I've been promising to get back to a FoMoCo Guilty Pleasure since the Lincoln Continental Mark V Givenchy Edition of more than a month ago, but then some stuff by Saab and Mazda distracted me from my patriotic American duties.

I'd thought of "honoring" the Ford Fiesta Ghia, but it turns out a lot of Europeans actually like that car, which takes away from the guiltiness of the pleasure (though I might return to the Fiesta anyway, since it symbolizes compromise and diminished expectations to Americans).

Speaking of diminished expectations, how about the heroic efforts made by Detroit to dress up their most miserable Malaise Era vehicles back in the late 1970s?

There was really no good way to make the Pinto seem fun, but Ford's marketers apparently decided to smoke a lid of Acapulco Gold in a four-foot bong and head to a Southern California van show… and they decided to apply what they saw to the Pinto wagon.

Hey, even Charles Bukowski was getting into the custom van thing back then, and why wouldn't he? So, Ford slapped some Lexan bubble windows and tape stripes on the Pinto wagon and the Pinto Cruising Wagon was born.

Yes, car buyers in 1978 could walk into a Ford showroom, tick a few boxes on the option list, and drive away in a factory-customized wagon suitable for STD-and-Quaalude-enhanced fornication. These things aren't easy to find, what with the Pinto's disposable nature and not-so-great build quality (though this guy has done a nice restoration), but I'm going to look.

You see, I was too young to appreciate the laugh-in-the-face-of-Malaise appeal of this fine vehicle, back when I was in junior high and thought I wanted to get a BMW E24 when I grew up, but now I understand the Cruising Wagon.

1978 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon

1978 Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon