• Mar 10, 2010
Classic Mercury Tracer – Click above to watch the video after the break

"It's peppy," the salesman said as an enticement to buy... It's not that the Mazda 323/Ford Laser-based first-generation Tracer was a bad car, but the Escort apparently called stronger for our own hard-earned dollar, so we drove home in a brand new 1989 wagon. Ford apparently figured this out with the second-generation Tracer, which was joined with the Escort as part of a comprehensive redesign in the early 1990s.

Must have been a step in the right direction – that car managed to make it onto Car & Driver's 10Best list. A preponderance of Tracers seem to have been painted metallic teal, one of the hottest colors of the time, but even in its second iteration the Tracer was nothing more than someone else's hardware with a badge/grille job.

Out of all the shelved model names it could choose from, Mercury is apparently going to dust off the Tracer name for an interplanetary version of the new Focus. Since the next-gen Focus appears to be so good, the new Tracer ought to follow suit, but why not take this opportunity to remember a time when power mirrors and a tachometer were "features?" On to the videos, then, after the jump.







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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      had a friend with a Tracer wagon made up with Aussie Meteor badges, grille, 15" wheels (up from 14") and ROLA racks... not a bad car... and one Bwob Hall had a Tracer 5DR made up the same way (but "more")
      • 4 Years Ago
      WOW! Really? Bringing back the Tracer? Why does Mercury make the EXACT same car as Ford? Is there somewhere in this country where Fords aren't sold and Mercury's are? I don't understand why they can't be a totally different car company or just get rid of them. Hard to believe they're all that profitable.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only reason Mercury is still around is because it helps sell an extra fusion in disguise which helps with costs. Believe it or not but there are honestly people that think that Ford and Mercury cars are two models completly. Plus I think Ford is trying to make Mercury like Buick and Lincoln like Caddy. Or atleast the trim levels would make it appear that way. I had a friend that had a Tracer LTZ back in highschool it wasn't half bad once we fixed all the rust with trusty bond and primer lol. If they bring back the Tracer badge on the Focus and can release sportier versions then I am all for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed Rich... Don't know why we need both. Different trim levels would suffice IMO.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow there must have been some bad cars out in 1991 if Car and Driver's 10 Best Cars included a Mercury Tracer LTS! WOW!!!! Sucky year for sure!
        • 4 Years Ago
        The LTS was essentially a 4-door Escort GT, both of which were reskinned versions of the Mazda Protege. That was actually a pretty well sorted out vehicle, and the media actually praised it. Keep in mind what the compact car market was offering in 1991 as well...
        • 4 Years Ago
        the LTS had a 1.8 mazda engine that made about 127 hp, the basic tracer used Ford's 1.9 that made about 88 hp.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They were actually really good cars. Solid mechanicals. Decent styling. Good Fuel economy and decent power for their size and the time. I know someone who still drives a second generation Escort wagon as their second car. They had a much newer Mercury Cougar and decided to dump it and keep the Escort wagon because it has been much more reliable. Compared to a 1991 Dodge Shadow or Chev Cavalier the Escort/Tracer were decent vehicles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's the 90's, did you except something good?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well that is suprising! I guess the Mazda factor is the key here to all of your comments... It must have been a sleeper for sure. I was like 14 when it came out and I thought ewww back then lol.
      Swendor
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow talk about a flashback! This was my first new car and I loved it! For a cheap econobox to have lighted, yes lighted, door locks was unprecedented in 1988. Flip up the handle and the interior lights illuminated, along with the door locks. I was really disappointed when my '92 Integra didn't have that feature. Is this even offered anymore?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I bought a second hand 1989 Tracer with 137,000 miles on it and drove it to 225,000 before selling it to a friend in need of cheap transportation. It was such a neat car. I have missed it ever since. Gone are the days where you could buy a new car like this for $6,000!!! It never let me down. I doubt I will ever find an equal to my old friend.
      • 4 Years Ago
      33 seconds into the first commercial, I spit out my coffee laughing. Doofus maximus right there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I knew two people that owned the first gen tracer. one a three door the other a wagon. both were good cars. Basically a mazda 323. The wagon was an automatic and i remember thinking it needed another gear or two. at 70 i think the tach was at 4k
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow. I'd forgotten how cheesy the 80's were.
      Just needed Max Headroom and a C64 to round that first commercial out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love the last one: people were scared of it from the beginning!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lol... I have a focus, a tach and power mirrors still are "features". lol
        • 4 Years Ago
        ...but he doesn't have a Cobalt, so... it's not true. Genius.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I couldn't resist. It's not an awful car. If you had a cobalt it'd be true.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Really the Tracer wasn't a bad car--compared to the other cars at the time. Makes sense that Mercury would bring it back--they could use a hit right now, let alone a small miracle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So more badge engineering from Mercury. And this is news?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Using the same platforms is not always a bad idea--Lincolns are selling pretty well these days, even if Ford's attempt to position them next to Cadillac is perhaps a little optimistic--but some differentiation is clearly called for between Ford's Ford and Mercury lines.

        I mean, they could turn Mercury into Ford's version of Scion, and grab the burgeoning niche market for oddball crossovers, while still duplicating platforms and motors.

        First I'd move the Flex entirely over to Mercury and add a surfing/camping options package (perhaps with all-wheel drive if the platform supports it). Then I would build an xB "homage" (okay, ripoff) and a hot hatchback on the Mazda3/Ford Focus platform. I'd consider bringing a ute model from Australia. I'd turn the Mustang's current underpinnings into a shooting brake with an emphasis on handling in the twisties. If the Fiesta/Mazda2 hits big, I'd make one into a micro-ute.

        Mercury: The Macgyver of Cars.
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