No Pintos Here: Low-Mile 1980 Mercury Bobcat

I’m not really a big fan of Ford Pintos. They are very utilitarian, and the purpose they serve is very clear: transportation. However, despite my dislike for Pintos upon featuring a very similar Bobcat earlier this year I discovered I found them rather appealing. Perhaps it is the different grille, or the addition of more chrome accents, but for some reason I grew to like Bobcats, even though I still don’t like their Ford equivalent. You don’t have to tell me it doesn’t make sense! This clean low-mileage Bobcat is listed here on Craigslist in Portland with an asking price of $3,000 and the mileage not listed. Credit goes to reader Pat L. for this one! 

Under the hood sits a 2.3 liter inline 4-cylinder engine. Though the ad lists very few details, one can assume that as nice as it looks and at $3,000 this car runs. The addition of a newer looking battery and cables, hoses, and radiator suggest to me that this car has either recently seen a serious tune-up or is so low-mileage and well cared for that everything looks new. In any event, the engine and engine bay are very clean and rust is minimal at worst.

Though wacky interiors are my favorite, I’m not sure I’m sold on this one. The Bobcats appear classier to me than Pintos do, and the pattern on these seats is reminding me that this is just a rebadged Pinto. The last Bobcat we featured was actually the same color as this one, also located in the Pacific Northwest, also sent in by Pat L. and was listed at a very similar $2,800. If I recall, that car had a nice vinyl interior which I think I prefer. That said, the crazy striped interior of this Bobcat is well suited to the era and growing on me the longer I look at it!

With nice examples like this somewhat easily found at prices below $4,000, Bobcats could be a great vehicle to get younger folks into the hobby. Those same kids being ripped on for having a 4-door Hornet or a ratty Fiat 124 at cruise-ins  are the same kids desperately trying to be a part of the hobby so many claim is dying. The truth of it is, because the classic car market is where it is today, the new generation of car guys has to “settle” for nice affordable classics like this Bobcat. I would totally drive it. Would you?

Fast Finds


  1. Moparman Member

    I always thought that the plastic tail light lensess looked very cheap, and could have been done better, as the Bobcat was “more upscale”! This one even has the rare swing out rear windows! :-)

    • 68 custom

      and the one piece glass rear window/hatch! plus a moonroof (sounds more luxurious than sunroof !) wonder how hard it would be to swap a SVO mustangs 2.3 turbo motor and 5 speed ? maybe bolt in?

  2. Gearheaddropping

    I haven’t seen one of these in 25 years. These were such bad years for American cars. I have to believe only a small handful have survived.

  3. Rock On Member

    Last time I have seen one of these in person was 1985. A coworker drove a puke gold/brown one with matching all vinyl interior.

  4. Rabbit

    I’ve had two Pintos, (77 & 80) & loved ’em both. Living paycheck to paycheck in my youth, they were cheap to buy & maintain, & with a stick, almost fun to drive.

  5. Dave Member

    Although nerdy/kooky-cool, as close as I got to one of these was a 1980 Ford Fiesta S with a 4-speed. A kick in the pants to drive and super easy to maintain.

  6. Gunner

    I dig it. I am not a color RED guy, but it is growing on me. Nice call out on those windows Moparman. Let’s go to the show!

  7. rustylink

    by 1980 they had worked through a lot of quality issues on the Pinto and this really wasn’t the same car as the early 70’s models. The 2.3 is actually a decent motor and powered the T Bird, SVO Stang in Turbo form etc throughout the Ford line up. The only down side is the FoMoCo slusher – but it’s not a bad deal for $3K

  8. glen

    A nice ,brief, un-informative ad. Awesome.

  9. Larry Collins

    It seems very obvious to me that this car is MESSED UP. The paint (exterior, that is) is too good and too many things don’t line up. Take another look. This car is a WRECK.

  10. Skip

    I’ve always loved the Pintos and this Bobcat would be no exception. One of my college roommates, now deceased, had a ’73 Pinto that I loved to drive when he’d let me. It was a dark blue and drove very smoothly. Aside from trips between Lubbock and Midland and back the only other trip we went on in that car was to Amarillo. The only problem was that Jack had the proverbial lead-foot and kept his foot into it all the time; and that really shortened the life of that little car. He had been driving a late ’60s Cougar so I felt that this was a step up for him. My dad and stepmom had a ’75 Pinto wagon that I liked the looks of but I never saw it running nor did I ever get to ride in it. They bought it to pull behind their motorhome and later ended up letting my stepmom’s grandson have the car. Oh well! Still nice little cars. My other Ford favorite was the downsized Mustangs, especially the ones that were built as police cars. Never got to drive or ride in one, but I liked them just the same.

  11. Fritz T.

    Nope. I’ll take a Valiant/Dart/Duster, Nova over these or Vegas any day

  12. Skip

    Fritz: I have to agree with you on that. While I always liked driving my friend’s then-new ’73 Pinto, my “baby” was a nice little 2-door ’63 slant-six Valiant. It replaced my ’55 Plymouth Belvedere. My dad got the Valiant for $800 + my old Plymouth. It had 28K on it when I get it for Christmas in 1965. In 1972 with 106K on it the engine went and my dad found a replacement for about $300. I finally let a friend of mine have it sometime in ’73 when he needed a school car. I had just bought a ’67 Chevy BelAir wagon with low mileage. But to this day I still miss that Valiant. Out here in the middle of the West Texas oil fields I recently spotted what appears to be a ’64 or ’65 two-door Valiant sitting on an oilfield production co. lot, and it’s been sitting for several months. I suspect that the owner has been away on a drilling location somewhere. One of these days I’ve gotta get off my backside and stop and get a closer look!

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