AM Radio Included: 1983 Mercury Lynx

Despite once roaming American roads in vast quantities, economy cars from the 80s are scarcely seen today. But if you were to spot one, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn it was a 1980s-era Ford Escort (extra points if it’s an Escort GT). However, far less frequently seen is its corporate twin, the Mercury Lynx. This example here on eBay has under 25,000 miles from new and aside from some small break-outs of rust, remains in excellent condition. 

The first-generation Escort was intended to serve as Ford’s “world car,” beginning a trend of sharing components with European versions of the same vehicle. In some way, we have the Escort/Lynx to thank for making vehicles like the Focus RS available stateside, as these early econoboxes paved the way for Ford’s European offerings finding a home in U.S. vehicle lineups. The Lynx featured here was a short-lived offshoot of this experiment, with slow sales leading to its early exit from showrooms.

That’s not to say it was a bad car; rather, it seems to be a problem Ford still has today, with its platform-sharing derivatives failing to offer a compelling reason to buy the same car for more money (I’m looking at you, Lincoln Continental). The Lynx featured here is saddled with the automatic transmission, but it’s not like the manual converted the carb’d four-cylinder into a rocketship. If you sought a more engaging driving experience in a Lynx, the rare and impossible to find today LTS was the way to go.

Overall, this Lynx presents as a time-capsule car should: spotless interior, unmessed-with engine bay, straight body lines. The seller admits there are some spots of rust (but doesn’t elaborate) and that one of the steel wheels is missing a chrome trim ring. He seems particularly excited that it comes with an AM radio, but it could well be the AM radio was the only option box checked when it was new. The asking price is a bit ambitious at $6K but there is the option to submit a best offer. In the meantime, I’ll bet you $5 you can’t find an LTS in anything resembling drivable condition – prove me wrong!

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Mike

    $6K? 😆 Another example of someone who thinks because it’s low miles and in good shape for its age it somehow makes it valuable. What do you think this would’ve sold for in the mid 90’s? Regardless of the make or model I do enjoy seeing 30+ year old cars in this condition but I’m sorry, these were junk. To each his own I guess.

    • Tony S

      I’m not saying this example is worth the ask but in general, condition, such as low miles and good shape, does make a car more valuable.
      A friend in college had one of these and that little engine would rev to the high heavens. Seemed like he couldn’t get it to blow…

      • Dean C.

        “He would rev & rev…. and couldn’t get it to blow the engine up….”
        Your friend sounds a very intelligent individual….. lol
        I can’t think of anything more productive that a student (who hopefully by that time has been cut loose by his parents, to pay his own bills, and make his own way) with even an AVERAGE degree of brain power, would do…. ha ha

  2. gtyates

    I had an ’82 Lynx in high school. It was my Dad’s originally, but he passed it along to me. Mine was a 2 door and it had the 4 speed manual and a/c. It also had the “HO” engine, lol! I upgraded the AM radio to a cassette unit and added rear speakers. Decent little car actually. Timing belt went just before 60k miles, but Ford covered it under a “secret” extended warranty. When I let it go it had somewhere around 120k miles on it. Mine was a medium blue color with matching vinyl/cloth interior.

  3. Warren

    I was running the road for Ford during that era and guess what, they were bad then and they are bad now. Only useful as a benchmark as to how far the technology has evolved. 6K no way.

  4. Ken Carney

    What a POS! My wife and I owned an ’86
    Escort wagon that had LEMON written all
    over it! If you weren’t replacing the valves
    when you broke a timing belt, you were
    replacing the cylinder head at less than 50K miles. Ours was so bad we actually
    called the bank and told them to come
    get it! Still recall the day the front wheel
    drive mechanism broke in traffic and the
    Ford dealership here in Winter Haven Fl.
    refused to repair it even though it was still under warranty. Had to get a lawyer
    to make them repair it. Didn’t buy a Ford
    product for many years afterward until we
    bought a pair of Tauruses in the late ’90’s.
    I sold them after my wife passed and my
    family now buys Buicks instead.

    Like 1
    • Brakeservo

      “Newest” car I ever bought was a low mileage ’82 Escort back in ’83 or ’84. If you’ve ever wondered what the acronym P.O.S. stands for, well, I can tell you’ve never had a Ford Escort! But Ford Corporation was basically alright – at 58,000 miles it broke a timing belt – right under the sticker that said to change at 60,000! So while the car was long out of warranty, they did fix it at no cost to me. But it was all the frequent wiring fires that concerned me, but when I had a door that refused to open anymore and I found functional parts of the latch mechanism made of PLASTIC I’d decided I’d had enough! And I’ve never owned another American made (except for my Toyotas) car again!

