$500 Turbo Hatch: 1985 Ford Merkur XR4ti

$500 is the basic cost of entry to project car ownership of almost every kind, so you really just have to pick your poison if you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket. This 1985 Merkur XR4ti is one such project car that comes with the preferred combination of the 2.3L turbocharged engine and five-speed manual transmission. Find it here on craigslist in non-op status with the pink slip in the glovebox.

The seller is correct in stating he could part it out for far more than $500, likely at least doubling his money if he felt like stripping it down and shipping parts around the country. Not many folks feel like doing that, however, and there’s enough to work with here that someone may grab it as a $500 builder or a parts rig for a more compelling project. Given it’s in California, rust is hopefully a non-issue.

The old-school California license plates give some indication as to how long it’s been off the road. The interior presents as largely complete, right down to the rare Fisher cassette box still being in the dash. Speaking of the dash, it’s been ravaged by the sun, as you might expect, but the rest of the listing photos show an interior in largely good shape with clean-looking gray leather bucket seats.

The turbocharged four-cylinder is the engine of choice in any number of 1980s Ford products designed to go head-to-head with the import crowd. This particular engine bay looks reasonably complete despite the fact that the car has clearly been parked for some time. The seller doesn’t elaborate as to how long it’s been sitting, but hey – for $500, you can’t ask too many questions, can you?


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  1. Jack M.

    This thing will suck your wallet dry faster than the best Dyson vacuum. Do yourself a favour and save up until you can afford a running and driving sample. No value here.

    Like 11
    • SaabVertGuy

      You are most correct about the potential cost on this one. There is value though. But only as a disassembled parts car. Not worth shipping any great distance but a fairly local person with a project Merkur could definitely utilize it as it appears many of the harder to finds bits are intact here. Shame, these were fun and a breath of fresh air when new but never truly appreciated over here.

      Like 3
  2. John Wilburn

    There are few cars I would enjoy working on less than this.

    Like 2
  3. Superdessucke

    Ugh. Ugh! Uggggh!

    Like 1
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    “Run Forest!…….Run!”

    Like 3
  5. JRH

    If it was closer to me. Worth a gamble just for the motor/trans.

    Like 1
  6. misterlou Member

    Disturbing hairy knee in pic #23.

    I’m 90 minutes away too. Hmmmm…..

    Like 3
    • Superdessucke

      How can you resist! And does anybody have an explanation as to how the shift knob turned orange?!

      • CanuckCarGuy

        Cheetos addiction?

        Like 1
      • Mark-A

        I ‘wooden’ have any idea as to why.

    • sir mike

      Lou…Just get her for the five speed…you have something it will go in.

  7. Anton

    I’d put that 2.3/5speed into a Pinto Cruising Wagon

    Like 1
  8. Dave Mazz

    I’d give the seller a thumbs-up for pointing out that this vehicle is best considered a parts car, and he has provided more photos showing the car’s condition than some sellers who are asking $50,000 or more for their vehicles. Plus, $500 is probably a fair price, provided there are any folks out there who are restoring, or planning to restore a Merkur.

    Like 2
  9. Bodyman68

    Best comments yet , run forrest run !
    I second the idea of yanking the drivetrain out and putting it in a pinto !
    These cars were and still are ugly , but id still pay the $500 just for drivetrain.

    Like 2
    • Poppapork

      I dont know why everybody is sweating over the brazilian cast iron non intercooled anchor of an engine amd 5-speed like its some sort of jackpot. Its a.german build car (and the author writes about fighting imports wtf!) I would turn it into some sort of cheap rally car!

      Like 1
  10. GeneB Member

    Buddy of mine had that running gear in a T-bird of the same vintage, and I blew his doors so bad with my 1971 Volvo 142E that when ever I mention it he leaves the room. But that car was fairly attractive. This has been hit HARD by the ugly stick…Take the $500 and have a night on the town, you will thank yourself.

    Like 1
  11. g Wentzell

    Geesh, at least hose off the poor thing. I looked at one of these at a Ford dealership when the car was one year old. I got in and it wouldn’t start. Close call. Someone was watching over me.

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