Junkyard Find: 1995 Mercury Tracer Trio

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1995 mercury tracer trio

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!”

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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.

  • Tassos I knew a woman in the area, a journalist (at least she claimed to be a reporter of some kind) who owned one of these tiny pickups with a manual transmission. SHe was only 40 at the time, but she must have been hard of hearing, because she would routinely forget to shift and we would go at fairly high speeds in very low gear, which made a huge racket, which did not seem to bother her (hence my deafness hypothesis). Either that, or she was a lousy driver. Oh well, another very forgettable, silly car from the 80s (and if my first and LAST VW, a 1975 Dasher wagon, was any indication, a very unreliable one too!)
  • Tassos Now as for the Z specifically, Car and Driver had a comparison test of the new Z400, a car that looks good on paper, with plenty of HP etc, but, despite the fact that the cars that win in those tests are usually brand new models that are more up to date than their aging rivals, the Z finished DEAD LAST in the test, to my ovbious surprise.
  • Arthur Dailey Sorry but compare that spartan interior to the Marks that Corey is writing about. 'A cigarette lighter'. Every Mark had 4 cigarette lighters and ashtrays. And these came standard with 'a 3.4-liter, 182-horsepower straight-six in the engine compartment and a five-speed manual transmission'. Those do not tick off many of the luxury boxes aspired to by 'the greatest generation'.Not sure about the 7 series but one of My Old Man's associates showed up once with a brand new 5 series circa 1977 and they gave him such a bad time that he traded it for a Fleetwood within a week.
  • Tassos I clearly have no sentimental attachment to any cars from the 80s. I myself drove a Dasher (passat) wagon with horrible reliability, and then a Pontiac 2000, very fuel efficient for its time with its 1.8 lt and 5 speed, but a small econobox crudely made, with no luxuries inside. But most other cars of the era were really CRAPPY, unsafe, both in terms of passive AND active safety, had very few options modern cars have, etc etc. The best car I owned then was a 1991 Honda Civic 5-sp hatch, but that was also an 80s design that was on sale from 1987-1991. Not just the domestics were crappy then, but so were m ost of the imports. As you can see, I have ZERO "nostalgia" for any of these, especially not for the unreliable, poorly made JUNK from DATSUN-NISSAN, which is widely reviled overseas as a maker of small pickup trucks that are the favorites of Gypsies selling watermelons from their bed.
  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).