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Pinto Madness

In September 1977, Mother Jones published an exposé by Mark Dowie, titled Pinto Madness, which delved into the history of the Ford Pinto subcompact and the trail of explosive accidents these cars left in their wake. Start the original 1977 article below, and read on at Mother Jones.

One evening in the mid-1960s, Arjay Miller was driving home from his office in Dearborn, Michigan, in the four-door Lincoln Continental that went with his job as president of the Ford Motor Company. On a crowded highway, another car struck his from the rear. The Continental spun around and burst into flames. Because he was wearing a shoulder-strap seat belt, Miller was unharmed by the crash, and because his doors didn’t jam he escaped the gasoline-drenched, flaming wreck. But the accident made a vivid impression on him. Several months later, on July 15, 1965, he recounted it to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that was hearing testimony on auto safety legislation. “I still have burning in my mind the image of that gas tank on fire,” Miller said. He went on to express an almost passionate interest in controlling fuel-fed fires in cars that crash or roll over. He spoke with excitement about the fabric gas tank Ford was testing at that very moment. “If it proves out,” he promised the senators, it will be a feature you will see in our standard cars.” Read more >


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