Ford’s Pinto really wasn’t a miserable car to drive, thanks to its responsive rack-and-pinion steering and a gutsy overhead cam engine, but it became the poster car for Detroit’s arrogance after Mother Jones published the story “Pinto Madness,” which accused Ford of knowingly selling a car that could explode in a rear-impact accident.

Under pressure, Ford issued a recall and installed protective plastic gas tank shields. The Pinto remained in production until 1980, and more than 3 million were sold, but it never outlived its notoriety.

Still, like the Edsel and Corvair before it, the Pinto has a fan base, and those people will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the car’s introduction this year. Their marquee event will be a long-distance drive called The Pinto Stampede – a five-day, 1,660-mile trek across seven states from Denver, Colorado, to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the site of the Carlisle Ford Nationals. The Stampede begins on Sunday, May 29, and concludes on Thursday, June 2, in Carlisle, where the compact cars will lead a parade through the Pennsylvania town. Along the route, drivers in The  Pinto Stampede will visit Fort Reilly, Kansas, for Memorial Day services, take a lap around the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, circle the St. Louis Arch, take a lap of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and meet other Pinto owners at the Carlisle Ford Nationals.

The car show will feature a display of Pintos in all shapes and sizes, including rally-racing and drag-racing cars, coupes,  hatchbacks and wagons.

“Together, we will take in sights along the way, make lasting friendships and share in the odd looks from other drivers who suddenly come across a convoy of Pintos,” said Norman Bagi, “Trail  Boss” of The Pinto Stampede. “The Pinto’s reputation is unlike that of any other car. It has been the  brunt of jokes and unfairly attacked using exaggerated statistics. This is a celebration of a beloved little car.”

There will be a charity aspect to the Stampede: All proceeds from sponsorships and other fundraising efforts will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that helps soldiers returning home with disabilities regain normal lives.

“We want to take the opportunity to do something meaningful while having fun, so we included a charitable component to the Stampede,” Bagi said. “Wounded Warriors was a  logical choice. Drivers will solicit sponsors ‘per mile’ completed along the route. We hope to raise $10,000 for the charity.”

For more details, head over to or visit the group’s Facebook page.