Hooniverse Wagon Wednesday – An Original 1977 Mercury Bobcat Wagon

Welcome to another Wagon Wednesday here on Hooniverse.com. The Mercury Bobcat was a quick answer to the calls from Lincoln Mercury dealers clamoring for a sub-compact car in the days of the first and second OPEC oil embargo. It was introduced during the 1975 model year and is a virtual twin to the Ford Pinto, except for some extra jewelry. The Bobcat was only offered as a three-door hatchback as well as a three-door wagon, and was discontinued five years later. Why do I bring up this little history lesson on what is really a Pinto in Drag? For Wagon Wednesday of course, and look what I found….

Here is a two owner 1977 Mercury Bobcat Wagon offered by a Manchester, New Hampshire Dealer that was originally sold by a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in Manchester, Connecticut. This is a highly optioned wagon that was special ordered by its original owner, and included a 2.8L V-6, Automatic, Air Conditioning, AM FM Radio, Power Steering, Power Front Disc Brakes, Interior Decor Group, Instrument Package, Convenience Package, Dual Remote Mirrors, Styled Steel Wheels, and a lot more.

This is one of only 154 Bobcat Wagons built that year in this trim, color and engine combination, and is an actual time capsule vehicle. Unfortunately, as with any time capsule, you can see how they were made. Take a look at the trim panel placement for the radio and A/C controls. The phrase “They don’t make ’em like they used to” can only be answered like this: “And thank God they don’t!”

That doesn’t mean I don’t like it. It has more character than any Toyota Corolla ever would, and performance pieces for what is essentially the same V6 that came in a Capri are relatively easy to acquire. And the asking price for this original Bobcat Wagon? Try $5,500! See the Hemmings listing here.

Does this little Bobcat make you want to Purrrrrrrrrr, or make you Growl at its hideousness? Let me know!

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    As I've said before, the only Pinto variation I have even a remote interest in is the Cruising Wagon, and this ain't it. The cute and pretentious little stand-up grille on the Bobcat reminds me of this, and it just as effectively conveys a sense of desperate luxocheez.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b9/Vanden_Plas_1500_1977.jpg/800px-Vanden_Plas_1500_1977.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. RichardKopf Avatar

      I'll raise you one and say that the grille/front end reminds me of an earlier Volare/Aspen/Regal. My bologna has a first name, it's M-A-L-A-I-S-E

    2. alcology Avatar

      What is that? It looks good to me, besides the grill bit. Flare it and flog it.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        It's a 1970s Vanden Plas 1500, based on the Austin Allegro dumpling-mobile. Looks good? Uhhhh….

        1. alcology Avatar

          I'm an AMC nut with the freak-flag flying. I looked up more info on it, and what I pictured would make it better looking, brings it home to the Austin Allegro. I like the looks of the allegro quite a bit.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi
          2. alcology Avatar

            Put a bow on it and drop it them both off in my driveway

  2. citroen67 Avatar

    It scores some major "seventies survivor" points, but $5500 is about $2000 too much.

  3. topdeadcentre Avatar

    The radio trim panel didn't come like that from the factory. That was lovingly and delicately cut out to hold a Sparkomatic tape deck with three-slider "equalizer" and the auto-cassette-eating-reversing-unspooling function.

  4. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Someone should probably just shoot me right here and now, because I like it, and would love to drive it around town.
    It looks like someone did something to the cutout around the radio. It'd be too hard to get a similar picture from the same model year, but that just can't be factory, can it?

    1. topdeadcentre Avatar

      The radio trim panel was cut to fit a tape deck with a large front panel; I believe there were two trim panels in the Bobcat/Pinto that had slightly different cutouts, for radio only or the factory tape deck. My first two cars were rustbucket Pintos that required cutting this panel to install "wicked awesome" car stereos.
      If you were poor, you got the gear from Radio Shack. If you were working double shifts at Burger King, you might mail-order something a little better from Crutchfield. Since the factory speaker cutouts in these cars were small and shallow, enclosed speaker boxes screwed to the interior body panels were the way to go.

      1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

        I was half thinking that same thing too, perhaps it was replaced with a different radio at one point, opening enlarged with a not-so-sharp hobby knife, and now for resale, the old radio was put back in place.
        I have never *yet* driven a Pinto, but hope to change that at some point. Not that it's a dream or anything, well, shhhh, maybe in some way it is.

        1. CptSevere Avatar

          I learned to drive in a '74 Pinto wagon. You're not missing a whole lot.

          1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

            Just for the experience….. just for the experience.

