Oakland Street Sighting - 1979 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon
For a long time I had a Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon on my list of cars I wanted to find and shoot. Really, any surviving Pinto is special to me, but I love the wagons and the silly disco-era Cruising Wagon is just cool in its own goofy way. Who wouldn't want a four-cylinder compact wagon with all the custom touches of a full-size panel van? Sure, you can't fit a queen-size bed in the back of a Pinto wagon, but it has the porthole bubble window, tape stripes and maybe a roll of shag carpeting. Finishing the package are slotted forged aluminum wheels and rear window slats, the latter for keeping the interior cool or perhaps affording privacy to intimate contortionists. Unsurprisingly the car was marketed to surfers and young people.
The 1979 Pinto was nearly the end of the road for Ford's littlest 'pony' car. The 1971 (1972 for the wagon) body was getting old and Ford slapped on a square front end in an effort to make it resemble the new '79 Fox-body Mustang. In my opinion this updated the car's styling for the coming decade, but it also served to make the Pinto look generic and serious where it once was cute. Power came from a 2.3 liter four or a 2.8 liter V6, producing 88 or 102 horsepower respectively. This was the last year for a V6 Pinto.
My favorite Cruising Wagons are the earlier ones produced from 1977 to '78, but I won't shun a late model. This one is well-used but still wears most of its original factory color scheme of white with yellow, orange, red and dark red 'paint/tape treatment'. The diagonal stripes behind the windows should be joined to the B-pillar by a black painted area which is still partly visible on the passenger side but has faded. The body shows wear in the form of some dents and scrapes, with speckles of rust here and there. It's been places around California like SeaWorld in San Diego and of course Disneyland in Anaheim. Parts for the powertrain are still plentiful and the body isn't too far gone, so it's likely good for another bunch of years as long as it passes California's smog testing. I can dig it, can you?
California Streets is a blog that celebrates the history of the automobile in California. We feature old, interesting and often rare cars and trucks found parked on public streets and roads around the state of California.
I'm a delivery driver by trade, but I'm also a freelance artist and hobby photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area with a healthy interest in cars. I love finding and documenting fascinating old vehicles wherever I go.