Junkyard Find: 1977 Mercury Bobcat 3-Door

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1977 mercury bobcat 3 door

You’d think that examples of the Ford Pinto and its Mercury-badged twin, the Bobcat, would have disappeared from the American junkyard ecosystem by now, given the cheapness of these cars and the decades of exploding-Pinto punchlines since “Pinto Madness” came out in 1977. No doubt due to the huge quantities sold during the Pinto/Bobcat’s 10-year production run (well over three million), such is not the case; I continue to find Pintos and Bobcats in junkyards to this day.

Here’s a light blue ’77 three-door Bobcat in a Northern California self-serve yard.

The Bobcat didn’t differ much from the Pinto at any point during its 1975-1980 production run. When you bought the Bobcat, you got some standard features that were optional on the Pinto, plus the bragging rights that came with ownership of the more upscale marque. In 1977, the Bobcat three-door started at $3,338, while the cheapest Pinto went for $3,099 (that’s about $14,630 and $13,580 in 2020 dollars, respectively).

The Bobcat came with cloth-and-vinyl bucket seats as standard equipment, though you still had to pay extra for a scratchy AM radio.

This one lived a hard life, at least in its later years. This spray-foam-and-tape trim repair speaks volumes.

California cars will rust, given enough time.

This one was on the street as recently as 2008, on the [s]bayous[/s] mean streets of El Cerrito (home of Creedence Clearwater Revival).

A four-speed manual came as the base transmission in the ’77 Bobcat, but most Mercury shoppers insisted on automatics by that time.

These stickers look faded enough to have been installed by the original owner.

In 1977, Bobcat shoppers had the option of buying the same 2.8-liter V6 that went into the Capri, resulting in 90 horsepower at the driver’s command. This car got the base 2.3-liter four-cylinder, rated at 89 horses (but 20 fewer pound-feet of torque).

Bobcat and Pinto sales dropped quite a bit after 1977, partly due to the perceived risk of explosion during rear-end collisions and partly due to the increasing obsolescence of the late-1960s design.

Pintos really weren’t much more likely to explode than other cars with the fuel tank mounted between the rear bumper and rear axle. Unfortunately, most Detroit cars of the era used that layout, and so the danger went well beyond just the Pinto.

Watch out for intruding elephant trunks in your Bobcat!

Bobcat marketing focused on cheapness. Note the amazing Sports Accent Group Bobcat in this final-model-year TV commercial.

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  • Mike-NB2 Mike-NB2 on Jun 02, 2020

    At 23 seconds into the first ad that's Sgt. Lucy Bates (aka Betty Thomas) dealing with the elephant trunk. I'm sure that got her prepared for the likes of Renko and LaRue on The Hill. I may be a bit of a masochist, but I liked these cars, particularly the three-door wagons. But then again, I was only 11 when this particular car was built so I didn't need to worry about the repairs.

  • TommyT913 TommyT913 on Jun 02, 2020

    What yard is this in? I need the door panels.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.