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Is it possible they made only about 200 Pintos, but they all got passed around a lot?

Maybe you guys all had the same Pinto, just at different times.

If you think about it, you see absolutely everything at Cars and Coffee - Ford Falcons, AMC Gremlins, even Yugos. Some guys have no shame.

But never a Pinto.

Some cars didn't survive because they were good demolition derby cars.

But that can't be said of the Pinto.

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"The shop Foreman screamed"   I had a Vega GT w/a 4 speed , if I down shifted ata a higher rpm it would back fire, took it back the the Dealer 3 times to get the muffler replaced because it would blow open at the seam. ( think turning off the key and back on again)

On the 4th new muffler visit the shop foreman goes for a ride with me in the passenger seat . He runs the car to about 60 and then drops a gear ( I cover my ears ) that's when the muffler and tailpipe exhaust system retorts parting company with the rest of the car . "Post scream" ...the fix was my local Chevron station guy replaced the $60 EGR exhaust diverter valve.

Sorry about bringing that painful memory back, Alan. I actually liked my Vega GT when it wasn't coughing up oil, putting a rod through the block or stranding my Mom and little sister on the railroad crossing with a train coming.

I was actually a little bit cross with my Mom for getting a big guy to help her push it out of the path of the train. It could have saved me a lot of future time pulling the engine, again and again. The flaw was a smog control device built with a short wiring harness. The engine rocking broke a wire that grounded out the engine spark. I mention the details to add weight to my assertion that the Vega was a Pinto with a bowtie.

Ah, memories of youth. When life was easy.

We had a Pinto wagon with the 2.3 engine.  It was a good engine, except for really sucky valve stem seals made of soft ceramic or something (maybe compressed pound cake?  I dunno).  They would only last about 75K miles.

I found out a little late, that the cause of the huge cloud of blue smoke around us every time we stopped at a light was those bad seals, but that was after I replaced the first engine over a weekend (I was commuting to a company place in southern NH back then and really needed the car).  

I bought a rear window with the defroster wires in it from the dealer (the car didn't come with that) and installed that myself with the greased cord trick, but then I needed a dash switch to turn it on so asked around at work to see what might pop up.  We were working for a defense electronics company back then and one of the engineers gave me a push on/push off switch for an F-15 that simply stated:  

Speed
Brake
Deploy

I often wondered what the second owner thought that was for.....  And how long it took for them to try it.  

The Pinto and the Fairlane both were dangerous ! They both used the top of the gas tank as the rear trunk floor to save weight and a piece of sheet metal. This was the primary problem in a rear end collision. The tank would get sheared open by the surrounding trunk floor and spill gas all over inside and out. The Fairlane was rarely ever mentioned but it had the same problem. One good thing that came out of the Pinto was their two liter, 4 cyl. engine.  It came with a 5 main bearing crank and a cross-flow cylinder head.   (the intake manifold was on one side of the head and the exhaust manifold on the other side). A super strong, high-rev, super good breathing engine.   I would love to have a 300 CID, Ford 6 cyl engine with a cross-flow head. I would use it in a Hybrid Lotus 7............Fun stuff !..................Bruce

I'm afraid I have to correct you, Bruce. The early Mustangs had the trunk floor/gas tank combo, but our Pintos didn't.  The safety issue with them was that the filler neck would pull out of the tank an a rear-end collision, spraying everything down with the tank contents - with the inevitable result.  Another cost-cutting measure on what could have been a decent little car.  They actually drove pretty well (for the time) when nothing was breaking or being run into.

