BF Exclusive: 1987 Merkur XR4Ti

Asking: $7,000Make Offer

  • Seller: Luis N ava
  • Location: Sun Valley, California
  • Mileage: 80,256 Shown
  • Chassis #: WF1BT80W9HM672218
  • Title Status: Clean
  • Engine: 2.3-Turbo OHC 4-Cylinder Lima
  • Transmission: Automatic

We’ve seen a few Merkur XR4Tis here on Barn Finds, and they’re always interesting cars from an interesting era. Ford’s European division offered the Ford Sierra, which had to be modified to meet U.S. safety regulations. None other than Bob Lutz was a driving force behind these cars, and they were sporty drivers meant to compete with the 3-Series BMW and other similar cars. This 1987 Merkur XR4Ti is listed here as a Barn Finds Exclusive! 

I miss the 1980s, but then again, I don’t miss the 1980s. Some products made during that weird decade were great. I mean, who didn’t like Trivial Pursuit, Atari and Colecovision video games, and a typewriter that you plug in? Nice. Ok, the electric typewriter was invented in 1872 and hit the mainstream in 1920, but a lot of us finally got one in the 1980s, back when some of us got our first cell phones. I got mine in February of 1987, a Radio Shack CT-300 brick phone (no bag). Then there were the 1980s vehicles like this Merkur.

The Merkur XR4Ti was made in 1984 for the 1985 model year until the end of the 1989 model year. Do you see the cat in the photo above trying to get out of the hot Sun Valley, California sun by lying under this car? Is it a European thing to refer to a two-door hatchback as a three-door hatchback? The Merkur XR4Ti was only available as a two-door hatchback, or was that a three-door hatchback?

The exterior of this car looks perfect to me and the seller refers to its overall condition as an 8 out of 10, maybe because of the seam separations seen on the leather seating surfaces. We don’t see what’s under the dash cover but hopefully it’s protecting a perfect dash rather than covering up a cracked one. You’ve already noticed the automatic transmission in this one but the seller is including a T5 WC (World Class, as opposed to non-World Class) manual with the sale.

The XR4Ti’s engine is a Ford 2.3-liter OHC inline-four with fuel injection and a turbo. It kicks out 145 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque and sends that power through the automatic to the rear wheels. It has all new belts, including the timing belt, cooling hoses, fuel filter and pumps, new tires, all four shocks, the transmission seals, a new rear main seal, and the list goes on and on.

The seller says that it starts and runs but randomly stalls after driving it for a couple of miles, and they don’t have time to figure it out, which is why it’s listed here as a Barn Finds Exclusive. It’s getting hard to find clean XR4Tis, and while this one has some flaws to address, it looks like a great find that will be fun to have. So, if you’d enjoy owning this Merkur, be sure to make the seller an offer!

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Comments

  1. StevieG

    I believe that the 2.3 turbo engine in that, Is the same as they used in the Thunderbird turbo coupe and Mustang. 190hp/240 torque.

    Pretty stout motor, both in build and output.
    I’ve driven a couple of the turbo coupe five speeds, I found them to be pretty lively and well balanced.

    If the next owner needs to source engine parts it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
    The parts that are from Europe might be an issue.
    I’m thinking the dash pad might be cracked. Would want that cover removed for a pic before I would consider purchasing. That part alone is 400.00

    Like 3
    • SubGothius

      Basically the same engine, but lacking the intercooler that the SVO and T-bird turbos had, so these only made 155 hp (or 145 hp for the automatics) vs. 175 hp for the early SVO, 205 hp for the late SVO, and 190 hp for the T-bird.

      Like 3
      • xafalcongs

        I’ve owned and raced a 1985 back in the early 1990’s. The manual transmission cars had 175hp/210lbs-ft and ran a Ford UK Type 9 5-speed manual. The motor is similar in build to the Mustang SVO of that time, not the T-bird/Cougar XR7 turbo 2.3. It didn’t have an intercooler but the injectors, intake manifold, MAF, TB, and ECU were different than the manual trans T-bird/XR7. These cars also ran 14psi of boost compared to the 8-10psi of the Turbo Coupe/XR7. The automatic turbo 2.3s were pretty much the same engine and tune (145hp) with a C3 3-speed automatic.

        Like 0
      • SubGothius

        It doesn’t seem to make much sense that the Merkur (non-intercooled) and early SVO (intercooled) engines would both make the exact same 175 hp, but I did find an ’86 Merkur brochure stating 175 hp, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        FWIW, my figures came from the Wiki article about the Pinto Lima engine in the 2.3L (LL23) section:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto_engine#2.3_(LL23)

        Like 0
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

        xafalcongs, that’s the spec I remember too: 175HP for the manual and 145HP for the auto. That’s one of the reasons why I thought the auto felt like a dog in comparison.

        Like 0
  2. 2002tii

    I had a 1989 XR4Ti when I worked for Ford in CA. It was a fun, practical, sporty car, especially when the turbo kicked in! I was the only one in our Ford office who could pronounce “Merkur” correctly!

