Pinto’s Cousin: 1977 Mercury Bobcat Villager

Ford joined the subcompact car movement in 1971 with the Pinto, which would go on to sell three million copies in 10 years. I’m betting that Mercury didn’t plan to enter that market until the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 changed the landscape. So, in 1975, enter the Bobcat, a rebadged Pinto with some slightly different sheet metal up front and nicer living quarters. They sold in far fewer numbers than the Pinto, but since higher fuel prices stuck through the balance of the decade, the Bobcat did as well, at least until 1979. This wagon version has had some restoration work done after being idle for 25 years. From Escanaba, Wisconsin, this sharp-looking runabout is available here on craigslist for $10,000. Hats off to Rocco B. for the tip!

Whereas the Pinto came in three body styles, the Bobcat settled for two, a 3-door hatchback and a station wagon with the same number of entry points. The Bobcat didn’t offer a lot more than you could get with a Pinto and the Mercury name probably added a few dollars. Likely, the Bobcat competed more with its corporate cousin than the competition, like the Chevy Vega and (later) Chevy Chevette.

As the Pinto evolved, so did the Bobcat. Like receiving a DuraSpark ignition in 1977 that offered a higher voltage. Both a 2.3-liter inline-4 and a 2.8-liter V6 were available in the Bobcat, with the seller’s car having the former with an automatic transmission (after all, this is a Villager, the fancier model wagon). Mercury would deliver 23,400 Bobcats in 1977, small by comparison to the 205,000 Pinto’s that Ford sold.

This Bobcat was put into storage in 1997 and supposedly stayed there until recently. At 22,000 miles (or 122,000?), its revival included new paint, headliner, carpeting, brakes, fuel lines, carburetor, and a refurbished gas tank. We wonder if when the paint was reapplied there previously was fake woodgrain paneling on the sides since this is a Villager (aka Country Squire). It looks like a nice little wagon where the asking price will enable the seller to recoup some of the restoration costs.


  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    I like the blue wood treatment, but 10K is just ridiculous for this. When is this crazy bubble going to break??

    Like 19
    • nycbjr Member

      I think this is a case of “honey I listed it, but no one will bite” listing… 10k is very “aspirational”!

      Like 15
    • Troy

      Its already starting to, it will take longer to pass down to the older cars but banks are already sitting on thousands of repossessed cars that people overpaid for during Covid

      Like 5
      • BlackTa

        Storage lots are full of RV’s and boats. Wait till those start going up for sale for bargain prices…

        Like 1
  2. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    This could be a fairly nice Bobcat, but one can’t really tell much from the four pics and the short description, though the seller does say they can supply more pics.

    Like 6
  3. Cadmanls Member

    Where are these pristine economy cars coming from? Now these were built cheap and meant to be used up and 10 K what is happening! This the grays testing us or the lizard people? I can’t take it!!

    Like 6
  4. Harvey Member

    This needs a tire mounted to the hatch to complete the continental kit look.

    Like 3
    • Joe


      Like 2
  5. Big C

    That is one funky paint job. If it’s a true 22k mile car? I’d give them $5000.

    Like 2
  6. Troy

    Is it just me or does it look like they brush painted over the wood grain sticker then shot it with clear coat

    Like 4
    • Steve RM

      I don’t know how it was. Nor do I want to. That blue “woodgrain” is just a terrible idea.

      Like 3
      • Ferenczy

        I like it – it’s different and goes with the blue interior. I always wondered how a bowling ball crinkle paint job would look.

        Like 1
  7. Tony Primo

    I bet that a lot of the commentators here have never owned a hobby car. There are still many expenses like an everyday vehicle. This wagon is 45 years old. A battery every 5 years equals 9 batteries. At least 45 oil changes. Brakes, tires, insurance and storage. If you don’t run them regularly they seize up. If this seller is asking 10 grand, good for him. It’s not like you can go down to your used car lot and find a bunch of Bobcats to compare it to. He will get what the market feels that it’s worth. Why should he give it away for any less?

    Like 5
    • Big C

      I’ve owned a few. Own two now. It’s still a $5000 car.

      Like 2
  8. jwaltb

    No exploding gas tanks with that rear bumper! The offending car would never get close enough.

  9. Joe Thompson

    Haha! Escanaba, WI! 298,000 Yoopers are yelling right now. Cool wagon tho.

  10. Christopher Gentry

    Wagons never exploded , unless you but enough bottle rockets in it

    Like 2
  11. Christopher Gentry

    Oh on the blue “wood” I think they true did paint it with a brush. Reminds me something I’ve seen on my wife’s home decorating shows , I think it’s called a pickled finish. I totally get that the fake wood was sure faded and or scraped up over the years. This was a inventive way to deal with that , but…. Having said that I don’t care for pickled furniture , like it even less on a car. Otherwise I like it. Can reproduction wood trim be had for these ??

    Like 3
  12. Steve Clinton

    My first reaction was “EWW!” but that color scheme has actually grown on me.

  13. Christopher Gentry

    Haha. I have seen worse.

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