North America Syndicate Inc.
Back in 1970 Ford and Chevrolet were head-to-head in competition for the lower-priced car market. For the 1971 model year, Chevrolet launched its subcompact Vega and Ford brought forth the Pinto.
Both cars were well-received at the outset. But within a year or two, labor disputes at Vega's assembly plant resulted in work stoppages and outright sabotage. Some of the Vegas built at that time turned out to be lemons. The labor troubles were eventually resolved, and the Vegas that followed were greatly improved. But Ford's Pinto pushed ahead in sales and maintained its lead.
The Vega was discontinued after 1977. Pinto also suffered a loss of popularity because of horror stories about fiery rear-end crashes in certain early Pinto coupes that had relatively unprotected gasoline tanks too close to the back end.
Pinto was continued into 1980, but for 1981 it was replaced by a totally new car, Ford's Escort. The Escort also had a running mate, the Mercury Lynx, which was not as popular and did not continue many years. The Escort, of course, is still being built, and in the 1990s it has been a joint effort of Ford and its Mazda affiliate in Japan.
The once-popular Pinto and Vega, so commonly seen through the 1970s, are now becoming desirable collector's items.