  5. CMARV

    That car should have been a refrigerator 30 years ago .

  6. Dave Sutton

    As the past owner of a 1.6 escort gt turbo, I would consider this for a starter

    • Brakeservo

      You say you would consider it for a starter – why, can’t you get one at your auto parts store?

  7. J Paul Member

    Even if this was the nicest Mercury Lynx on the planet, $6,000 would be ambitious (to be nice about it). But this one, with rust spots and what looks like faded paint? Nooooope.

  8. Enzo

    Albeit not everyones favourite car. But a not so common find nonetheless.

    • Brakeservo

      The fact that it’s not common doesn’t mean it’s desirable – so are many serious diseases!

  9. Rob from Texas

    I had an ’86 Escort 4dr with a manual transmission from ’93 to ’97. I bought it for about $300 from my supervisor when I lived in Michigan. It was a bit rusty and I used it as my winter beater. It was reliable and plowed through snow and ice like crazy. It became know as the “Mighty” Escort. That being said, I don’t particularly miss it and wouldn’t have another one.

  10. J Miller

    I had two of them 81,82 both no option 4spds in high school. Bought the first one for 100 wrecked it, bought the second one in pieces for $75. Definitely not a spectacular car but it did well by me. This car is a turd with the auto, and waaay over priced….. it’s a Ford not an older European econo car.

  11. Chris Kennedy

    I myself am sceptical of the milage. The underside looks toasty, and the rust that’s starting to come through looks pretty established to me.

  12. Chris

    I had a 85 lynx it was my first car it had the Mitsubishi diesel and a 5 spd in it…

  13. Coventrycat

    My first new car was an 82 Escort; looking back it wasn’t screwed together well, the red interior plastic faded to pink within 6 months and the seat vinyl blew out shortly after that. It ran well, but that’s all I can say.

    • J

      Lol

  14. Superdessucke

    If this was a Turbo RS or Escort GT I’d be on my way there. As it sits it’s just an interesting curiosity that brings back some memories. Can’t be many left like this. Most were used up two decades ago.

  15. Marvin

    I had an 86 Escort with a 1.9 L and 4 speed. I didn’t like it at the time (I was 18), but it was actually a tough little car. Except the time the timing belt broke at midnight way out in the country.

  16. Tommy D

    The Escort GT (and Lynx) blazed the way for the tuner cars we see now, it was the Focus of the ’80’s, versatile, capable, and cheap!

    • Brakeservo

      You never had one, did you? If you had, you wouldn’t have said “versatile, capable and cheap,” you would have said, “cheap, tinny and crap!” And those were the good points.

      • Tommy D

        Guilty! never owned one….

    • J

      Lol really it was the Toyota Ae86 and Honda Civic Si that holds That honor

  17. 68 custom

    these should come with a free endless supply of head gaskets and timing belts, plus a sharp discount on heads! 6k, nevermind!

  18. Steve

    I bought a couple of these back in the mid 90’s.I was looking for a cheap car that got good mileage to drive 60 miles round trip to community college and a part time job. (My 71 El Camino got a break from that.) I believe they were both 2 doors, either both 82s, or one 82 and one 81, same difference… The “nicer” of the two was white with a tan interior (GLS?) with an auto trans. Straight body with a blown engine. The other was blue/blue, 4 speed rusted out but with a “supposedly” good engine. The previous owner had undertaken an engine swap, but decided to unload it when he couldn’t get the engine to turn over after swapping the engine. I gave him $300 for both cars. Hauled the both home on a 16’ low boy trailer at one time(!) It turns out he mistakenly used the longer manual trans flywheel bolts to attach the auto flexplate to the engine. The bolts were making contact with the back of the engine. I took the opportunity to drop the auto trans out and installed a five speed trans out of a newer GT in the salvage yard. Only paid $100 for it, and although I never drove the car with the auto, I can only imagine what a difference it made. When I got it started, it had a dead miss. I ran a compression test and had a dead cylinder. I did the old trick of connecting an air hose to the compression tester hose and heard air coming out the exhaust. Pulled the head to find a bent valve. I had a valve job done and luckily was able to reuse it. (Must have had a slipped timing belt only, as I have never heard of such minimal damage from a broken belt on these cars.) Evidently the head bolts were torque to yield and not recommended to be reused. I bought new ones from Ford, reinstalled the head with a new timing belt and was on my way…for about a week when the power steering started leaking faster than you could put fluid in it. I wondered why ps was needed on a car with wheelbarrow sized tires, so I just swapped the manual rack out of the other car. I drove it for a couple of years, then came across an 86 Tempo GL 2 dr for $800. Quite an improvement. You could actually use the ac going up a hill! Sold the Escort to my brother for $700. Generally, the Escort was a POS, but it never left me stranded.

