Pinto Madness: the Ford Pinto’s fire-prone gas tank

Mark Dowie, Pinto Madness. Mother Jones, 1 September 1977. “For seven years the Ford Motor Company sold cars in which it knew hundreds of people would needlessly burn to death.”

Excerpt from story:

An extensive investigation by Mother Jones over the past six months [March-August 1977] has found…:

  • Fighting strong competition from Volkswagen [3] for the lucrative small-car market, the Ford Motor Company rushed the Pinto into production in much less than the usual time.
  • Ford engineers discovered in pre-production crash tests that rear-end collisions would rupture the Pinto’s fuel system extremely easily.
  • Because assembly-line machinery was already tooled when engineers found this defect, top Ford officials decided to manufacture the car anyway—exploding gas tank and all—even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank.
  • For more than eight years afterwards, Ford successfully lobbied, with extraordinary vigor and some blatant lies, against a key government safety standard that would have forced the company to change the Pinto’s fire-prone gas tank….