Hooniverse Fastback Friday – How about a Pinto and a Bobcat?

Welcome to another edition of Hooniverse Fastback Fridays. There is nothing fast about the two cars in this posting, but they are two neat little cars that are probably worth nothing close to their asking prices, but does that make them bad? Take a look, and apart from the price, are they even remotely lustworthy?

The Pinto was Ford’s answer to a new wave of imports when it was introduced in the Autumn of 1970. Just like the Chevrolet Vega, only 2-door body styles were offered, which was a distinct disadvantage when the Japanese Manufacturers were starting to offer 4-Door sedans. But are 2-door, RWD economy cars collectible? Let’s start with this very low mileage Pinto, offered by the San Diego Collection. It looks like a base pinto, with a 4-speed stick, and no A/C.

According to the listing:

1978 Pinto 10,000 Original Miles Mint Condition 1 repaint Like new interior 4 cyl 4 speed Green with Green interior

Asking price for this Pinto is $12,500. See the Auto Trader listing here.

How about a Mercury version of the Pinto, which the boys from LM called Bobcat. It was a very convenient name, and tied in well with the companion Cougar. As with most of the Mercury brand during this time period, it was really nothing more than a fancy Ford, with better trim, and not a whole lot more.

According to the Auto Trader listing:

1983 Bobcat hatchback. Only 38,000 actual documented miles. All original in excellent condition throughout. Gorgeous original red finish, perfect red interior, cold air conditioning power brakes, AM/FM. This beauty needs nothing.

Asking price for this Pinto in drag? $4,950. See the listing here.
OK Hoons, I have to ask this question: Would you ever want to own a Malaise Era subcompact from Ford or GM? They can be made to perform with a simple engine transplant, or you could get one to cruise around in as a cheap way to get into the car hobby. I’m sure you will all have opinions, so express them here.

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  1. muthalovin Avatar

    Neither do anything at all for me. I do like the turquoise/mint/green/teal on the Pinto, but no way, no how would I ever want a malaise era subcompact. There are so many more desirable vehicles out there to waste my time with these shitbuckets.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    Check out how poorly the headlight doors fit on the Pinto. It might be worth $6k, but that's about it. The Bobcat is probably worth its asking price, however. Too bad it's not a V6. A friend of mine in high school had a fully loaded V6 Bobcat. Orange and white, auto, A/C, factory alloy slot mags, the whole works. The Bobcat is a 1980, BTW, the last year before the equally craptastic Escort/Lynx twins arrived.

  3. tonyola Avatar

    For the record, the only Pinto I would even think about buying is a Cruising Wagon with stick and A/C but without stripes. Having said that, the green car is problematic. What's up with the left headlight bucket? It looks out of kilter. And why is it being photographed with a rug in the dash? Why did it need repainting with such low mileage? $12,500 is ridiculous for a base car with no A/C. The red car is a little better, and the price is not an outrage. It looks to be in excellent shape. However, post-'78 Bobcats were a lot less distinctive than the earlier cars, and the automatic is going to sap any smidgen of fun that possibly exists in this car.
    <img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_MiZ-UqDwf6c/TC9gtnolHEI/AAAAAAAAFvE/TpfLUmkINrs/s1600/1978+Ford+Pinto+Cruising+Wagon+sedan+delivery+2+Door+and+Neal+2.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Low miles plus ancient cheap car means it was owned by somebody elderly.
      When my wife's grandmother was still alive, we once had a need to borrow her car. It was ten years old at the time and the odometer showed only four digits. The outside of the car was full of scrapes, though. I think nearly every other time she parked the car it rubbed the carport pole.
      We asked my father-in-law to stop driving about two years ago. He had a neighbor who didn't own a car, and they would often carpool for errands; the neighbor would drive my FIL's car. Two months ago, they both got cars, and the neighbor has sort of abandoned him now that he has his own wheels. My wife's dad has gone out on his own a few times. In December, he had a wreck (the other guy was ticketed). While his car was in the bodyshop, he smacked a wall in a parking garage in the loaner vehicle–his second wreck in a three-week period and probably less than 100 road miles between incidents.
      Elderly-owned cars don't have much wear on the driveline, but the same can't be said for the exteriors.

