1973 Ford Pinto Squire: Brougham on a budget?
I can hear it now: “Klockau, we get it, we know you like Broughams, but a Pinto? Come on!” It’s OK, I haven’t gone off my rocker, but some of these first subcompacts from Ford, particularly the Squire wagon and the coupes and hatchbacks with the LDO (or Luxury Decor Option) package, definitely gave off a bit of a Brougham vibe.
But no one’s going to confuse this with an LTD, Marquis, or Continental Mark IV. I mean, it’s a Pinto, for crying out loud. But in 1973, when this baby blue Squire came off the line, Lee Iacocca was essentially running the show despite his name not being on the building, and one thing Lee loved was Brougham.
Yes, Brougham. Chrome, whitewalls, extra side trim, luxury wheel covers, the whole bit. And don’t forget the simulated wood! And, of course, on the Pinto Squire it was inside and out, thanks to the Di-Noc festooned flanks.
Ask folks of a certain age about the Ford Pinto, and you could either get an earful about a rust-bucket lemon, or about a car that just kept on running for years, or about certain yellow journalism from the ’70s that singled the tiny Ford out for a design that many other contemporary cars also had.
If you were born before 1980 (the last year the Pinto was made, incidentally), odds are someone either had one, knew someone (or several someones) who had one, delivered pizzas in one, went on crazy college road trips in one, and so on.
Once upon a time they were everywhere, thanks to a cheap price and the increasing interest in smaller cars as the 1970s dawned.
Along with archrival Chevrolet, the first Ford subcompact came out for the 1971 model year. Initially offered only as a two-door sedan or two-door hatchback (termed “Runabout” by Ford marketing), it was base priced at $1919 ($13,867 today); a Runabout was $2062 ($14,900).
It sold like dollar beer at a baseball game—288,606 sedans and 63,796 runabouts were delivered for the model year. The runabout/hatchback was not initially available; it debuted several months later at the 1971 Chicago Auto Show.
But the big news for the 1972 Pinto was the addition of a two-door station wagon. It immediately became a healthy seller. Initially offered at $2293 ($16,054), 101,483 were sold for the ’72 model year. That same year, 181,002 sedans and 197,920 runabouts were produced.
As previously mentioned, from the beginning lots of dress-up and comfort/convenience options were available, but don’t get the idea this could be optioned to mini-LTD specifications. You couldn’t get power windows, power locks, or even wire wheel covers.
But you could get the Cruise-O-Matic automatic transmission, full wheel covers, whitewall tires, a leather wrapped steering wheel, electric rear window defroster, dual color-keyed sport mirrors, metallic “Glow” paint choices, and an AM/FM stereo.
But the real flossy version was the Luxury Decor Option, which was available on all Pintos and included a vinyl insert body-side protection molding, full wheel covers, bright wheel lip moldings, and bright rocker-panel moldings.
But inside was where you really saw the difference, with pleated cloth or vinyl trim, fancier door panels with wood-tone trim, cut-pile carpeting, deluxe steering wheel, wood-tone-accented shift lever and parking brake lever, rear seat ash tray (trust me, this was a big deal in 1973), and more.
But wait! As someone rather famous one said, there’s even more! If you ponied up (pardon the pun) for the Squire option, you got as nice a Pinto as was possible in 1973.
As the 1973 Ford Wagons brochure said (of course I have a copy), the Squire Option was “a beautiful complement to the Pinto Wagon, and a Ford Wagonmaster innovation.” I’m not sure where the innovation was, as in 1973 you could get a Vega Estate across town at your local Chevy dealer. But who knows what the FoMoCo marketeers discussed with their lunchtime martinis?
At any rate, the Squire included all of the Pinto Accent Group and Luxury Decor Group features, plus the woodgrain-clad sides and liftgate. To that, one could also add optional SelectAire air conditioning and tinted glass for an extra plush Pinto.
A 1973 Pinto wagon started at $2319 ($15,285), though naturally the Squire goodies and other options would bump that tally higher. This was the year the Wagon became the most popular Pinto, with an impressive 217,763 sold, along with 150,603 Runabouts and 116,146 sedans. That would dip some in a few years, but as previously mentioned, the car made it all the way to the 1980 model year before being replaced by the front-wheel-drive Escort. And yes, a Squire option was available to the end.
Escorts and Pintos, sigh. They used to be absolutely EVERYWHERE, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one today. The cheap and cheerful price, 1970s-style rustproofing (or rather, the lack thereof), and the fact that most of these cars had the bark beaten off of them means there are few survivors today despite extremely impressive production. I’ve only seen two in person at shows, the Light Blue ’73 featured today and this Clark Griswold-approved green ’74.
I first saw the green one at the 2013 Railroad Days show in Galesburg, Illinois. Back then it was held in Standish Park, near the Knox County Courthouse, and was a great location. Though it’s since moved to Main Street, it is still a great annual event that draws a bunch of interesting cars.
I see both Pintos at several shows a year, including the most recent 2022 show season. They always make me smile. I just like the uncommon stuff, I guess; I’ll walk past a row of red Corvettes and resto-mod Camaros to look at a Cordoba, Granada … or a Pinto!
And while I am still atop my soapbox, may I say that if we’re apparently no longer going to be getting many station wagons or sedans from manufacturers anymore, can we at least get some wood sides for our combovers? Please?
Great stuff! This is what makes the car hobby so much fun. A little bit of everything for everyone!
