Engineering Issues and the Ford Pinto
Major Walker, III
The Ford Pinto was first introduced to the North American market in 1970. The Pinto was introduced primarily to compete in the small car market with where Volkswagen dominated. The way the Ford Pinto was designed tragically left rear-ends accidents up in flames. This is because the gas tank was positioned in between the bumper and the axle. This was normal for small cars except the Pinto also had filler neck that was ripped out on impact which caused gas to spill out and eventually ignite. Ironically, years before, Arjay Miller, president of Ford at that time (1965), testified to Congress that Ford would lead the way with a fabric gas tank that would prevent fires in rear end accidents stating that the fabric gas tank “will be a feature you will see on our standard cars.”(Birch, 1994 p.16) Seven years later, a woman and her son were in one of these accidents. Sadly the woman died and the son was left with a scarred body. Ford upper management understood the engineering issues because they rushed through planning and production, conducted in house crash tests, and later formed cost benefit analysis on the human life. One way Ford’s upper management did understand the engineering issues involved is through the planning and production phase of this project. Ford did, however, had the option to place the gas tank above the axle but objected to this because it limited the trunk space in the extended models like the wagon and hatchback. This would have saved many lives. The Pinto was rushed through planning (which usually takes 43 months) in about 25 months from conception to production. This meant that all the components of producing a car had to take place at the same time including tooling. Tooling usually doesn’t take place until all other components of planning and...