I stand corrected. Thanks Lane for catching that. It was the Mustang and the mid size Fairlane.  We were involved in  testing the Fairlane for potential use as a Patrol car for La County Sheriff Dept. We heard about the Pinto "Let um Burn" letter and did more research on the data collected and provided by NHTS  and found that they discovered an issue with the tanks shearing open. Regardless, we disqualified the Fairlane because of this. Our issues were the unsafe rear end collision potential and that we kept the Officers shotgun mounted in the trunk at that time and had one incident where the Officer somehow discharged one through the floor of the car.  That year (1966) we purchased full sized Chevy's with 396 V-8's. No A/C and no power brakes ! I thought they were dangerous !................Bruce

@aircooled posted:

The Pinto and the Fairlane both were dangerous ! They both used the top of the gas tank as the rear trunk floor to save weight and a piece of sheet metal. This was the primary problem in a rear end collision. The tank would get sheared open by the surrounding trunk floor and spill gas all over inside and out. The Fairlane was rarely ever mentioned but it had the same problem. One good thing that came out of the Pinto was their two liter, 4 cyl. engine.  It came with a 5 main bearing crank and a cross-flow cylinder head.   (the intake manifold was on one side of the head and the exhaust manifold on the other side). A super strong, high-rev, super good breathing engine.   I would love to have a 300 CID, Ford 6 cyl engine with a cross-flow head. I would use it in a Hybrid Lotus 7............Fun stuff !..................Bruce

I clearly remember the Pinto debacle as Ford not wanting to put in a simple metal shield behind the differential, which would pierce the tank in a rear-end collision. I think the shield would have cost only a few dollars back then.

Mike, I had a 74 Vega GT. Wasn't a bad car overall, except for the crappy GM aluminum cylinder plating process. Didn't last more than 75k without needing a hone, new rings, and/or steel sleeves. Maybe they lengthened the wire by 1974? I had none of your issues or Alan's exploding muffler.

FWIW, the Pinto engine (the 2300) was worlds better than GMs dime-store Nicasil attempt. Best-man Steve was going to put some euro go-fast stuff on it before discovering that Hooker made an engine swap header for a Windsor, and the rest was history.

Fun fact: Ford used a single progressive Weber carb as well as that crossflow head on the Pinto. My '73 Opel Manta (purchased for $50) used the same carb. My senior engines project was to get the Opel running in top kit. Day 2 of class, I unbolted the carb from best-man Steve's 2300 (up in the pallet racking by then) on the Opel, plugging every vacuum line except the distributor advance. I spent the rest of the semester sitting on the hood of that car eating an entire bag of Dolly Madison powdered sugar donettes (washed down with coffee from the percolator I brought in) every day.

I got an "A".

I wasn't allowed to take auto shop. Lord knows I wanted to.

Take computers(yawn) and Spanish(yawn again) they said. Programming a TRS-80(Radio Shack) PC clone in basic, and saving programs on friggin' audio cassette tapes! What a crock. My Speeduino ECU has way more power than that rudimentary PC on DOS.

The Pinto engine is still not a bad engine, especially once they fixed the valve seals. We don't even have them on aircooled stuff.

The one engine I hated was the GM Iron Puke 151 cu.in. boat anchor. What a POS. Another crapbox? The Citation. Anybody who bought one should get a citation for being stupid!

Last edited by DannyP

When I was in school shop class was for the guys who weren't going to college.  Lord knows that wasn't me!

In retrospect that was pretty stupid.  Learning meaningful skills doesn't only happen in a lecture hall or lab.

I took every shop class offered by Tremont High School from 1977 until I graduated, and every English class as well (that you Mrs. Evans). I was the editor of the school newspaper in Senior Journalism, which meant I could write an editorial criticising some aspect of school administrative policy every other week. Principle Butts was not amused, but it was as close to a "get out of jail free" card as I was going to get in 1980/81.

No electronics courses were offered, and programming was some black art for college kids. Only girls took keyboarding (which was called "typing" back then) or accounting classes.

I tried one day of community college 2 years after graduation. I got through the first third of a Humanities lecture, and walked over to the admissions office to get my money back. By the time I was really ready to be a student, I was married and had 2 kids with one on the way. I compensated by reading voraciously - everything from Plato to Kierkegaard. I got a "great books" list and just started plowing through books that I thought a well read person ought to read. Nobody actually reads most of them unless they've been assigned, but I was the weird kid who did. I read that list for three years, until the pace of life just overtook my desire.

Everything worked out in the end. I found a trade that pushed buttons inside me that I didn't know I had, and I've had a much happier life fixing refrigerated supermarket cases than I ever would have teaching Western History.

