1972 Ford Pinto

My neighbor has a 1972 Ford Pinto which she has owned since it was new. She is having a problem finding a mechanic the she can trust that can work on the call. Everyone she takes it to either cannot work on that model and year, or just gives her the runaround. Is there a garage or mechanic in the Los Angeles area that can help her. The car is currently running very poorly.

Take it to any good independent mechanic. The '72 Ford Pinto is very easy to work on. I can’t think of anything that’s very complex on the car at all.

Agree but add the following, gray hair.

I’m not surprised. You can go to any decent shop these days and find a 30 year old tech, pretty much at the top of his game, and he won’t know what the heck a carburetor or a set of points does. They don’t teach these kinds of things at voc/tech school anymore, it’s not a vital part of automotive service anymore. Float gauges and timing lights and dwell meters just aren’t part of the tool arsenal anymore. Working on that car either isn’t profitable or if it is, the customer balks at the price. People wonder why it costs $500 to rebuild an old Quadrajet. It’s because I can make more than that in the same timeframe working on newer things.

There used to be a place called Lewis Carburetor, on Western Ave and Marine in Gardena. Looks like they’re still there. Maybe the can help or steer you in the right direction.

“I can’t think of anything that’s very complex on the car at all.”

…except for the carburetor, which will be totally foreign to younger mechanics.

The carburetor is a derivative of the very common and simple Weber 32/36. It was made by Holley under license from Weber. But you are right, younger mechanics will be confused even by this very simple carburetor. And setting points? forgeddaboutit.

“And setting points? forgeddaboutit.”

The woman needs to find a mechanic who is–at the very least–in his 50s, but in this case, probably the older the mechanic the better.

Your neighbor needs to join a classic car club in LA. Also join a Pinto owners club on line, go to their forums and ask there. They need somebody who knows carbs and points.

Here’s a forum:

You wonder what these mechanics do when they have a lawn mower problem? My dad had one of those in the wagon version and it was very easy to work on. Hardly anything there. Looked like an updated Model T engine compartment. You might want to look for the local car club or hot rod club and get a referral of the garages they use. Gotta be around but they might be behind someones house and not in the yellow pages.

Yes, the carburetor and points ignition will stymie most of today’s shops and mechanics… 1972 is the second year of production . Two engines were available, the 1.6L pushrod English Ford (Cortina) and the 2.0L SOHC German engines…75 & 100 horsepower respectively…

A “tune-up” is a simple matter, plugs, points, condenser, set the dwell and timing and adjust the carburetor for best idle…Back in the day, that could be done for less than $50…Today, you will need to find an older mechanic who works on “Classic” cars…How many miles on this car by the way?

I cannot not believe that you cannot find anyone to work on the Pinto…These were the easiest cars to work on compared to today’s standards…I still have my dwell meter, timing light. feeler gauges for the points etc. When I was young ( now retired ) I knew these older cars and just by listening to the engine had a good idea what was wrong. Timing belts were a snap to replace especially if rear wheel drive as I did one on my old Chevy Vega when in high school ( that car was another horror story for my 1st car ) in 20 minutes… Too bad you don’t live by me in Florida as I could fix her up, and have it purring like a kitten for almost nothing. Even changing a head gasket could be done in about 1- 2 hours if you knew what you were doing as long as the head and block checked out ok.

Working on the old stove bolt chevy straight sixes was a breeze. The 216, 235 and the later 250’s.

They are probably all afraid that if they work on it they might get rear ended on the road test…

Sorry. Har-de-har-har.

@Howie32703 “I still have my dwell meter, timing light. feeler gauges for the points etc.”

Sure, you do, but for a young guy starting out how high on the list of tools would a distributor wrench or dwell meter be? And how on earth would you know what to do with them. Auto service is a whole different game now than it was 20 years ago, for a small indy shop.

A few years ago I hired a guy from a local dealership. He finished high school, did a 2 year program at a voc/tech, and spent 5 years at the dealer. Decent technician. First day here, first job was replace starter on a 77 F150. 10 minute job, right? He asks if he can borrow some tools.

“Huh?” For that?

“I don’t have any standard wrenches and my metrics are rounding off the bolts.”

Makes sense, why would anyone getting into this business buy a 1/2" wrench?

I still have a dwell meter. Might get used once a month, if that.


When I was working at the Benz dealer, I only needed metric tools.

Nevertheless, I started buying standard sockets, wrenches, etc. I usually bought stuff on ebay for pennies on the dollar.

The reason?

I knew I didn’t want to be there forever, and I knew I would need those standard tools someday

When I left that dealer to become a civil service mechanic working primarily on Ford, GM and large commercial vehicles, I (for the most part) had the tools I needed

As for my timing light and dwell meter? I might use the timing light once a year

Just my 2 cents, but a mechanic who has never replaced a set of points or adjusted a carburetor in his life should be able to skim a book and figure it out in minutes if he has any mechanical aptitude at all.

This makes it a case of the mechanic can’t figure out the obvious or simply doesn’t want to be bothered with it.

Oh, I suppose I agree with that, but that assumes that the mechanic has access to a book, service manual, etc. Needing to find space for the ever-increasing number of tools and equipment I need, I took all the old Mitchell manuals for before 1990 and put them in the storage container out back. I know where they are, but I think the other guys would rather not deal with it. I can’t blame them, why bother with that when there’s a gravy timing belt to do instead?

And then, he still has to go to my toolbox and find a distributor wrench and carb tools.

Can you even buy a “double-d” attachment to adjust a Quadrajet anymore?

I agree that there’s no justification to start stocking up on distributor and carburetor tools because of the few mutants still running around but any info needed about contact points and carb adjustments can be found in minutes on the net.
A common screwdriver and feeler gauge will take care of point installation and the same screwdriver may be used to adjust the carburetor.

The principles are the same no matter the make of car so an old time “tune-up” (a misnomer today) or timing belt; it’s all money in the bank.

Judging by the number of botched timing belt jobs, maybe some of those mechanics need to stick to contact points… :slight_smile:

“and the same screwdriver may be used to adjust the carburetor.” Unless it’s a GM feedback carb. Then you need a host of specialty tools…

Funny, I have a 27 year old guy who wants to learn, no matter what it is. Good guy to have around. We had an old Olds come in, I diag’ed it as carb trouble. I told him to pull it off, we disassembled it together, I soaked it in the tank and cleaned it. Then I told him to go ahead and build it and get me when he needed help. I’ll be damned if he didn’t get the thing 99% together before asking for help…USING ALL THE OLD GASKETS, SEALS AND FLOAT.

I’ve still got mine taking up shelf space. I think I paid $20 at Target for a set. Dwell meter, compression tester, vacuum gauge, and timing light. I blew the timing light out though and I think I lost the instructions for the dwell meter, but I’m not about to throw it away.

@asemaster, I don’t know what to say about someone using old gaskets, etc on the Olds carburetor. That’s akin to reusing all of the original gaskets during an engine rebuild…

I’ve got several dwell meters but they’re collecting dust for the most part. Dwell meters are also used on CIS injected European cars, EEC controlled carbureted Subarus, etc to check duty cycles.