Eye Candy: Peppy ’78 Bobcat powers up family memories
These baby Mercurys — badge-engineered Ford Pintos — were inexpensive workhorses, and not many survived. Making this special-ordered six-cylinder coupe, owned by one family since new, very special indeed.
The car: 1978 Mercury Bobcat
The owners: Wayne McKibbin and family
The story: This car, owned by our family since new, was purchased on April 1, 1978, by my father Lorne McKibbin. This was the last new car he bought before passing away in 1982. When my dad ordered it I was with him, and he said he needed a smaller car with good visibility. The Bobcat has a full-glass hatchback.
My mother, Lilian McKibbin, kept driving it, sparingly, until 1996, when she decided not to renew her driver’s license. The Mercury was then parked in the garage of the family home where it stayed until Lilian passed away in 2008.
The house was sold, and the car was towed out, and placed in storage in late 2008 while the family decided its fate. Myself, being in the “old car” hobby, along with my wife Christine, and son Alex, thought it would be nice to restore it as a tribute to my late parents.
The Bobcat was in reasonable overall shape after being left for all those years but did not run and was a bit scratched and beat up. The car has the original V6; cars with this option were seldom kept in dealer stock. It has been restored to factory specifications with the exception of a new dual exhaust system. The interior cleaned up well and is original.
The stripes, by Main Source Graphics in Vaughan, and the wheels were my idea. The original wheels and tires, not on the car in the pictures, are in my garage.
Mechanical restoration was done by my friend at R and P Automotive in Maple. Body and paint was by Wilson Niblett Motors in Richmond Hill.
So now, 18 years after being sidelined, our Mercury Bobcat 3-door runabout, VIN# 8T24Z527020, is again on the road. It attends cruise nights and events along with our other historic vehicles. We are amazed at the attention the sub-compact Mercury and its story get.
It will continue to be a one-family owned car, keeping alive the memory of those now passed. A decal on the back says, “In loving memory of Lilian and Lorne McKibbin.”
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