The Ford Pinto is a subcompact car produced by the Ford Motor Company for the model years 1971–1980. Initially offered as a two-door sedan, the Pinto added hatchback and wagon models the following year. With over 3 million sold over a 10-year production run, the Pinto competed in the U.S. market against the AMC Gremlin and Chevrolet Vega — outproducing both by total production as well as by highest model year production. The Pinto also competed against imported cars from Volkswagen, Datsun, and Toyota.
A rebadged variant, the Mercury Bobcat, debuted in 1974 in Canada and in March 1975 in the US. The Pinto/Bobcat and the smaller, imported Ford Fiesta were ultimately replaced by the front-wheel-drive Ford Escort and Mercury Lynx. Pintos were manufactured in St. Thomas, Ontario; Edison, New Jersey at Edison Assembly; and in Milpitas, California at San Jose Assembly.
The Pinto’s legacy was affected by media controversy and legal cases surrounding the safety of its fuel tank design, a recall of the car in 1978, and a later study examining actual incident data that concluded the Pinto was as safe as, or safer than, other cars in its class.
The nameplate “Pinto” derives from the term for the distinctive white and solid pattern of coloration common in horses.