@edsnova posted:

Why'd you hate the Pontiac 4, Danny? Simple, durable, easy to work on and, by bore and stroke, the Iron Duke was basically half a Z-28 engine and probably could've been built to perform on that par.

Here's Hemmings on the real story (I also thought the 4-cylinder option in my '67 Chev was an "Iron Duke"). Nope.

Because it's a really heavy, industrial lump that makes no power? Because if I want pushrods it should be aircooled, flat, and 4 cylinders.

I'm not a big fan of most things GM. Look at the Fiero: Chevette front suspension and Citation front clip moved to rear mid-engine. That's a real parts bin special there. The only somewhat smart thing they did was put the fuel tank down the center tunnel, good for handling and impact protection. But they powered it with an Iron Puke. What a dog.

@DannyP posted:

if I want pushrods it should be aircooled, flat, and 4 cylinders.

I'll respectfully disagree.

There is no engine producing more power for less money than the GM LS/LTs, Ford V8s, and Dodge Hemis. Pushrod engines all, making more usable power, more reliably and for a lot less money than any Asian or European OHC engine.

The LS/LT in particular is a miracle of engineering and manufacturing, and may well be the high-water mark for industrial production (and perhaps of civilization).

OHC engines are unduly complex, and do not make enough additional power to offset the complexity. They're cool, no doubt - but during the recent Porsche 547 love-in, all I could think was how much more desirable a nice, big T4 is by any objective metric. I feel the same way about almost all European V8s - they're crazy complex, crazy expensive, and not much more powerful than their 'murican pushrod counterparts.

The supercharged, dry-sumped LT5 crate engine made 755 hp at 6500 RPM, and cost about $19K dressed and ready to install. a Hellephant Mopar 426 supercharged crate engine makes 1000 hp and sells for $30k, out the door.

Pushrod V8s are where it's at.

Hating the Iron Duke seems to me just the same as hating the Malaise Years in general. GM screwed the pooch by making an aluminum L4 and putting an iron head on it. I mean, yeah, there were many other sins invested in the Vega program but that one epitomizes the project. The Vega's entire engineering ethic was akin to the scene in "Dumb and Dumber" wherein, somewhere in Kansas, the fuzzy van gets traded straight across for a moped.

The Duke was the next logical step. But instead of utter failure on all fronts, what was produced was...

A generally reliable lump which (like everything else of that era) made disappointing power at a low redline.

In the context of the Carter years, that was progress.

Now as to the Fiero? The story is well-trod, and we all know it by now. The car was a hodgepodge of compromises hemmed by budget considerations. And damned if it didn't almost work. By the time it was canceled almost every stupid mistake had been remedied. Alas, that is the story of GM during the time of Rivethead.

@barncobob posted:

nothing sweeter sounding than a Porsche boxer six winding up

I wondered when we'd get to that.

I've made my thoughts on "the sound" as a metric of anything tangible known before. The automotive press (or what passes for it these days) all wax glassy eyed about "the sound" a car makes, as if there's no greater virtue for an engine to possess.

There is. Power. Power and reliability. The Porsche flat 6 is not especially powerful and pretty horribile from a reliability standpoint. And cost. Any engine Porsche builds or has built is horribly expensive for the power and reliability obtained from it.

What they do build are very, very special cars - a nearly ideal combination of beautiful shape, careful and thoughtful assembly, and otherworldly ride and handling. They ooze "quality". They're worth what the sell for, but the engines themselves haven't been a strong suit since... well ever (3.2L Carrera engine excepted). The early 6s had problems with the engine cases, the cam chains were always klugy (until they figured it out with the 3.2), the 964 and 993 were a mess of complexity. And the 996? The 996 and 986 were time-bombs, waiting to eat themselves. The ship was righted with the 997.1 and 987.1, but the damage to the legacy of the Sainted German Engineer (IMHO) has been done. They've made as many mistakes as the powertrain engineers at GM, and maybe more.

Scratch that, definitely more.

