The Ford Pinto Controversy: Info for Young Car Collectors
As car collectors get younger, their car awareness does not include newsworthy events that predate the 1980s. This means that the newest car collectors do not know much, if anything, about the events surrounding the Ford Pinto. Since very few people drove the Pinto after the recalls in the 1970s, young car collectors have never seen them on the roads. There are not any celebrities who currently drive Pintos so they are not discussed on celebrity blogs. It’s almost as if the Ford Pinto has been successfully buried by those who do not want to show the flaws of the earlier days in the automotive industry.
Over 3 million Ford Pintos were sold between 1971 and 1980. The car was cheaply produced and sold cheaply, under $2000. The car was rushed to production by Lee Iacocca, who believed that safety was not a necessary worry for car makers. In the rush to production, the Pinto was designed with a gas tank positioned behind a bumper that was not reinforced. This meant that when the car was hit in the rear, the screws from the bumper could actually puncture the gas tank.
If the gas tank was punctured, then trouble ensued. The fumes from the gas tank could be sparked and set the car on fire. From 1971-1977, at least 500 people died in fires caused by this problem. In 1977, the magazine Mother Jones reported on this problem after it obtained an internal memo about the ordeal. This memo revealed how the Ford Motor Company felt about its customers and what they were worth to them.
For new car collectors who may not know anything about the Ford Pinto conspiracy, the math might seem unforgivable. According to the experts at Ford, the cost to make the fuel tank safe would have been about $11 per car, so the recall would have been $121 million. The experts at Ford conducted a little math of their own. They predicted that there might be about 2100 accidents in the next few years, which would results in Ford having to spend about $50 million in damages to those involved in the accidents. This means that Ford could spend less money just paying damages rather than issuing a recall. The lives of their customers were not worth an $11 part.
No wonder this controversy has not been shared with the newest car collectors.