By on January 15, 2018

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Kicky appearance packages and vivid colors were all the rage among Detroit makers of cheap econoboxes during the late 1980s through middle 1990s, and so it became necessary for the Dearborn masterminds to create a Mercurized Ford Escort that would enthrall younger car shoppers. Thus was the Mercury Tracer Trio born. Here’s a screaming purple ’95, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, fender badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Trio package included these fender emblems and a decklid wing; the paint color appears to be Ultra Violet Metallic.

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, odometer - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
This car earned its keep, racking up close to a quarter-million miles during its 22 years of service.

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
This car is a Mazda under the skin, being a sibling to the Protegé, but the engine comes straight from Ford. This is the 1.9-liter, 88-horsepower version of the CVH four-cylinder, a Michigan-built engine with European ancestry.

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, grille - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Mercury Sables got an illuminated plastic grille insert (which usually yellowed and cracked after a few years), but the Tracer got a non-illuminated plastic grille insert (which usually yellowed and cracked after a few years).

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, interior - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The original 1980s Tracer was based on the Australian-market, Mazda 323-based Ford Laser; it didn’t sell well in the United States, but that didn’t stop the Mercury Division from reviving the name for the Escort-based Tracer.

1995 Mercury Tracer in Colorado Wrecking Yard, power seat belt - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
These horrible automatic seat belts were pure maddening misery, especially the oft-recalled Mazda ones like this. The best that can be said about them is that they weren’t as bad as the seat belt interlock systems required for US-market 1974 cars.

“It’s gotta have a serious sound system!”

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24 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1995 Mercury Tracer Trio...”

  • avatar

    The 1.9L was a sad motor. The LTS with the Mazda 1.8L was the one to get.

    • 0 avatar

      This. Had a ’93 Protege with that engine, and it was a terrific little car.

    • 0 avatar

      But, pretty reliable if not overheated. Non-interference with this version, so no need to haz a sad if the timing belt lets go. Just replace it and hit the road, Jack. Very much unlike the 2.0L version that followed in the 1997-02 Escort sedan and wagon/Tracer.

      Don’t ignore a leaky heater core. It doesn’t take much to overheat these, and they will take a royal dump in no time.

  • avatar

    Listen to those 1990s stereotypes shine through in that ad.

  • avatar

    Plush velour accents, natch.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The K&N decal makes me feel sad for the owner. But it also reminds me of the time I put the sticker on my stepdad’s 1987 Olds Customer Cruiser that said “Slick 50 Protected!” on the window above the fuel door where we had poured one container of it into the tank.

    That was also the car I put some silicone-based paint protectant on it that I bought from WalMart after seeing about 100 30 minute infomercials for it. You know the ones where they would set the paint on fire and run it through 1000 car washes and it would be perfect. Well, they didn’t show how it would look after being left in the elements for a year.

  • avatar

    The impromptu jack stand in the first photo is supporting more weight than it’s rated for.

  • avatar

    About up until 2009, I owned a 1995 Ford Escort sedan that was essentially identical to this Tracer. Aside from the power windows failing, it was a rock solid car. Very reliable, rugged, and durable. It had its faults: the engine was loud and agricultural, the whole interior was a homage to the color blue (everything, the seats, carpets, dashboard, seat belts were blue), and it was devoid of any personality. But still, it was a likeable car. The seats and interior were comfortable, it felt solid, and despite having 88 horsepower, it felt robust enough on the freeway and was easy to drive.

    Reliable, bland, and inoffensive. This was basically Ford’s Corolla of the 90’s

    On a side note: I can’t help but look at the interior shot and remember that the passenger airbag cover was a strange rubbery material that warped a little over time. It was a strange choice over the usual plastic

  • avatar

    My mother had a ’91 and ’95 Escort. The ’91 survived my teenage driving years and all the punishment I could throw at it. The ’95 was reliable transportation. Can’t complain.

  • avatar

    My middle school English teacher drove one of these (in station wagon form) for many years. It was an odd duck given that her farmer husband bought only Chevrolets.

    I did think it was one of the more attractive small station wagons of all time.

    • 0 avatar

      I have a strong suspicion that the station wagon was more reliable than the sedan/hatchback, but I can’t prove it.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a 95 Escort wagon. Fairly reliable vehicle. The rear “shock/strut towers” visited Rustville way before I was ready to give up on the car. Then I experienced a RIF in 2009 and was unemployed. As it was pronounced “Unsafe”, (and I couldn’t afford two vehicles) I took the Escort to a local used parts yard. Wouldn’t mind having another one actually.

  • avatar

    Mercury Tracer was my first used car, but mine had Mazda’s 1.8l engine which was very eager to rev. Despite me being a 4th or 5th owner and being beaten almost to death, it drove quite well. I remember the tranny being very eager to downshift when the go pedal went down, where other cars had a very noticeable and long delay.

  • avatar

    I had the same generation of Escort – picked it up for $100 (it was nearly more rust than car) and drove it almost a year before it got in the path of a Chrysler 300. It was a decent, solid little car (slow though, with the 1.9/4A), and it taught me about lift-off oversteer by accident. I liked the automatic belts too – most passengers found it to be a fun novelty.

    A friend of mine (the guy I bought it from) had a wagon he ran up to about 200k, so they were durable enough too.

  • avatar
    KM From AU

    And here in all its glory is an Australian Version with 102,000km on it (63,000mi) in a limited edition complete with Sunroof!

    I coveted one of these when I finally could afford to by my second car, but ended up with a 1 year old Corolla that served its purpose

  • avatar

    Hard to believe I actually owned 2 of these… a 93′ Automatic which i purchased used with 3,000 miles on it, and when it proceeded to fall apart after 2 years, a ’95 5 speed Tracer Trio. The ’95 drove great and moved along quite well with the stick, but also proceeded to fall apart after 2 years and I traded it on a Subaru….

    The ’93 was a true POS, the ’95 was nicer but in the end the same…. you can put lipstick on a pig… but it’s still a pig!!!!

  • avatar

    Wasn’t the “Trio” a package that included three expensive (on their own) options like AC, Cassette deck, and Alloy wheels or something like that?

    • 0 avatar

      I think it was basically Mercury’s version of the Escort Sport, which included the same options you mention, along with a driver’s airbag (before they were federally mandated). But I’m not sure the Escort Sport was ever offered for the 4-door, just the 3- and 5-door.

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