  5. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    Oh, and it's always fun to tease the younger generations, and ask if they know how to program the presets on a radio like that!

    1. Alff Avatar

      I wish they still were programmed that way.

      1. ptschett Avatar

        +1. When my folks got their new CTS I was going to be helpful and set up some radio presets, and I figured I didn't need the manual. 10 minutes later I gave up.

        1. Alff Avatar

          There's no arguing that factory head units are generally better than ever but suffer for the lack of a standard interface.

  6. west_coaster Avatar

    These are always mocked by those who weren't around back then as being horrible cars, and they like to offer brilliant hindsight. ("Why didn't everyone just buy a BMW 2002 or pick up a used Ferarri Daytona instead of something lame like this???")
    The truth is, there were lines to buy gas, dire predictions of the world running out of oil by the year 2000, and people were looking for viable ways to get around while using less gasoline. Cars like this sold well because they were what was available. In many parts of the U.S., buying a "foreign" car was sacrilegeous, so big gas guzzlers were traded in for Pintos, Vegas and Gremlins.
    To see one now preserved and mostly original is to see a part of our automotive history, for better or for worse.

  7. SSurfer321 Avatar

    The faux wood trim on the rear spoiler alone almost makes this worth the asking price.

  8. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Nice exemplar, but so sure about the Corolla statement however.
    <img src="http://speedhawaii.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Outside-6.jpg&quot; width="550">

    1. Jim-Bob Avatar

      Yeah, I'd rock a classic Corolla (That's a 1970 or so isn't it?) before I'd rock a Pinto or Bobcat. Japanese small cars of the 1970's are just so much cooler than their inferior American counterparts.

  9. west_coaster Avatar

    Just looked that the interior pictures again and noticed the knob for the "remote" right side mirror. Yes, there's actually a cable that runs from where the driver sits all the way over to the mirror on the passenger door.
    That was exotic and high-tech for the day!

    1. topdeadcentre Avatar

      And after about three years of age, nine out of ten of these cable mirror adjusters would snap and be useless and nobody ever bothered to replace them.

  10. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I can't care what the haters say.
    I have to admit, in all honesty, that this actually gives me Tingly Sensations™…

    1. facelvega Avatar

      I agree, the malaise connotation makes people hate these by reflex, but somehow the pendulum seems to have come full swing on the styling for these, as they are looking more evocative now than they ever did before. The small malaise Fords–Maverick, Pinto, and Mustang II with their Mercury counterparts–all look good to me these days when I see one on the street, in a way that full-size 70s cars don't really look good.

      1. tonyola Avatar

        This revision of history on the part of you guys would make a Stalinist Soviet historian proud. Let us not forget – these were lousy cars new and they're lousy cars now. It's not the malaise connotation that makes me hate small Fords from the '70s – it's the fact that I've driven them in their day and have known lots of people who have owned them. You can't fool me. I was there.

        1. Alff Avatar

          Look at you, trying to revise the present.

        2. facelvega Avatar

          I never said they were well engineered or fun to drive–I also never said anything about the history–I just think the styling has aged well, particularly on the wagons. Somehow the way cars look has shifted enough to make the lines look good again. Back in the 90s, full-size wagons from the sixties and even seventies looked much better to me, but now I'm finding an appeal in the look of these. I wouldn't say I want to own one.

        3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
          Peter Tanshanomi

          I drove a Pinto wagon a lot, and you're right, they were functionally pretty lousy, but there are plenty of fun bits out there to improve them.
          Besides, since when has being a lousy vehicle ever kept a particular carworm from eating my psyche?

        4. From_a_Buick_6 Avatar

          I was born in the Midwest in the '80s, so heaps like this had completely disappeared from the roads by the time I was five. In over 20 years meticulously inspecting every car within view, I only recall seeing a handful of Pintos and Mustang IIs. And the only Vega I've ever seen had a SBC shoehorned into it.
          And I think that's where the disconnect lies. Your generation experienced these crapboxes first hand, whereas gearheads under 30 didn't. I've always heard the stories about how epically awful these cars were, so there's never been any question in my mind that they sucked. There's a kitsch factor about them, since it's a miracle that any of them survived, but no way would I want to own one.
          Same thing goes for a lot of the other sacred cows around here. The early Fox bodies were terrible, gutless, shoddily-built cars. Beyond the poor man's Audi styling, there was nothing redeeming about the Fairmont and the Mustang was completely disposable until the H.O. 302 came out for '82. More recently, there's the humungous B-body GM wagons of the '90s that everyone but me seems to love. The beached-whale styling helped kill these cars, and they were generally a step backwards towards the barges of the '70s.
          And if I heard anybody speaking kindly of the Cavaliers, Grand Ams and Neons that littered my high school parking lot 30 years from now, I'd be beside myself. You'd couldn't have been there and actually thought those cars had redeeming qualities. And I imagine that's where you stand…bad cars should stay dead and buried.

