Needs a Tune: 1987 Merkur XR4Ti

Among the class of emerging classics from the 1980s is the Euro-American import, the Merkur XR4Ti. Known for being somewhat fussy automobiles that also gave Americans a taste of what our European counterparts could find in their local Ford dealerships, this example shows reasonably well but needs some fine-tuning due to the all-too-typical engine modifications that can befall these handsome hatchbacks. Find this example here on eBay with a $4,500 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer.

The bi-plane wing over the rear hatch is a signature Merkur styling feature, along with lower-body gray cladding highlighted by a red stripe. There’s no doubt as to this car’s European influences, as it didn’t resemble anything in domestic showrooms at the time despite sharing its turbocharged 2.3L four-cylinder with the Mustang SVO and Thunderbird Super Coupe. Those cars came equipped with an intercooler; the Merkur did not. This car comes with the tasty basketweave mesh wheels still wearing their original center caps.

Inside, this is a desirable manual transmission example which came rated with far healthier horsepower numbers than similarly-equipped automatic cars. Some tweaks have been made, such as the white-faced gauges in the cluster, and the seller says the front seats have also been swapped in as the car was originally equipped with leather buckets (the rear seat is still present). The seller notes that the car does have some issues, ranging from switches that don’t work to faded paint. He also would advise the next owner have the ability or access to setting a better engine tune.

That last comment could be ominous, depending on the range of modifications we’re looking at under-hood. It could just be some colored turbo piping and corresponding plug wires, or a previous owner may have gotten bold with boost and left some ongoing issues for the next owner. The seller is including a top-mount intercooler, so there were plans afoot to further tweak the performance. The clean body and otherwise stock condition should help alleviate some of those concerns, but a best offer may be the way to go if considering this 80s hot hatch.

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Comments

  1. Kevin Wills

    This car was sold in the UK as a Ford Sierra XR4i

  2. Chuck

    Wheeler Dealers (Velocity channel) had an episode on this make and model. Everything I remembered about them came true on the show. From the wonderful handling and true to era performance to the ugliness and pia repairs.

  3. Mike Williams

    To the writer, this does not share engines with a Supercoupe ! I think you mean Turbocoupe. I love it, a poor man’s SVO.

  4. BiggYinn

    This was a FORD Sierra in europe
    …this car would look cooler with sierra cosworth front & rear black bumpers as it already has the side mouldings with skirts …. these where great cars …this body style is becoming very rare …it was first introduced in the early 80s & sold in various body styles in europe

  5. Howard A Member

    I find it odd, Merkur is German for Mercury, yet, no Merkur’s or Mercury’s were ever sold in Germany. So it was kind of an American BS story. These were nothing more than German Ford’s with a swoopy European looking body and a classy German name. I read it was the only division of FMC to be phased out. I always thought of these as a Capri on steroids, but I believe they were much nicer than the Capri. A shame, because I bet many people thought that, but bad experiences with the Capri, were the kiss of death for this car. I think it’s really a cool car. Principal Skinner drove a Merkur.

    • Miguel

      I think bad experiences with these were the kiss of death for these cars.

      I can’t remember one of these going for very long without problems.

    • CATHOUSE

      Ford also closed down the Mercury line.

      • David Reese

        And Edsel.

  6. michael

    I used to have one of these… it was called a ford sierra xr4i though. It was neat but I liked the fiesta xr2 much better… for some reason

  7. Rock On Member

    Mike I sold these cars new in the mid 80’s for a Lincoln Mercury dealership. Both these and the Mustang SVO were a hard sell back then. List price was far more than a 5.0 Mustang LX or GT. Performance was not what people were looking for then, they were used to torque and squealing tires.

  8. JGeezer

    I had one, they were well known for short turbo life. The one I got was on it’s third turbo, and that one was already making a whining noise that did not sound good. I, however, drove the *crap* out of that thing – and the whine went away. Put another 50-60K on it, no problems.

    The lesson is you can’t loaf along in a performance turbo car, all you’ll do it build up carbon deposits and the like. They need to be DRIVEN.

  9. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Jim Rome has single-handedly guaranteed that this car will NEVER be valued as a collectible.

    • Keith

      I was wondering if anyone would remember/bring that up. Kudos.

  10. Kenneth

    I ran across one of these in 1986. Went by me like I was standing still. Two miles later I passed him. I was around 17 then and had a 1963 Pontiac Safari station wagon with a high compression 389 and a high speed rear end. Speedo only went to 120 and I pegged that out. Oh that must of been a sight seeing an old Pontiac station wagon passing him and I wish I could of seen his face but I was busy trying to keep my car straight. Best car I ever owned and wish I still had it.

  11. chad

    Huh? I thought they already were…

  12. PRA4SNW Member

    Every time one of these makes an appearance here, it brings back both good and bad memories for me.

    Good – Handled great, ran fast, cheap to buy when only a few years old (6500 vs the original 25K sticker)
    Bad – Reliability was bad. Whenever I heard a high pitched whine, it meaned the tranny was about to go. I went through 4 transmissions / rebuilds in the time I had it, and I’m not hard on my cars. There were also electrical gremlins to deal with.

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