  19. Dave

    Disposable car, not worth a darn. These were notorious for blowing head gaskets. Had an 86 Escort new, biggest POS ever.

  20. AMXSTEVE

    $6.00

    Like 1
  21. jeffryedvm

    I had an 85 1/2 with the HO engine (more like HAHA) and a 4 speed that I got from my dad for around $200. It was a beast in the snow (as long as it wasn’t above the front bumper) and got almost 40mpg (if you could keep water out of the air cleaner during rainstorms). And it did a longer burnout in the high school parking lot than a 70 SS454 Chevelle. I replaced my first clutch on this car, in the dirt no less (see above burnout contest.) I agree with the timing belt issues, but head gaskets were also “scheduled maintenance”.

  22. Emmy J

    You’re unlikely to find a Lynx LTS, as the car in question was the Tracer LTS. Still a Mercury, but two generations (and a lot of Mazda underpinnings) removed from the Lynx.

    An ’83 Escort, an ’88 Tracer and an ’87 Escort GT were big parts of my formative early-driver years. Since all three were new (and the Tracer was basically a Mazda 323), our family had no problems with them. They were tanklike little cars with a dual nature–Escorts seem to either go wheels-up before 75,000 miles, or run absolutely forever. I know of a couple that were still chugging faithfully along with over 300,000 miles on their original engines and transmissions. They looked like garbage of course, but they were too dumb to die.

  23. Joe Nose

    first new car i ever bought was an ’81 escort wagon, tricked out in SS trim. Until i found out Ford tricked me into thinking it was a world beater.

    • j

      lol

  24. CCFisher

    Is that an LTD-II in the background?

  25. Clay Varga

    I had an ’84 escort with the 1.6 and a four speed. Fourth was more of an overdrive with the “gas saver” tranny. Bought it brand new, and drove it for ten years and almost 90,000 miles. Replaced the timing belt myself and never had e mechanical problem. It was scary trying to get on the NYS Thruway, but that car delivered almost 30mpg around town. I finally got rid of it because the bottom just rusted away even though it had been “rust-proofed” by the dealer. Not a Rust Belt car.

    • J

      They were throwaway from the start. Drive for 5 years or 60K miles whichever came first and dump it.

  26. Antoine Carr

    My.mom had a 1986 Mercury Lynx L .
    That thing was a thank ran like a top after my god fater tuned the carb. Got stuck in snow only once never stalled timing belt never wentthe auto trans worked like a swiss clock .I learn to drive in it god i miss my lil red roxlet 2 door hatchback 1.9L 4 cylinder 1986 Mercury Lynx L whit power brakes power steering a/c and radio am fm radio cassette and cruise and 195 /60 r 15 tires whit white whalls . Id drive another one in 30 seconds .Our Mercury Lynx L 2 door 1986 auto was a dam good car .

    • Brakeservo

      And it had a spell checker too, I’ll bet!

  27. Antoine Carr

    Picture

    My.mom had a 1986 Mercury Lynx L .
    That thing was a thank ran like a top after my god fater tuned the carb. Got stuck in snow only once never stalled timing belt never wentthe auto trans worked like a swiss clock .I learn to drive in it god i miss my lil red roxlet 2 door hatchback 1.9L 4 cylinder 1986 Mercury Lynx L whit power brakes power steering a/c and radio am fm radio cassette and cruise and 195 /60 r 15 tires whit white whalls . Id drive another one in 30 seconds .Our Mercury Lynx L 2 door 1986 auto was a dam good car .

    • J

      Good for you. The 85 1./2 Lynx Wagon we had was exact opposite.

  28. Mark-A

    My folks owned the UK version when I was learning to drive in 1990, ours was a Mk3 Ford Escort 1.6 Ghia (with the Ford Fiesta XR2 Twin Choke Webber Carb & XR3 Exhaust System which gave it a Growl & popped & bangs if you held 2nd Gear up to 4500rpm & lifted off!!) Seems like the US version with the 1.9 CVH engine was to be avoided going by the comments here but the only problem with the 1600 was valve stem oil seals which was as relatively quick job to replace. European version has the Battery placement up nearer the front screen & the Battery tray ALWAYS rusted which ended up eating the Bulkhead away along with the rear chassis legs & suspension mounts! Only reason why I know this is my Dad was a Ford Employed Bodyshop Welder doing Car-O-Liner Chassis system repairs at the time!!

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