What’s better than a really cool, really powerful racecar? A really cool, really powerful racecar with an equally cool story.
Twenty years ago, Nevada native Scott Bieschke sold off a 1978 Pinto Cruising Wagon that he had built and campaigned in the Pacific Street Car Association’s Outlaw 10.5 category. He went on to compete in other categories with the PSCA and even became the series’ tech advisor in the years since, but he never quite got over parting ways with that Pinto, and years later, he began scouring for it.
“We ended up selling it and raced in Pro Street and Outlaw 8.5 for quite a few years with some other cars, but I would often say that if I ever found this car, I would buy it back,” Bieschke says.
“Three or four months ago I saw it on Facebook in a for-sale ad — I called the guy up and told him I wanted the car, I just had to figure out shipping. He asked, ‘where are you shipping it to?’ And I said ‘Las Vegas.’ He responded with, ‘that’s funny, because that’s where it came from.’ ”
Bieschke struck a deal and had the car — in a condition he called a “very rough roller”, albeit with fresh paint — transported from Arkansas and spent the autumn and fall months preparing it for a return to the racetrack. Everything from the engine and transmission, wiring, suspension, and so on were revamped or replaced to bring it up to modern-day standards. Bieschke’s goal was to re-debut the car at the Street Car Super Nationals (SCSN) — one he worked tirelessly to achieve.
The finished product is a zany, over-the-top, one-of-a-kind ride, featuring a 438 cubic-inch small-block Ford with a COMP solid roller camshaft, 11:1 compression, Air Flow Research 225cc Outlaw heads, and a pair of 80mm turbochargers, on methanol. Precision s550 injectors and a Holley Dominator EFI system and coil-on-plug setup provide the fuel and spark.
A Mike’s 1.80 first-gear Powerglide transmission is mated with a Neal Chance bolt-together converter deliver the power to a 9-inch housing with 4.56 gears. Chris Alston’s Chassisworks ladder bars and Strange Engineering shocks assist in. planting the Mickey Thompson slicks.
Bieschke competed in the big-tire, no-time class at SCSN where, on the waste-gate spring and with just 3-pounds of boost, he ran a best in the high-5’s to the 1/8-mile. Once ironed out, though, the intent is to be well into the 4-second range where he can be competitive with others in the West coast big-tire scene.
So why a Pinto, of all things, for a performance-based style of racing? Bieschke has driven other, more suitable (for racing) makes and models of vehicles — Mustangs and Thunderbirds, namely — but nevertheless finds joy in his outside-the-box machine.
“It’s just different…like the driver. The car just draws attention, and so many people come and look at it,” Bieschke says, adding that, “it’s been a while since I’ve driven it, but I remember it going pretty straight for the wheelbase that it is.”
The wheelbase, it’s worth noting, is factory, at 96-inches, and Bieschke admits the weight balance is a slanted to the rear, in part due to the extra steel of the wagon (the car is entirely steel, save for the fiberglass nose).