By on August 27, 2018

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Before the North American Ford Escort became a Mazda 323/Protegé sibling, the folks in Dearborn masterminded a Mercurized version known as the Lynx. Escort wagons are rare now (though I have shot a couple during my junkyard wanderings), so I did a double-take when I saw this optioned-up ’83 Lynx wagon in a Phoenix self-service yard last winter.

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, automatic gearshift - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIt has just about every option you could get on a Lynx that year, including automatic transmission, rear window washer/wiper, and air conditioning. The strange thing about the heavy option load is that the L trim level was the cheapest one.

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, mud flap - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsYes, there were Lynx mudflaps. This thing must have been King of the Lynxes back in 1983.

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPower came from this 1.6-liter four-cylinder, all 70 horses of it. There was a “High Output” version rated at 80 horsepower, as well.

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, CATCHIT sticker - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Catchit surfwear company was pretty hip when this car was new, then sold out to The Man with a move to The Valley in 1989.

1983 Mercury Lynx wagon in Arizona wrecking yard, fender emblem - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWithout the options, the MSRP on a new 1983 Lynx L wagon was $6,166, or about 16 grand in 2018 dollars. A new 1983 Honda Civic wagon went for $6,349, so the Lynx came with a competitive price tag.

Lynx. Now more than ever, the world belongs to Lincoln-Mercury.

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38 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1983 Mercury Lynx L Wagon...”

  • avatar

    “A new 1983 Honda Civic wagon went for $6,349, so the Lynx came with a competitive price tag.”
    Having owned a 83 Civic and an 83 Escort, I can assure you they are not comparable. Also, when new, that Lynx probably had cash on the hood, and the Civic likely would have had a substantial “market adjustment” in the other direction.

  • avatar

    Yep, driving those upscale Fords sure showed the world that you had arrived… to your full time job at Walmart

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Two phrases drive me absolutely up the wall:

    Now more than ever…


    As a [usually mother]…

    Both are non-sense nothing statements meant to make you think it’s important when it’s not at all.

  • avatar

    This Lynx was the top cat…..It has the 1.6L HO motor. Notice the 4 into 2 into 1 header, and the the second air intake tube. Those were the giveaways you had the HO.

    I had an 82 Lynx with the HO motor and 4 speed manual. It was quick for it’s time. It liked to be wound out, which was good, because you had to wind it out to get those 80 cats.

    Mine was the 2 door hatchback in blood red….loved it!

  • avatar

    This is another one of those cars that were everywhere back in the 90’s and then seemingly all vanished overnight.

    Interesting how every Ford in the 80’s had exactly the same writing font for everything on the dash, whether it was a Town Car or an Escort.

  • avatar

    It didn’t have the reliability of the corolla or the civic wagon, or the fuel efficiency, or the resale, or the charm.

    But it did have body-color mirrors and a big mouthful of chrome. And unlike the corolla at least, it also had front wheel drive which is great for the average driver in the snow.

  • avatar

    Yep, at that time most Hondas had ADM. Additional Dealer Markup.

  • avatar

    I remember my folks having an 81 Escort wagon as a used car somewhere around 1986. We didn’t have it long, it developed a cracked block or cracked head, something traumatic (and common with early Escorts from what our friend who worked at Ford told us, after the fact). I’m fairly certain it was traded on the 87 Horizon we had.

    All the used cars my folks had as a kid were manuals. Until our 90 Lumina, when my mother proclaimed she was tired of shifting.

  • avatar

    After college I bought a new, mid-optioned 1984 Ford Escort wagon, which was just a few trim bit different than this Lynx Wagon. Mine was a 5-speed. Perhaps it was the excitement of being young, but I loved that car. Perfect size and utility, with great fuel economy. Rode and drove nice, too, almost peppy with the manual. I was able to reach and operate all four window cranks from the drivers seat while driving.

    Unfortunately, the build quality was unbelievable poor. The nut atop the right rear strut tower popped off one afternoon. Almost a year to the day later the left one did the same. The engine began to run rough after three years, but the coup de gras was when I raised the hood to check the oil and the right hinge divorced itself from the cowl, dropping the hood on my head.

    That was at 7pm on a Tuesday night. By 9pm I owned a new 1989 Mustang that was built like a Rolls-Royce compared to the Escort.

    BTW, FWIW, The early 80s Escorts/Lynxes had the most robust 5mph bumpers as tested by whoever does that thing. And as a recent college grad, I can attest to that.

    • 0 avatar

      General assembly quality improved during the 1980s for Ford. The girl I dated in high school had a 1989 Escort LX 5 door, it seemed to be screwed together pretty well for a 10ish year old economy car.

      I really liked the car. I got it after she plowed it into a Neon about 3 years after high school was over (we were just friends by then). It actually wasn’t too badly damaged, and I intended to fix it, but I had nowhere to park it since I lived in an apartment at the time. So, I sold it to a guy down in Seattle who planned to fix it and use it for a pizza delivery car.

    • 0 avatar

      Did they import it from China? No seriously, read Eric Taubs “Taurus – The making of the car that saved Ford”. I could not believe that the country that put man on the moon was incapable of mass production of technically complex products.

  • avatar

    My parents bought a new 1985.5 Escort 3 door, it was pretty good to us, it made several cross-country trips as I recall. The only issue we had with it was in around 1991, it shot a spark plug out on the way to school one morning. Dad had it fixed by the next day.

    That was about a year before its untimely death by the force of a Chevy Crew Cab that T-boned it. All three occupants survived (my two brothers and their friend, who was in the back and completely unharmed).

  • avatar

    My freshman college roommate had one – either a Lynx or an Escort wagon – that started smoking in the interior. He pulled over and the smoke turned into a fire which destroyed the entire car.

