is a subcompact automobile that was produced by the Ford Motor Company for the 1971–1980 model years. The car's name derives from the Pinto horse. Initially offered as a two-door sedan, Ford offered "Runabout" hatchback and wagon models the following year, competing in the U.S. market with the AMC Gremlin and Chevrolet Vega, as well as imported cars from Volkswagen, Datsun, and Toyota. By January 1971, the Pinto had sold over 100,000 units.
Controversy followed the Pinto after 1977 allegations that the Pinto's structural design allowed its fuel tank filler neck to break off and the fuel tank, in rare occasions, to be punctured in a rear-end collision, resulting in deadly fires from spilled fuel.
According to a 1977 Mother Jones article, Ford allegedly was aware of the design flaw, refused to pay for a redesign, and decided it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits for resulting deaths. The magazine obtained a cost-benefit analysis that it said Ford had used to compare the cost of an $11 repair against the monetary value of a human life—what became known as the Ford Pinto Memo.
An example of a Pinto rear-end accident that led to a lawsuit was the 1972 accident that killed Lilly Gray and severely burned 13-year old Richard Grimshaw. The accident resulted in the court case Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co., in which the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District upheld compensatory damages of $2.5 million and punitive damages of $3.5 million against Ford, partially because Ford had been aware of the design defects before production but had decided against changing the design.