  4. Syrax Avatar

    Were all Pintos jacked-up like that? Wait, I don't think that's what I meant…

  5. P161911 Avatar

    Sorry neither of these really do it for me. Wouldn't you need install a fuel cell or something in these to avoid near spontaneous combustion? Of course similar GM sub-compacts have near spontaneous disintegration. This money would probably get a Cosworth Vega, which would be much more fun. Or spend 1/10 the money and get a Chevette.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      The Pinto was a sacrificial lamb thrown into the volcano of over-hyped anti-establishment media (Mother Jones, specifically) and overly-ambitious litigators — despite having a safety record nearly indistinguishable from any other contemporary subcompact.
      (See the footnote table at the bottom of page 43 that points out that the Pinto had fewer fatalities on a per-car basis during 1975 and 1976 than the Toyota Corolla.)

      1. humblejanitor Avatar

        It would still be regarded as a P.O.S, even if it didn't explode on impact.

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    I have much more affection for Pintos than most. I have a number of positive Pinto memories.
    – My first wrenching experience was on a nearly-new '76 Pinto Sedan that a guy at the end of my bock bought as a rebuilder from an insurance auction. I spent most of the summer of '76 in his garage, helping him bang everything back into shape.
    – Secondly, my girlfriend Junior year of HS drove a Pinto wagon.
    – My college roommate had a silver Bobcat hatchback. There were many Friday nights we'd pile into it and head to the bowling alley in St. Joe.
    If I could, I would love to find a cherry Bobcat Wagon (…with the faux-classic '78-earlier grille, of course!)
    <img src="http://www.lovefords.org/78/pintobobcat/New_Folder/1978_mercury_bobcat_wagons_001.jpg"&gt;

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      St. Joe in what state, can I ask?

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
        Peter Tanshanomi

        St. Joseph, Missouri; my roommate's home town. We went to college about a half-hour north of there.

        1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

          I travel often to St. Joe for work….. small world!

        2. Alff Avatar

          Are you a Bearcat? My wife is AND she went to NWMSU.

          1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            I am!

          2. Alff Avatar

            Kelley (nee Langford) graduated in '88. Did you know her?

          3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
            Peter Tanshanomi

            Nope, I was there from 88 to 91.

  7. Maymar Avatar

    The Pinto is closer to the car I'd want, given the clutch and more attractive earlier styling, but 12 grand is too steep. Something similar for 3-5 grand is perfect though, to use as the starting point. A small RWD hatchback is approximately my perfect car, and the Pinto engine can easily be PAH-ified (as the Merkur XR4Ti proved). Although, the Vega (especially the early ones that looked like a 2/3 scale Camaro) is a much prettier car.

  8. Dutch Avatar

    I put a lot of miles on my 80 Pinto beating back and forth to work. It ran cheap, and was taking me somewhere I didn't want to go. Great car? No. Exciting ride? Not even! Cheap work beater? Perfect. It performed well as a simple tool, I wouldn't mind having another one. BTW, 10 of 'em ain't worth $12,500.

  9. P161911 Avatar

    Thanks, I wasn't sure when those issues got sorted out, if ever. Still, GM products of the time interest me more. I guess Mopar really didn't have a domestic competitor, only the captive Mitsubishi imports.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      Towards the end of the 70's there was the Dodge Omni 024 and Plymouth Horizon TC3 that were similar in size and shape. They were FWD, though.
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/79PlymouthHorizonTC3.jpg&quot; width=500>

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I would consider the Omni/Horizon more contemporary to the FWD Escort and GM X-Body cars than the Pinto/Vega/Chevette family.

  10. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Oh ghod… the horror… the HORROR…
    I owned two pintos, in the 1985-87 timeframe. The first cost me $75, the second cost $100. Nasty little things, but I couldn't afford better. "Beatrice", an 1973 hatchback (with gas tank fix) got me back and forth from Boston to Amherst, MA, and my then-girlfriend for about $10 in gas, but it would go 35mph uphill on Route 2 and 202 to get there. The "Dark Star" was a hatchback with black rattle-can paint job (and a white Starsky and Hutch stripe) that got me around Amherst when I moved out there, but it died on a road trip to northern Vermont, and I had to beg the tow guy to take it to the junkyard without charging me. They required constant fixing and nursing just to keep moving on the road.
    The headlight trim on the green one looks like someone messed up trying to fix the sheet metal and maybe the metal underneath.
    I may be in a bad mood this morning, but in my humble estimation, these two cars are NOT worth ANY more money than what I paid for my two Pintos. Not even in time-machine pristine shape, except as a collector joke or a movie car.

