Junkyard Find: 1995 Mercury Tracer Trio

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

The Trio package included these fender emblems and a decklid wing; the paint color appears to be Ultra Violet Metallic.

This car earned its keep, racking up close to a quarter-million miles during its 22 years of service.

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.

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).

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.

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!”

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Webibeay Webibeay on Jan 16, 2018

    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!!!!

  • CarOli CarOli on Jan 19, 2018

    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?

    • ColoradoFX4 ColoradoFX4 on Feb 13, 2018

      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.

  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.
  • Akear This is similar to what lazy GM and Ford used to do.