Cold Start: Look At This Lineup

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Are you having trouble getting motivated this morning? I get it; work is, well, work, and sometimes productivity is a hard thing to move into, saddled with the inertia of pleasant non-productivity from the weekend. You know what might help? Maybe a refreshing spoonful of schadenfreude.

Just imagine you’re 1978 Ford and almost half your lineup is this: a Pinto, a Granada, and the Mustang II. Somehow, you need to sell as many of these dogs as you can, and you know damn well what they really are: an exploding deathtrap (albeit with an excellent engine), a disappointing sequel to a legendary car, and a car that marketing keeps trying to insist is as good as a Mercedes, which it very much isn’t.

They got through it and now make things like the wonderful, cheap Maverick. If they did it, so can you.

You know, if I had to drive one of these today, I’d go for the low end: I’d genuinely like a first-gen Ford Fiesta like that yellow one there, and I’d be lying if I said that Pinto doesn’t have some appeal, too.

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57 Responses

  1. I actually liked the overall styling of the later 70’s Ford line up, except the Granada, for the era. The problem with every single one of them was Ford not giving a styling crap about the bumpers and just tacking on the mandated ones. Sure, they sorta tried with the Mustang II by color coding, but really, this was an era where the US manufacturers resisted the safety mandates and didn’t bother to spend anything on actual integration.

  2. I’ve lived long enough to have experienced most of that lineup.

    I actually owned a 1st Gen. Fiesta and love it. It was a nimble little German car that, while not particularly fast, was fun to drive. My mom had a brown metallic Pinto wagon that wasn’t nearly as fun to drive, but actually kind of looked pretty good. Still, it was a generally crappy car.

    The LTD II was just a rebranded Elite, which wasn’t all that bad for a Malaise Era car. The same with the LTD. We had both when I was a kid, and both were big gas-guzzlers that weren’t likely to go much past 100K miles before they gave up the ghost–typical for cars of that era.

    I took Driver’s Ed in a Granada. It wasn’t the answer to European cars Ford seemed to think it was. The main impression I got was that the car was somewhat fragile.

    I knew a few people who had Mustang IIs. I think the car actually got a bad rap–it was better than it was ever given credit for. I think most of the gripes people had about it had more to do with the way Ford built cars in general in the ’70s. That and the fact that they tried to market it as a little personal luxury car with the Ghia, which was a colossal mistake. People who wanted a personal luxury car were going to buy a T-Bird or an LTD II. Mustang buyers wanted performance cars.

    While offering a four-cylinder in the Mustang II was a reasonable choice for an oil crisis car, not initially offering a V8 was a bad call. Ford should have stuck with selling the Mustang as a performance car from jump street. The factory-built Cobra II with the 302 was actually a pretty capable sports car by ’70s standards.

  3. It is fun to think about how cool these cars were but thank your lucky stars you didn’t have to live with them. They were all ill-built pieces of crap. My girlfriends Fiesta would leave her stranded regularly. Just quit for an hour or so. Between her mechanic, Father and I we replaced or rebuilt everything and it still happened. My sisters V8 Maverick would not idle. Just wouldn’t. Wheel bearings every year if not sooner. Interior fell apart. My dad had a Torino with a 351 Cleveland. Cool, huh? No. Ate driveshafts. Ate ball joints. Ate steering components with abandon. And of course it wouldn’t idle and the interior fell apart. Pieces of crap all of them.

  4. My first car was a ’78 Zephyr, so I already have a bit of a soft spot for the Fairmont. Zephyr was better looking, though, and I was always disappointed that the Fox body Mustangs never really looked like Mustangs.

    I owned two Mustang IIs, a ’76 with the 3.8 German V6, and a ’77 with the 2.3 4 cylinder into which my buddy unfortunately installed a horsepower cam that came at the expense of all off-idle torque, which was deathly in an automatic car. But otherwise I liked both a lot. They just needed fatter wheels. And they were both notchbacks. As much as I love T-tops, the fastbacks look way too much like Pintos. And Pintos… Ugh.

    1. I remember them all so very well, too!

      Our family had Pintos, and we all lived to tell the story.

      Tiny correction: The V6 was a 2.8L engine, and actually had adjustable valves.

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