CC Capsule: 1992 Mercury Tracer LTS – An Almost Forgotten Gem?

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How quickly certain cars fall off the radar, especially ones that weren’t all that common in the first place? Like this Tracer LTS; when’s the last time you really noticed one? And this is a car that made Car & Driver’s 10 Best list in 1991. Well, I’m falling in love with it again all over.

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The gen2 Escort and Tracer were such fine little cars when they arrived in 1991, just about as good as it got. The difference was much more dramatic in the case of the Escort, since its predecessor was a bit of stinker, especially the early versions. Well, that’s because the new 1991 Escort and Tracer were essentially Mazda 323s, a platform that has almost always been at or near the top of its class. A happy handler, to say the least.

The gen1 Tracer was also Mazda 323 based, so the improvement wasn’t quite so stark. Actually, one could say that in terms of its base engine, the gen2 Tracer was a bit retrograde, since it now used the Escort’s 1.9 CVH mill, and not the Mazda motor.

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But not the LTS; like the analogous Escort GT, the LTS used the very fine Mazda BP 1.8 L DOHC four, making 127 hp. That was the way to go…

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That rev-happy engine deserved to be paired with the five-speed stick, though. The fact that this one is an automatic may help explain why it’s still in such good shape…maybe the buyer was drawn to the LTS’ red stripes more than what was under the hood.

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There’s certainly a lot of Sable mini-me going on here, right down to the light-bar front end, and of course that wrap-around-ish rear window. No blind spots here.

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