The 1978 recall of Ford's popular compact Pinto model came after a public outcry and months of legal wrangling between Ford and the government. At issue was the lack of reinforcement between the Pinto's fuel tank and the bolts in its rear differential. Critics alleged that this design flaw made the gas tank susceptible to becoming pierced by the bolts and catching fire in a rear-end collision.
The problem became the subject of a controversial article in Mother Jones magazine titled "Pinto Madness." It accused Ford of knowing about the problem but deciding that, because paying judgments brought by burn victims was cheaper than doing a recall, it elected not to recall the car. The article touched off a media frenzy.