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14 Aug 2010 - Pangra- Jack Stratton

Jack Stratton, creator of the Pangra.

Special thanks to Steve Thomson (SRT) for getting this together...

Concept:

The Pinto came out in September 1970 and as was the custom in those days, it was branded a 1971 model.

We started experimenting with “performance” packages as early as January 1971 with things like the “Cobra Sprint” package and others for the Maverick and Torino.

Mid 1971, we started the Pangra concept. There were 3 prototypes.

The first one was an effort to copy the Datsun 240Z which was very popular at the time. No hidded headlights, but rather the scooped out configuration resembling that of the 240Z. The faberglass fabrication company based in San Gabriel did not follow the design we wanted, making the front end approximately 10 inches longer and the result was an even stubbier looking end product. Only three of these were made.

The second prototype was given to Gene Winfield in San Fernando Valley and this time we incorporated the hidden headlight idea. He managed to make excellent front end molds and all was going well until he hit a roadblock with the opening/closing headlight mechanism. That cost us about a 3 month delay.

We took the project away from Winfield and moved it to Temple City and that is where the final prototype, and the one that appears on the cover of the January 1973 Motor Trend, was completed.

So now we had the look, but no performance. That is when we heard about the Ak Miller turbochargers, and that fit the bill perfectly. We added the Koni’s, rear sway bar and the Continental tires and offset wheels. We then went to VDO to purchase the gauges that would display the boost pressure from the turbo. It was at that time we decided to put in a full instrument package including the digital tachometer.

The Recaro seat addition was a natural progression of changes we were constantly making in an effort to come up with a full and complete package.

There were two mid stream modifications of that third and last prototype.  One was making the headlight covers larger since the smaller ones, although asthetically nicer, were very difficult to mold without cracking. The final problem was the new extended bumper mechanism that came out in 1973.That cause major headaches and more delays.
We were running around to other dealerships trying to buy up all of the 1972 models we could, but were not too successful in that effort. There just wasn’t a very large supply out there at the time.

The total number of completed Pangras was 38 including one maroon station wagon that went to Santa Monica, California. That doesn’t count the Bonneville car or the yellow quarter mile car.

Demise:

There were several things that caused the “death” of the project, but the three major ones were enough to kill it all by themselves.

Number one, the gas shortage that generated long lines at the gas stations….a distant memory now, but that had people trading in their large gas guzzlers for smaller more fuel efficient models.The result to our project was that we simply couldn’t get enough Pintos from the factory as the small supply of them was now being distributed all over the county. Our monthly allocation from the factory dropped from over 100 per month to about 25. Bottom line, we had no inventory to from which to draw.

Number two, the rear stabilazer bar caught the interest of the California Highway Patrol, and the CHP was pulling over everyone they saw. Their reason was that there was only a 2” ground clearence and that was not sufficient,problem, but was just a nuisance dealing with those that had gotten a ticket and were bringing the cars back to the dealership to have that part removed.

Number three, this was the final blow to the project. The California Air Resources Board gave us a 5 page mandate barring us from selling anymore cars until we ran the tests included in that mandate. The tests were designed to demonstrate that the turbocharger met all of the air quality standards of the time.

One of the mandates was that we run 5 cars, each for 50,000 miles, and maintain an overwhelming number records of emission tests done at various points up to that 50,000 mile mark.

Additionally, now the CHP somehow had gotten wind of this ARB mandate and were pulling over those cars they could find and requiring that the turbo be removed before the car would be cleared as street legal.


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