I had a red one,a 72′ in Ohio, I bought in 1976.. I kept that one, it had an 8 track,and a 4 speed manual transmission. I was hit head on in 1980. I then bought a 68′ Torino,not a fastback, with a 289 engine.I blew the engine going through the San Bernardino mountains. I bought a 74 blue Pinto
In 73 I bought a squire wagon it was yellow 4 banger 4 speed broken in on the autobahn in Germany loved that car but upon returning to the states it won’t run worth a s___ an it started rusting out sea shipments. Sold it a got a oldsmobile vista cruiser wagon 455 l now have a 67 2dr galaxy ton of $ to make it right. Which I had my old 73 to fix up
So great to see the Brahmin of Broughamage giving props to one of my favorite wagons, though including it in the brougham universe may be stretching it a bit. I would love to exchange my trusty T & C minivan for a Pinto Squire. It would make hoisting 4×8 sheets of plywood and drywall onto the roof rack so much easier.
The Oldsmobile and Buick wagons of the ’70s-’90s as well as the Mercury Colony Park and Ford LTD were probably a bit more closely aligned with the brougham ideal than a Pinto. But the sheer elegance of the Pinto design makes it a Really Useful Wagon in a nice compact package.
Another fine article, Mr. Klockau. Keep them coming.
The 4×8 plywood should fit INSIDE the mini van and bring lift height way down. Like the wagons, and also the less traditional stuff at shows.
Mom gave me her Pinto, and we loved that car, up until the day it died, with 78,000 miles on the clock.
Beautiful memories. My first NEW car was the 1973 Pinto wagon. I was 18 years old. 2000cc motor, 4 speed, metallic blue with deluxe black interior. In two years everything drivetrain “wore out” and fell apart literally. I installed a drivetrain from a 1968 Mustang, 302V8, auto and V8 rearend. Buick cross flow radiator, wheel adaptors, same size tires all around. I still have the junkyard receipt, $404. I talked to Gapp and Roush, Jack Roush about their V8 conversion kit. I did not have to move the battery. Cruised Van Nuys blvd. many nights. Thanks to this wagon, I just purchased a 1966 Ford Country Sedan wagon, 390 V8 C6 auto project. My license plate frame is “I survived CA$H for CLUNKERS” !
I recall a friend in high school whose parents owned one of these.
If I recall it had a V6 and all the options.
The reason I recall a V6 is the plugs were a royal pain to change.
The green on made me think. If you hate it now just wait till you drive it tag line from the Truckster Deluxe. Lol!
In 1976 I had a ’74 Runabout. 4-speed, AM radio, black vinyl interior, no a/c. Didn’t care about the lack of amenities; I had wheels. It never stranded me (or caught fire, as the news of the time suggested.) These photos brought back a whole bunch of good memories.
My first car was my Mom’s hand-me-down 1974 Pinto Squire in 1978. Lemon lime exterior. Green (plaid?) interior.
The 3 speed slush box, weight distribution, and skinny tires made for a great World Rally imposter on the dirt roads of Central Texas. My parents wondered why the shocks and motor mounts needed to be replaced…
My $120 71 mustard color Pinto (and this was in 1977–only 45K miles on it) was my winter beater while I parked the big block 65 Fury while in college. It was pre rusted (plywood on the drivers floor), no back fenders to speak of–or back shocks, they were gone. Driven for two WI winters and sold to a huge biker for $175 on graduation day. Glad I was leaving town didn’t want to see him again!
This was the first and last ford I would buy. A lemon
Wow Thomas! I find it hard to believe you found not only two Pinto Wagons, that weren’t completely rotted with rust, but both were wood side models! Very cool!
Had one just like that green one. Second best car I ever owned. First was my Aztek. Not really, but I have had them both. Fond memories of that handy little bugger. My 80 pound Airedale loved it!
Thomas – May I offer a suggestion? If you’re going to use your phone to shoot photos for Hagerty articles, it’s time to get a better phone/camera. In the article, at their smaller size, they aren’t bad. But when you click on them for the hi-res image the quality falls apart. This seems a shame for what is otherwise a great article.
Amen! There are some very good phone cameras nowadays. Or, get a REAL camera, which I still far prefer to use. Your articles are usually very good; sharper pictures would help them be even better.
Clicking on images in any Hagerty article never helps me but “Stretching” them goes a long way.
My Dad was a Ford dealer from the late sixties to the mid 70’s…When the Pinto came out in 71 my mother instantly gravitated to it as her “demonstrator”… She always like small cars , a decade earlier she loved the VWBeetle as well as the Corvair …Her favorite Pinto model was the Station Wagon and it remained her fav. car until my father became a Toyota dealer then she switched to the Corolla…
Does anyone else notice the gawdawful asymmetric design of the plastic trim around the front wheel arches? ‘Murica.
Only looks that way in photos. Besides, they’re not plastic- they’re aluminum with di-noc cladding.
Don’t know where ‘Murica is, but I imagine it’s near the “Land ‘o Snide Remarque”.
When my older brother turned 16, he bought a 1973 Pinto 2 door. He installed a Craig 8-track under dash to supplement the in dash AM. It was yellow. 4 speed. I recall going to the dealer to pick it up. They had a 1972 Maverick still on the lot for LESS money than the Pinto. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t go with that. He drove the heck out of that car until he replaced it in 1979 with – an RX-7! That must have been a shock in power!The interior of his was identical to your pictures except for the fake wood.