A Brief Look at the Mercury Tracer

Mercury Tracer Picture

The Mercury Tracer: A History and Evolution

The Mercury Tracer was a compact car model produced by the Ford Motor Company’s Mercury brand from 1987 to 1999. Over its 12-year production run, the Mercury Tracer underwent several changes and improvements, keeping pace with the evolving needs and preferences of its target market. This article aims to explore the history and evolution of the Mercury Tracer vehicle, delineating the different generations and variations that made up this iconic car model.

The First Generation (1987-1989)

The first generation of the Mercury Tracer was launched in 1987 as a joint venture between Ford and Mazda, with the latter contributing to the car’s design and manufacturing. This generation came in two variations: the three-door hatchback and the four-door sedan. The engine used in the Tracer was a 1.6-liter Mazda B6 engine that delivered 82 horsepower and 86 lb-ft of torque. Initially, the manual five-speed transmission was standard, with an optional three-speed automatic available. The Tracer also had front-wheel drive and a front-independent suspension.

The Tracer’s exterior design was simple but sleek, with rounded edges, large windows, and a slim grille. The interior was equally basic, with cloth seats, manual windows, and a basic radio system. However, the Tracer offered ample legroom and headroom, making it comfortable for passengers.

The Second Generation (1990-1996)

The second generation of the Mercury Tracer was launched in 1990, featuring more updates and variations compared to its predecessor. The new variation of the Tracer produces 88 horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque. The engine used for the second-gen Tracer was a 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine that had both manual and automatic transmissions.

The exterior of the second-gen Tracer was dramatically changed, with a more modern, aerodynamic design featuring a more prominent grille and angled-along headlights. The interior was also revamped, with power windows and locks, improved upholstery, and a better sound system.

During this generation, the Mercury Tracer also produced a wagon version, which was not available in the previous generation. The wagon was designed to appeal as a more family-oriented vehicle, while maintaining the same performance and sleek design. The first Mercury Tracer wagon came equipped with a rear-facing third-row bench seat. It was also the first compact wagon to offer optional anti-lock brakes (ABS).

The Third Generation (1997-1999)

The third and final generation of the Mercury Tracer was introduced in 1997, bringing several significant updates and improvements to the model. The new generation now used a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produced increased horsepower of 110 and 125 lb-ft of torque. The Tracer also had a front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission.

The exterior design of the Mercury Tracer was dramatically changed with a box-like design, larger headlights, and a bigger grille. The wagon variation was dropped for this generation, leaving only the four-door sedan and the three-door hatchback.

One unique variation of the third-gen Mercury Tracer was the LTS (Luxury Touring Sedan) package released in 1997. The LTS package featured Chevy Cavalier suspension upgrades and a 15-inch alloy wheel with a firmer suspension. The vehicle also had a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cassette player, and better interior materials, adding a stylish and luxurious angle to the Tracer fleet.

The End of the Mercury Tracer

Despite its many iterations and improvements over the years, the Mercury Tracer was eventually discontinued in 1999. The model was replaced by the Mercury Mystique and Mercury Cougar two years before failing to meet California’s strict smog standards. The discontinuation of the Tracer marked the end of the Mercury brand, which quietly ended production in 2011 after over seventy years in the automobile industry.

The Legacy of the Mercury Tracer

The Mercury Tracer left a significant legacy in the compact car market of the 1980s and 1990s. The vehicle was an affordable, reliable, and stylish compact car that offered something for everyone. Over its 12-year production run, it underwent several modifications and improvements, keeping pace with the ever-changing needs of a new generation of car buyers. Although the Mercury Tracer is no more, its innovative design and engineering continue to inspire car manufacturers today.

RunBidSell Insights

The Mercury Tracer was an innovative and iconic compact car model that left an indelible mark on the 1990s automobile industry. Each of the three generations brought something unique, from the basic but sleek first-generation model to the more luxurious LTS package of the third-generation model. The Mercury Tracer embodied the needs and wants of its market and adapts to the evolving technology. While the Mercury Tracer may be gone, its legacy will never be forgotten in automobile history.


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