Junkyard Find: 1983 Mercury Lynx L Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1983 mercury lynx l wagon
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.
It 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.
Yes, there were Lynx mudflaps. This thing must have been King of the Lynxes back in 1983.
Power 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.
The 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.
Without 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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  • AoLetsGo AoLetsGo on Aug 27, 2018

    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.

    • AoLetsGo AoLetsGo on Aug 27, 2018

      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…”

  • Rocketrodeo Rocketrodeo on Oct 03, 2018

    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.

  • Kcflyer on one hand it at least wont have dirty intake valves like Honda's entire lineup of direct injection ice vehicles. on the other hand a CRV offers more room, more range, faster fueling and lower price, hmm
  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.