OR.
It would be most fun to drop a fancy engine into a grandma-spec 1971 Pinto hatch, but this is fun with an added dose of retro irony – the Cruising Wagon took something from the 1970s van craze, including sweet striping, pseudo-sporty wheels, and a porthole window for the back. Depending on who you are, you’ll either look at this car and think it looks like the usual Pinto junk, or, OR, you’ll notice the lowered stance, wide 1980s mesh wheels, missing grill with intercooler in its place, and you’ll wonder what the heck is going on in there.
The left rear view offers no further clues, but it does give you plenty of choices. How about full ironic mural air brushed on the side, preferably involving a predictable combination of bikini-clad, big-haired women, some sort of wild cat, and a rearing stallion? Or, you could go original with the white or black and sport stripes down the side. Full stealth is out of the question, so how about a dealership delivery van?
So here’s the answer to the question posed above. The car runs a 2.3 liter Pinto engine from a Turbo Aerobird, including improvements to the turbocharging, cooling, and intake/exhaust systems. Power goes through a T-5 transmission, with upgraded clutch and rear end as well. Brakes have been rebuilt, and the power rack & pinion system is new. For power way beyond what this car started with, you’ll probably want to figure out brake upgrades – even rebuilt original brakes sound questionable.
The interior has also seen its share of improvements, and the seller says it’s been a long-term project for him. There’s more insulation, Acura seats on Pinto tracks, auxiliary gauges that have been cleanly installed in the dash, and the rest of the original black interior is said to be in good shape. The car comes with many parts, including grill, good right fender, splash apron, and more. So it sounds like you’re some light bodywork and a paint job away from surprising anybody at the next stop light drag or classic car rally – what could be more fun?