It’s no overstatement to say that Ford stylists went overly ovoid on a global basis in the mid-1990s, with cars such as the 1994 Scorpio, 1995 Contour, 1996 Taurus, 1997 Escort, and the 1998 Falcon, all sporting heavily ovoid design language, allegedly inspired by the blue oval logo itself. With its more limited availability, lower sales volume, and less overall freedom as a separate entity, the Mercury brand had little choice but to follow suit.
Mid-to-late ’90s Mercurys still sold in decent numbers, so it isn’t unusual to see them still on the roads today. However, this particular photo-op is a somewhat less common situation, especially considering that the Tracer wears the “Trio” decor package and that it’s the Sable which is painted in that rose gold color which it seems like every other Tracer was sold in.
With the generational change seeing it increasingly impossible to imagine oneself in a Mercury, it makes you wonder what year it would have been economically sensible to pull the plug on the brand. No doubt more than a few years before these two were built.
They seem to be in remarkably good condition for their age.
Actually my aunt bought a Sable in the blue color of the Tracer and my cousin is still driving it – complete with the Yamaha engine!
I thought the Yamaha engine was the V8 used in the SHO Taurus. Did they also have a hand in the DOHC V6?
There is a lot of dislike for the ovoid Taurus, but I think the styling was even less successful on the Sable. The chrome grille looked fussy and out of place, the very linear taillights looked at odds with the oval theme, and the unconventional oval rear window of the Taurus is more interesting than the standard one fitted here.
Agree with both points. I’ve never heard of the SHO engine being in any Mercury’s. And I always thought that ovoid Sable was about as ugly a car that ever wore a Mercury badge. Which, considering things like the Turnpike Cruiser, is saying something.
I sometimes think of buying a 1997 Sable and customizing it to accent it’s quirky styling. Maybe an airbag suspension, moonies, and smaller rims would work.
the Sable looks just like the 97 my Mom bought new and still has…with a whopping 28k in mileage!
While I still occasionally see Escorts from the mid and late 90s, their Mercury “sisters”, the Tracer, have pretty much disappeared. Aside from silver, most Tracers I remember seeing were this dark blue or a similar dark color. Sables, on the other hand, always seem to be painted in lighter colors like the car here.
I think 1 reason why I didn’t care for the “Oval” Sables is due to their looking like the designers were given the basic body shell and a big box of unrelated parts. The grille, headlights, and tail lights all look somehow wrong.
Like Teddy, I’ve often thought of buying an “Oval” Sable and customizing it, but to correct the design flaws.
BTW, I think Ford/Mercury had the right idea with the “original” Tracer (the Mazda 323 hatchback “clone”) but, apparently, the market wasn’t ready for a loaded/premium compact hatchback. At least in the mid 90s Tracer got the LTS model for a few years.
Some designer penning the 96 Sable actually thought to themselves, “I know what’s a good looking car, the Datsun 200SX, I’m going to use those taillights!”.
The ovoid Taurus twins: the result of Ford not having a clue what the customer wanted. Just like GM and the ION.
Rather than improve what was lacking in their superstar, they benchmarked the current Camry.
And Mercury? Was there ever a company more cynical toward it’s mid priced offerings over so many decades as Ford ?
I can imagine myself in a 2000 and later Mercury Sable LS, but not in the 96. The refreshed Sable looks much more coherent. The refreshed Taurus not so much. For once the Taurus has a sad face with the corners of the grille pulled down. The Sable has a smiling face with the corners of the grille pulled up a little. It’s almost a Mona Lisa kind of smile. The greenhouse of the Sable is better without the windows in the C-pillar. In fact the Sable is making it so obvious that the C-pillar window in the Taurus is superfluous. The rear looks well balanced as well. I like how the taper of the sides accent the width of its stance. To me it looks purposeful in the Ro80 kind of way. Imagine there were only the 2000 Sable, no baggage of kinship with an ovoid Sable and Taurus. I believe more people would appreciate its confident and understated appearance.
I pan the ’96. The 2000 though got it right.
The Sable looks good 20 years later. A design that looks so advanced.
I had a string of company cars starting in 1990 and they were all low end Taurus models. The front seat in the 1996 “flounder face” ovoid Taurus was much more comfortable on long drives than the one in its 1992 predecessor. The oval rear window was also deceptively small from the driver’s perspective; it seems that much of the window’s border was blacked out on the inside. It was easy to clean the inside of the rear window because it was so small.
And the fold-away center console was quite handy. It was pulled up and in use most of the time, but could be stowed away for three across seating in the front.
I noticed that the black Tracer has the older 3-numeric, 3-alpha Massachusetts license plate with green lettering. Were these plates issued as single (rear) plate only? Do the plates transfer with the owner? In California, the plates remain with the car when it is sold, transferred or junked. It looks like Massachusetts does not have a general reissue of license plates like in California, where some older cars have blue plates and black plates and white plates from the late 80’s with the “art deco” font.
Don’t let’s forget how much money Ford flushed down the crapper with the non-twin ’86 Taurus/Sable, two cars that looked alike but shared no sheetmetal.
And then there was the Mercury Mistake, or at least that’s what its name sounded like except for one vowel movement.
Overall, Mercury = reheated Fords. Yawn.