          1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

            but see, these bad cars have an endearing quality to them. Whats the opposite? A Camry?
            I'm not saying that I don't understand what you are saying, but there is something special about a bad car that people would like to own and take care of, and get frustrated with, etc. Just my defense for enjoying something so horrible and 'wrong.'
            Make any sense?

          2. Alff Avatar

            "there is something special about a bad car that people would like to own and take care of, and get frustrated with, etc."
            Preach it, Brother!
            <img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_fVEg3I8ek1A/S4wERvLctdI/AAAAAAAAADE/qmRpR6wGyyI/s640/2010-03-01%2008.32.46.jpg"width=500&gt;

          3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Alfas are never bad cars, just "temperamental" and "idiosyncratic" …at times "persnickety," perhaps.

          4. Taranau Avatar

            The market was different, back then. There were cars made, so you could be seen working on them, on your driveway, every Saturday morning. Instead of being seen mowing your lawn, kind of thing.

        5. Taranau Avatar

          I was also there, and most other small economy cars, on the road back then, were no better— and many times, were even worse. Toyota, and then Datsun were pumping out crap that didn't even meet the smog and safety standards, Pintos and Bobcats were required to by law until the 1982 model year. Claiming only American cars were crap, back then, is just as revisionist as claiming they were flawless and perfect.

  11. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    Um… does this count as a Shooting-brake?

    1. Bret Avatar

      Yes, absolutely. Although it's technically a "Shootin' brake".

  12. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Do like… I was never as fond of the Bobcat as I was the Pinto, but this one kinda grabs me by the boo-boo.

  13. Lilly Avatar

    This Bobcat wagon is a example of most accelerating cars and liked by the people of that time becuase in that time competition was less as compared to todays world of new technologies.I have other models of that wagons in our website.

  14. Black Steelies Avatar

    Even with a radio that looks like it was installed with a sawzall, this thing is a charmer. It's probably a combo of shooting brake form, woodgrain, and malaise styling that is actually reasonably, er.. stylish.
    It's like a Ford LTD2 Squire that shrunk in the wash, in a good way. The ugly stains came out and now it's fun-sized!

  15. TurboBrick Avatar

    I love the wood-grained spoiler above the hatch.

  16. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    Did the wailing and gnashing of teeth from dealers pleading for coverage of every single segment ever result in a worthwhile car?
    It seems many of you think "Yes absolutely, this one right here." but those statements are preceded by such as "Someone should probably just shoot me right here and now".
    This is one of several questions that would hypothetically be very well answered by Ate Up With Motor. (when the author figuratively gets back from Australia)

    1. ptschett Avatar

      I want to say that it hasn't, but… what if Lincoln-Mercury had never wanted their own version of the Mustang?
      <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/mercury-cougar-1a-320×284.jpg"/&gt;
      Or Dodge, a Barracuda?
      <img src="http://hooniverse.info/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/71pace2.jpg&quot; width="500"/>

  17. MadHungarian Avatar

    Yes, it’s a cloned Pinto. However, it’s a two door wagon. Is it possibly the LAST two door wagon? I know there was a 2 door Corolla wagon for a while, when was that discontinued? Being a two door wagon makes up for all its Pintoness and then some.

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I don't know – what does the Geo Storm 'wagon' count as?
      <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3650/3411850714_86c93d60fa_z.jpg"&gt;

    2. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      That's a great question. The Pinto run went longer then the Vega, and I can't think of another one that was any newer. (not counting FuzzyPlushroom's example)

  18. grinder74 Avatar

    VW Fox wagon '88 – '90?

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      <img src="http://www.rossvw.com/my_vws/90foxwagonsmall.jpg"&gt;

  19. grinder74 Avatar

    I had a '93 2 dr sedan new and it was a horrible car, but I always liked the whole modern squareback theme of these.

  20. Chas32456 Avatar

    we had a 1976 bobcat wagon (wht/blu) when i was a teen just starting to drive, it had a 260 v8. it was no hot rod but i got my first lucky (lay) and speeding ticket in that thing,
    i sure miss the good old days!!!