  11. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    The only way I'd be interested in either of these cars would be if I were sitting on some insane Ford powertrain lacking a place to live.

  12. Beer_Rover Avatar

    I once owned a Pinto. It only stayed intact for a few days in my possession. Some friends and I pulled the 1600 Kent engine and sent the rest directly fromt he seller's garage to the "auto recyclers." Since it was a late 1600 with a 711 block casting and square main caps, it found its way into a friend's Lotus Type 51 FF.
    Every once in a while I wish I had hung on to it and turned it into something like this
    <img src="http://blog.caranddriver.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/1972-Car-and-Driver-Ford-Pinto-race-car.jpg&quot; height="400" width="700">

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      I think I remember reading about this back in the day. It actually was pretty competitive, and it really pissed off a lot of car snobs when it smoked the usual array of European machinery. I thought it was funny as hell.

  13. Jimbo Avatar

    I think I was conceived in a Mercury Bobcat wagon.

  14. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I'm really digging the green Pinto. I like the color and the interior on it. Too bad about the price though as there is no way in hell that I would spend that for a Pinto. (Hypothetically) what would I want to do with it if I had it? Simple: 2.3 turbo/5 speed swap from a T-Bird turbo coupe! However, I do tend to think that cars with mileage this low and condition this nice belong in a museum somewhere. There are plenty enough Pintos with regular wear and tear from which I could build my sleeper.

  15. jiveturkey Avatar

    Mercury! Password for Action in the 70s!

  16. 4DoorNoMore Avatar

    Neither holds any ivalue for me except sentimental. My mom's first new car, which she drove until I was six or so, was a '75 Mercury Bobcat Runabout. It was metallic green with a white vinyl top.
    The interior shots definitely bring back a few memories. I remember the look on my mom's face when she discovered me jamming pennies in the seat belt latches. I guess I thought they were piggy banks…

  17. CptSevere Avatar

    I learned to drive in a Pinto wagon, a 1974. That poor little car put up with some serious teenage abuse, I'll tell you that. Yeah, I finally killed it, but to this day I have a measure of respect for the little turd. Not enough to pay twelve and a half grand for another one. Maybe a few hundred bucks for a shell, and find a wrecked Thunderbird Turbo Coupe or Mercur and swap in the beastlier engine, now you'd have something.

  18. Mad_Science Avatar

    The Pinto intrigues me as a platform.
    There's a ton of OEM swappability and aftermarket support for it, meaning a 220hp 2.3 turbo, 5-speed, disc-braked cruising wagon is a very real and attainable possibility.
    Of course, most of that attraction is based on the the near-giveaway prices that most Pintos (and siblings) trade for, not this Museum of Malaise inductees.

  19. nitroracer Avatar

    Looks like a madza in the back, cosmo baby.
    <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/182/1941/25453470015_large.jpg&quot; width="600">

  20. BlackIce_GTS Avatar

    "But are 2-door, RWD economy cars collectible?"
    I think anything there's more than one of is collectible, it's just a matter of the money to sense ratio.
    If you're going to add 'malaise era' and 'Ford or GM' qualifiers, I can't think of one I'd own, but 2dr RWD economy cars… there's a few.

  21. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    Confession: "Pinto" is one of my daily CL searches.
    As are Gremlin, Falcon, Comet, Courier, MGB, Datsun. AMC, Dune Buggy, Baja Bug, Willy's T-tops and 57 Ford.
    A favorite memory is 6 cousins and I, plus 4 aunts crammed into an Orange 73 Pinto Runabout, with white vinyl top and slotted mags, stuck on a steep hill in San Fransisco because my aunt kept stalling the clutch and the car behind us got too close.
    We thought we were gonna die.

  22. humblejanitor Avatar

    I'll take the Bobcat. The trim is better and better design as well.
    Though it's still a Pinto with lipstick.

  23. mdharrell Avatar

    Love That Bobcat!
    [youtube wNN68JYy9bw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNN68JYy9bw youtube]

  24. Van Sarockin Avatar
    Van Sarockin

    The Pinto gets more crap than it really deserves. Mainly because Ford couldn't be bothered to make a fuel tank that wasn't an explosion hazard. Simple fix: don't get rear ended.
    As for these cars, the Pinto is preferable, but not in that color or that price. Multi-thousands for any of them seems incredibly high. My favorite was a trim model that was purple over white. Very fly.

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