Baby Merc: 1980 Mercury Bobcat

There was a time when Ford Pintos could be found just about anywhere, anytime you wanted one. This time was before I was born, because they have been a novelty throughout my life! As the Pintos seemed to slowly fade off of the roads, their Mercury cousin did the same in tenfold. Reader Pat L. sent us this 1980 Mercury Bobcat that appears to be in immaculate condition listed for $2,800 in Washington state here on craigslist.

The Bobcat is often forgotten, because many lump it in with the Pinto, justifiably so. However, if you have ever wanted to own a Pinto without having to deal with Pinto jokes, now is your chance to do so! The seller notes that this car is “not from the years on the exploding gas tank,” which is truthfully a selling point! The seller has also replaced various mechanical parts on the car since she has owned it, and notes that the gas gauge is the only partially non-functional part on the car.

One thing that really struck me about this Bobcat was that although the interior is spotless (and red to match!), the gauge cluster appears extremely clean and unweathered, minus some typical wear. Maybe its just a good picture, but if nothing else this is certainly indicative of the care this car received. The odometer shows 62,229, however the seller states that the owner before the person she purchased it from said he saw the odometer roll over. For having 162,000 miles, this Bobcat is unbelievably clean!

Since the Bobcat was the direct result of badge engineering, the only obvious difference from the Pinto is the addition of a lot more chrome, as well as a slightly different grille, among other small changes. To me, these small changes make the car desirable. I have never had any interest in owning a Pinto of any vintage, however this Bobcat just screams driver to me! I would absolutely daily this car, because it just catches my eye! There’s something to be said about driving something vintage that you don’t have to worry about rain or door dings in. I think the asking price is very fair given the condition and scarcity of these cars, even if it is a Pinto underneath. Would you take this cat out for a spin? Or would you avoid the Pinto platform altogether?

Fast Finds


  1. King Al

    Looks clean, but too much money for 168K miles. Maybe $900.

    • Ralph Robichaud

      Ifyou’re not in the market and you’re not buying, why throw out a price.. and on what premises do you arrive at $900?
      Too many people on here relish chewing away at the asking price(s).. as if they were an authority on value.
      Hot air , at best.

      • King Al

        Hot air?? Well, just to check myself, I used Kelly Blue Book. Since it only goes back to ’92, I selected a ’92 Merc Tracer w/162K mi in excel cond, private seller. KBB estimate was $1,116. Figure a vehicle 12 years older to be worth $200 less. Right at $900 for a 37 year old poverty ride. Not hot air. Just reality.

  2. Superdessucke

    A good buddy in high school had a powder blue ’79 Pinto with an automatic. I can no longer recall whether it was a hatchback or sedan. What I do remember is that it was about as boring as watching paint dry back then. It would be exciting and interesting to drive in today’s traffic now. At least for a while. It’s amazing how perspectives change

  3. Rabbit

    With a stick, they were actually quite nimble & fun to drive cars for their time. Beat hell out of a Vega. Bought my 80 Pinto Pony with a partly plugged converter (hollowed it out) and a shot muffler (added a glass pack). Did wonders for the oomph. Drove the snot out of that little thing until my fortunes changed for the better. Been through a lot of cars in my years, & that was the only Ford I ever owned that I truly liked.

  4. mark

    Pinto and Bobcat. Same car, spelling is different……………..

  5. Lipe Tim

    The ad has been deleted by its post. I wonder why.

    • King Al

      If you could snag this for $600, you’d have some coin left to give this tired cat a big pick me up. 32s. Here comes da donk.

      • Toxotes

        Way too much time on your hands.