    Like 3
  3. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    Being a former owner of an X-RAT-I, I can’t see how this car is worth even half of the asking price. Too many potential issues, on top of the existing running issue, and the very limited availability of body parts makes this a risky proposition.

    Mine was a manual, and I test drove an auto – it seemed like a dog to me.

    In any case, good luck with the sale. Glad to see more sellers opting to go with BF.

    Like 3
    • xafalcongs

      Yeah, agreed. $7K is California inflated pricing. Same car in Texas or Florida would be $3000. Played around with these cars for about a decade and I still find them with title, no rust, non-running and owners willing to pay you to haul them away.

      Like 1
  4. Daymo

    Although the XR4i prices are on the way up (here in the UK) they aren’t reaching the prices of their successors, the Cosworth models with the 2.9 engine and four wheel drive.
    A lot of these (both kinds) were stolen and/or crashed and finding a good one is getting harder and harder to find, reflecting the price increases and those that already have them, rarely put them up for sale.

    Like 2
  5. MKG

    A friend told me that in Europe, these had a better engine/transmission choice. They ruined it when they put in US spec mechanicals.

    Like 4
    • xafalcongs

      Not really, these had everything from a 1.6 I4 to a 2.9 Cologne V6. The Turbo 2.3 manual cars were faster than any of the Euro car with regular production engines…..HOWEVER, Ford worked with Cosworth to develop the 2.0L DOHC turbo motor that went into the limited production Cosworth RS and RS500. These cars were monsters and dominated touring car racing across Europe and Asia. A good, solid Cossie is worth a small fortune now days. BTW, before the Cosworth Sierra RS was brought market, Ford used the Merkur XR4Ti in the UK and DE touring car racing series.

      Like 3
      • Daymo

        The Touring Cars were the Euro XR4i’s, not the US XR4TI’s

        Like 0
  6. RalphP

    Never was a fan of these overpriced hatchbacks. That feeling hasn’t changed with the passage of time. Pass.

    Like 2
  7. BimmerDudeMember

    I bought my Merkur off the sales floor in 1985. The sales guy’s knowledge was limited to reading spec’s from his little sales book. My choices at the time were a eta series BMW or a turbo Saab, but I have a leaning toward unusual rides.
    The automatic was backed off from the 175hp, I think to 140 but finding parts resources was an issue until I found Russia Harness at Rapido motors. Ford did fix the split stitching on the leather interior, actually reupholstered the back seat. They also replaced all the a/c components as they crashed sequentially.However they would not cover my turbo when it coked up, despite it being water-cooled and getting synthetic oil. Russia sold me a turbo rebuild kit that mysteriously said “Ford Motorsport.” Having that shop manual will be very useful to the new owner. I passed mine on the new owner.
    The 5 speed trans was a POS, a parts bin component that was originally built for the Capri but Russ came through again, shipped me a T5 and a new bell housing: strongly recommended. The car felt good, great seat and the back hatch would swallow a small pickup bed’s worth.
    One evening, headed home on I280 south of SanFran, a couple of kids in an SVO tried to harass me but they gave up as my indicated speed hit ~125…theoretically, of course. The double back wings kept the stability on track. GLWS, we drove a Hertz Sierra all over Europe a couple of years earlier.

    Like 4
  8. Roy MarsonMember

    I have owned a couple of XR4TI’s thru my car rental co. I am totally a fan of these cars. The 2.3 engine is basically a Ford Pinto engine, cast iron. I owned a dozen of Pinto’s. Everybody hated them but I loved them as they had low maintenance. They were replaced with the Ford Excort, basically a piece. All blew head gaskets.. The 2300, never.

    So Ford , smartly added a turbo to an already proven engine. It made it fly!!. I still have one out back and am considering pulling the engine and replace my Mom and Dad’s 72 Mercedes 250, a gutless wonder.

    These cars, despite the negative comments are real cars and worth more then the current market.

    Like 3
  9. xafalcongs

    Daymo,

    There may have been some 2.8 V6 XR4i racing but, Andy Rouse drove a 2.3L turbo Merkur XR4Ti in the British Saloon Car Championship. He won the overall title in 1985 and the class title in 1986 with something like 14+ wins.

    Eggenberger Motorsport ran a XR4Ti in the 1986 European Touring Car Championship and the German Touring Car Championship.

    Ford used technical feedback from all the XR4Ti teams to develop chassis stiffen panels for the Cossie Sierra chassis. These parts were branded 909 Motorsport parts and used on the Cossie cars.

    Like 1
  10. Norman Stevenson

    Sure was one of the ugliest cars to make it out of a Ford dealership! Good job the abominations corroded fast and the motors had a habit of self destructing! As for the interiors, well they were dated when they left the showroom floor! I’m a Ford enthusiast,but this thing was a horror!

    Like 0
  11. steve dore

    these were junk and it sounds like this one still is

    Like 0
  12. Gtoforever

    Had one with a sun roof, manual and I thought it had a 2.9 , but my memory ran out in the early 2000’s!
    It was a cool little car , especially when the turbo kicked in . At that time, I had a Ford Grabber(dressed up maverick) . It sure gave the grabber a hard time when I raced my girlfriend. Too much $ I think

    Like 0

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