From my practical vantagepoint, Danny's exactly right - if the engine in any Boxster, Cayman, or water-cooled 911 blows, there's one logical choice for replacement: an LS/LT Chevrolet. That makes me a mullet-wearing, mouth-breathing, NASCAR watching, blue-collar fanboy, and it's sacrilege to the keepers of the flame - which is why it's so very, very appealing to me.

I'd love to roll into a PCA meeting, with my gen-you-wine Porsche VIN, and have a modified LS engine sitting behind the seats to cause the faithful to soil their bermuda shorts. I'd make sure it was displayed so everybody could see it, and then I'd use it to blow the doors off of every single vehicle there.

Such a device would be rendered essentially worthless as a museum piece, which is another reason to love it.

Back to the sound - any engine in a good state of tune, from a 125 hp 2-stroke single coming on the pipe to a 1000 hp supercharged pushrod V8 sounds fantastic. I've come to LOVE the "angry bumblebee" sound of a 2L pushrod air-cooled flat 4 in the heart of the powerband. I'll agree that an air-cooled Porsche 6 spinning up to 6500 RPM sounds like angels singing, but it also sounds a lot like something really, really expensive might happen soon (at least to me, anyhow).

A cammed V8 with all the appropriate go-fast stuff spinning that same 6500 RPM sounds pretty special as well.

Last edited by Stan Galat
@Stan Galat posted:


…an air-cooled Porsche 6 spinning up to 6500 RPM… sounds a lot like something really, really expensive might happen soon…



That’s how I’ve always felt about my engine over 5000, so that’s where I stop. The builder claims it’s safe to 6200, so am I being a wuss?

At those revs, I don’t hear angels singing. They sound more like the loan officer at my credit union.

I will note that I’ve logged about 33,000 miles on this engine, and so far, no blue smoke.

It's interesting to be talking about sounds in these days of new cars having fake engine sounds being piped into passenger compartments.

Then, there is the question about what electric cars should sound like.

I took a little device (thanks, cheap Chinese stuff on fleabay!) and put a recording of the Jetsons car sound on it.

Placed in the front end of our LEAF it made an appropriately amusing sound that kept parking lot pedestrians from wandering into our path.

It died after a few weeks (EMPI?) and went the way of many of my harebrained schemes.

@Stan Galat posted:

A forged crank with forged pistons and H-rods and heads with dual valve-springs will hold together kissing 7000 RPM from time to time. I try not to spin past 6000.

Sometimes I fail.

I have used a 6500 hard limit for almost 45k. I rebuilt the top end of my 2165, but the case and bottom end are as-delivered from Jake, with the exception of the pressure plate.

My oil pressure is perfect, endplay was still 0.004".

Last edited by DannyP

When I was in school shop class was for the guys who weren't going to college.  Lord knows that wasn't me!

In retrospect that was pretty stupid.  Learning meaningful skills doesn't only happen in a lecture hall or lab.

Yup Lane. When I was in high school the kids who were going to college like me didn’t take shop or typing. In retrospect they would have been the most useful classes I could have taken. And it’s obvious to me that some of the most brilliant folks on this site took these classes and didn’t go to college. Framed pieces of paper on the wall in no way equates to intelligence or success.

We had shop class through junior high and then the curriculum changed depending on major (college course, business or trades).   My school was no where near big enough then to offer automotive shop or electronics technician or healthcare courses (all we had was metal shop or wood shop), but it did offer typing which everyone, college, business or trades, had to take.  We all hated it, but it probably saved our cookies later in life.   BTW, my class had only 108 people in it.  I know some of you came from schools with a whole lot more (and Stan came from that one-room schoolhouse in Morton with 12 students)    

Sometime in the 1980’s a regional vocational school was started locally for all those trade courses and a whole lot more and they have done a terrific job of preparing young people for the local job markets.  My old company, and several others locally, invested heavily in that school to insure a steady stream of hardware and software technicians for us and it paid off big time.  It soon became a badge of honor for kids to say that they were going to “Blackstone Valley Vocational”.   Before the pandemic, we used to go there once a month or so for lunch at their student-run restaurant and it was always excellent.

And like a lot of companies, mine would pay for follow-on courses once you had a year or two working for us, so some of those techs went on to later get their college degrees without being crushed by student loan debt.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

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