Junkyard Find: 1988 Mercury Tracer Hatchback

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1988 mercury tracer hatchback

Here’s a rare one! We’re familiar with the 1990s Mercury Tracer that was a Mercury-badged Ford Escort (which was itself a Ford-badged Mazda), but the 1987-89 Tracer was a rebadged and left-hand-drive Ford Laser, a crypto-snazzy Australian version of the Mazda 323. They sold in very small quantities in the United States, and so it took me a moment to identify this example that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard. As an excellent example of “rare ≠ valuable,” it seemed worthy of this series.

Not even 65,000 miles on the clock. Perhaps it sat in a garage for most of its life, barely emerging onto the street.

It was running in 2006, though, because there’s a Colorado State Parks pass from that year on the windshield.

Vaguely sporty-looking yet late-80s generic.

The Mazda B engine, used in everything from Kia Rios to Mazda Miatas.

Just the car for a night of wrestling!

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  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Sep 04, 2014

    It was clever of whomever did the Merc rebadge to only include rear badging on the glass portion. Just some glass labeling can change it to a whole different marque.

  • Japanese Buick Japanese Buick on Sep 06, 2014

    This car must have been popular with women buyers considering that most of the reminisces here are not about owning the car, but about women we knew who owned them. And that includes me. In 1989 (I think, +/- a year or so) my girlfriend bought one of these as her first new car. She shopped for it and did the deal herself and she was very proud. It was a really nice car and IMO she was justifiably proud. It was less than a year old when she was driving from her home in VA to visit me in NC in a snowstorm and had an accident. It cost nearly half the value of the car to fix it and she insisted it be done right. Said it was a nearly new car before the wreck and it better be nearly new coming out of the shop. It was. I married her a few years later, but unfortunately the marriage didn't last as long as the courtship, but that car was still giving her great service when we parted ways.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.