CC Outtake: Thrift Store Fords No. 2 – 1975-78 Mercury Bobcat Villager

Looking sheepishly small between this Chrysler Town & Country and Toyota Matrix is our next Thrift Store find… It’s a ’75-78 Mercury Bobcat Villager, but I’m not aware of any styling or trim cues that would tip off the exact model year, as little changed before the 1979 facelift. The Bobcat was of course the Mercury version of the Ford Pinto (CC here), slightly tarted up and at a slightly higher price point. I briefly owned a ’73 Pinto Squire back in the ’80s, and found that while it had a much higher grade interior (materials, fit and finish) than my base ’71 Vega, it was hobbled by a weak 2.3l/automatic combination–much Noise, Harshness and Vibration emanated when the pedal was pressed, but little noticeable acceleration occurred.

Small wagons like these two are often a “go to” type of vehicle for small, but growing, families (“It takes a Villager to raise a child”). Thus, it makes for an interesting exercise to compare a few specs between the Merc and those of that thirty-years-younger (2003-08) Toyota Matrix in the next space over:

Bobcat (2.3l) Matrix
Weight 2778lb 2679lb
HP 89hp (SAE net) 126hp
MPG 28.4 hwy 36 hwy
Cargo Area (rear seat down) 57.2 cu ft 53.2 cu ft
Length 178.8″ 171.3″
Width 69.7″ 69.9″
Height 52″ 61.6″

(Note: finding these specs was challenging, and different sources listed different numbers in some cases. YMMV.)

Surprisingly, the Bobcat actually has more maximum cargo area (by 5 cu ft) than the Matrix. The Toyota is 8.5″ shorter in length and almost 10″ taller in height, so this really speaks more to packaging and interior space utilization. Not to mention the Bobcat looks smaller, at least to my eye…

Finally, I couldn’t resist adding this (poor quality) recording of a vintage Mercury Bobcat television ad… “Love that Bobcat,” indeed. You can read more about the Bobcat in this CC, or see what might possibly be the best one left in the world here.