        Like 1
  6. Moosefeather

    About 1980 my dad bought a 1 ton Chev dually, I believe it had a 454 in it, for work. It was brand new, didn’t even have a deck on it yet. There was a guy in town a couple years older than me that dropped some big motor with a blower in a pinto. It was considered one of the fastest cars in town. We pulled up beside him one night at a set of lights. We pulled away everything seemed normal, but when my dad shifted into 2nd they both gunned it. On so many levels I was dumb struck. I was oblivious to any sign they were going to race. We blew that pinto away. If you’d told me some work truck could be that fast I wouldn’t have believed you. But mostly, my dad was racing!! I remember he turned to me and matter of factly said, “I knew once I got out of low he wouldn’t have a chance.” It was like I lost my virginity. What the heck was happening. A couple days later at school some kid I didn’t know said to me, “Your dad’s got a pretty fast truck.” I was just some shy kid, all of a sudden in my adolescent brain I was some celebrity. I scoffed at pinto’s after that. Later my parents helped my sister buy vehicle as long as I was allowed to use it occassionally. I just got my license and no wheels of my own. You guessed it, she bought a pinto. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    • Fred W.

      Enjoyed the story Moosefeather, thanks for posting that. I was also a shy kid who somehow ended up racing my 62 Corvair against a souped up Beetle going up a blind hill and (after winning) lived to tell about it. My best buddy had a brown ’74 Pinto he bought brand new, that was living large.

  7. jwinters

    I think the mileage is pinto lasted 160k miles,

    • Fred W.

      They sometimes did with 3000 mile oil and filter changes and appropriate timing belt changes. This one looks well cared for.

    • Ralph Robichaud

      Read Brian’s post!

  8. Brian

    Had a pinto I put 249,000 miles on and it was still running fine when I sold it.

    • jwinters

      You sure it wasn’t 24,900?

  9. Ralph Robichaud

    jw – Cheeky humor, that would be over the top… $900 however is the price of a “quality” wheel barrow according to kbbb.,

  10. Mitch Ross Member

    how would KBB even calculate the value of a car that does not have enough sales for a sample pool of cars ? KBBB and others are useless, except that they put arbitrary prices , like any 30 year old compact car is worth $900 and people think that makes it worth $900

    • King Al

      Upon further reflection, if KBB claimed it was worth $900, now I’m thinking $600 is a better price point.

      • Ralph Robichaud

        If you can find late 70s ,early 80s cars of any size in this overall good condion, quality, appearance, roadworthy ,,and clean,at $600—————————————–buy ’em all, fill a warehouse,,and let Barn finds readers know,they’ll go quick at a modest $100-150 profit for you. Just saying.

  11. Bradley Clark

    I’ve had a ’72 wagon from the left coast, and a ’79 wagon that I bought for $400 with 70ish K miles. Both were daily drivers, and extremely reliable, regardless of weather. I put 15 sheets of 5/8″ tongue & groove treated plywood on the roof rack of the ’71, and it went down the road with no complaints.

  12. Paul

    No offense to anybody whom likes these cars (I don’t know why anybody would) however I think every last one should be crushed. Not fun to drive, not safe to drive, not dependable to drive, don’t even bring a lot of money for scrap metal. I would be embarrassed to keep one covered in the garage………on second thought I would keep it covered to avoid the embarrassment.

    • Ralph Robichaud

      At the of offending the fairer sex, I’m sure there are a few readers on here, I will say this without malice-
      Paul- it’s a bit like women- a plain ordinary gal may not warrant your second look, but to “someone” that gal is a “goddess”.

  13. King Al

    Heh heh heh…..

  14. King Al

    Forgot until now, but 38 years ago, I worked with a guy who had a mid-70’s Pinto as a daily driver. One winter day, on his way to work, he spotted a dog running across an open field ahead perpendicular to the road. The Pinto driver applied the brakes to try to avoid hitting the dog. He slid straight ahead, but the dog hit the driver side door, bounced back, turned around and took off running back into the field. When the guy got to work, he got out and looked at the door, to find it was seriously dented in. In the next few years, he had a lot more problems with that Pinto before he had had enough and dumped it.

  15. Paul

    Thanks for keeping me in check Ralph….you are correct!
    When I was in school I carpooled with a guy that had a Pinto……his car was always broke down. So I drove almost all the time. His Pinto had under 50,000 miles on it when he had to junk it for mechanical cost being more than the value of car. It left me on the anti Pinto team.

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