    His replacement vehicle? An Escort hatchback!

    And yes, these used to be everywhere… back when my ’84 Nissan truck needed replacement, I asked my folks to help me buy an Escort GT (har!) but ended up with my dad’s 200k miles ’87 Nissan Stanza instead.

  • avatar

    I doubt many parts will be taken from this car, other than the emblems.

  • avatar

    Had a couple escorts in my day. 1st one I believe was a “81” escort SS wagon black on black. It was a good car in the time I had it. Traded it in on a 1987 new black escort GT. That thing was a nightmare! Ford could never get it to run right. When a tie rod started knocking around 30000 miles had it fixed and got rid of it.

  • avatar

    This is lightly equipped for a Lynx.

    No cruise control, no tilt wheel, no intermittent wipers, no center armrest/console, basic gauges, base model door panels and upholstery, steelies, no “info center,” doesn’t look to have the upper console with clock/date/timer, probably no map lights, probably no lighted visor vanity mirrors…

    • 0 avatar

      Also, most surprisingly, no electric rear window defroster. The switch for it would be above the A/C fan control.

      Were two-color paint jobs still available in ’83? They were optional in ’81-’82 even on low-end models.

  • avatar

    I do miss small station wagons. I think that the only one left is the Golf Sportwagen, and every once in a while, in moments of weakness, I think one would look good in my driveway.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay


  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Had an early 85 Lynx 2 door hatchback in charcoal grey with a gray interior with a 4 speed manual and air. The car had no acceleration and the heads went. Traded it for a 94 Escort wagon which was a vastly better car. The Lynx was the only car I ever had that I would have liked to see in a demolition derby.

  • avatar
    Ben T Spanner

    In 1982 my employer ordered me a new blue Escort. I quit.

  • avatar

    I had the next gen wagon. A 1989 Mercury Tracer, I know it was a totally different car (Mazda) but still it was light-years ahead of this one. Mine was a maroon wagon, with tinted windows, and custom wheels. It was a great little wagon that was fun to drive and problem free outside of regular maintenance.

    • 0 avatar

      Thinking about my old wagon got me poking around and I found this post on another site by one Andrew T.

      “My experience with the Tracer goes a long time back. My family bought a slightly-used wagon in 1990 that evidently originated as an unnamed Ford executive’s company car. It replaced a 1983 Ford Escort with a peculiar tendency to stall at inopportune moments (such as crowded freeway on-ramps), and whose brakes had once failed on us outright. The Tracer had air conditioning. It had a radio that worked. It had four doors, so no forcing kids to crawl over the front seats to get in. It had velour trim that felt like a lap of luxury compared to the Escort’s blue striped cloth. It never stalled. It never left us stranded. It wasn’t perfect (the interior knobs and levers had a tendency to break off after several years of UV exposure, and the road noise and vibration got unnerving around 60 mph), but compared to what came before, it was 100% better in every way.

      But, the car refused to die. Fast-forward a decade and a half. The Tracer has outlived the Escort by a factor of two, and lasted longer than we originally believed imaginable. The car’s been more or less willed into my hands, but the title is still held by another family member and I don’t have permission to do all the work on it that I want. Fitting my 6’4″ frame inside is a bit of a challenge, since the seat only rolls back so far and the steering wheel doesn’t tilt: I wind up making do by wrapping my knees around the steering wheel and lodging at the clutch and brake pedals with my toes. The whole thing is filthy inside and out from deferred maintenance, deferred car washes, and a bad seal in the engine bay. And, I’m regularly navigating some narrow hairpin roads in West Virginia in January.

      The January weather in this area usually straddles the freezing point: Ice comes and goes without warning, and sometimes without making itself known. The number of days in a winter with snow and ice on the road are dwarfed by the number of days where the roads are clear as can be, so almost no one bothers with snow tires. Many of these roads are deserted, and it’s tempting to go a bit faster on them than may be prudent. Put 2, 2, and 2 together, and…
      I turned the wheel, and the Tracer followed…sort of. There was black ice on the bend. I understeered, and next thing I knew I was barreling towards the left side of the road with nary a second to react. Now, deserted rural roads in this area often aren’t built with curbs or guard rails…so I careened off the pavement, through some brush, and down a 12-foot embankment, eventually ending up in a shallow creek. The car was on its side. The engine was still on (how’s that for reliability?), the heater was still on, the radio was still on, but there was no way I was going anywhere in it. I was dazed and saddened by the experience, but belted in and completely unhurt.

      The Tracer was pulled out later in the day. It was covered in battle scars. The left front fender was crushed in, and there was a nasty crease in the roof from where the Tracer had come to rest against a tree. I had figured it was forever ruined (and I was ashamed to drive it in public after that)…yet it still ran like a top as if nothing had happened. We kept it as a second car for five full years after the catastrophe. It eventually became someone else’s around-town driver in WV, and it just might still be on the road today…”

  • avatar

    There was never a greater gap in design and build quality among small cars than during this era. My only-5-years-old VW Rabbit was dying an expensive death, so I test drove everything front-drive in its class. I was accustomed to VW dynamics at that point, which is to say, pretty much state of the art. Toyota had yet to commit to FWD with its economy cars, and Chrysler was absymal then with its Omni/Horizon twins. It came down to an Escort/Lynx like this, a Nissan Sentra, and a Honda Civic. The new 1984 Civic was my first choice, but the ADM and scarcity put it out of budget. The Lynx drove more like my old Mustang II than the Civic. I settled on the Nissan, which was really not a bad choice at all and served me well, reliably and cheaply. But I replaced it down the road with a series of Hondas and Acuras.

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