Parked For 20 Years: 1987 Merkur XR4Ti

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The seller of this 1987 Merkur XR4Ti says that it has had just one owner since new and it’s been parked for the last 15-20 years. As we all know just from sitting around too much over the last three years, sitting for too long can be a bad thing for humans and vehicles. The seller has this one posted here on craigslist in Midlothian, Virginia and they’re asking $2,500. Here is the original listing, and thanks to Pat L. for sending in this tip!

If this car has been parked for the maximum number of years that the seller mentions (15 to 20), that’s only 2003, which is mind-blowing for those of us in our 40s/50s/60s/above. “20 years ago” still seems like it’s referring to the 1980s to me. So, if this car is a 1987 and it was driven until 2003, that’s.. uhhh.. um.. 16 years of use. The seller lists the mileage as 51,000 and the odometer shows 50,634, so that’s only 3,165 miles a year for those 16 years. They say that it’s been parked inside for the last 13 years, which is better than being outside the whole time.

The Merkur hatchback partnered with the four-door Scorpio as another shot at adding a European car to Ford’s lineup. The Merkur was offered here between late-1984 for the 1985 model year, until the 1989 model year. It’s really a unique design all the way around, at least as far as the exterior goes, with the “bi-wing” rear spoiler and unusual side window treatment. It’s also distinctive in being a rear-wheel-drive car in an era when most companies were jumping on front-drive.

The interior isn’t that far off from what North American buyers were experiencing, maybe not from Ford/Mercury, but from other European and Japanese vehicles at the time. The leather seats could use some cleaning and the interior, in general, needs some work, as you can see from the small photos that are somewhat pixelated when enlarged to fit here – my apologies for that.

The back seat looks good and the rear hatch needs struts, which is a normal thing after this many decades. A three-speed automatic would have been an option, but you want this Ford T-9 five-speed manual, which for you trivia buffs, was Ford’s first five-speed manual for rear-drive cars. The fifth gear was an added overdrive and it sat in the rear of the shaft housing and worked great – up to around 200 lb-ft of torque, give or take, which this car happens to have. If you plan to add some more oomph to this car, you’ll need a Borg-Warner T-5 or similar manual.

The engine bay is showing some surface rust and the engine is Ford’s 2.3-liter OHC turbocharged inline-four, which would have been factory-rated at 175 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque when new. It’s not in running condition but hopefully, this unusual and rare-to-see-today car can be on the road again in the future. Have any of you owned a Merkur or even seen one in person?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. BimmerDudeMember

    I had a 1985, one of the first batch shipped in to the USA, sold through Mercury dealers who had no idea what they were. Fortunately they also sold a very complete service manual since most dealers only had one tech trained on the car.

    Ford got a lot things right when they modified the Sierra for US consumption, but many things were only close: leather seating stitching split, a/c needed parts, valve stem seals replaced 3 times in warranty, and some bigger issues too.

    The base trans was the 4 speed built in France for the Capri and often did not survive the warranty period. Mine would pop out of gear in fourth or fifth on lift-off, very disconcerting. I band-aided it with a bungie cord when a rebuild did not help, then got one of the first T-5 kits with new bell housing from Russ Harness at Rapido Motors. Success. Rapido also had a Ford Motorsports turbo rebuild kit after the dealer offered a shrug and a new $1100 turbo.

    I clamped a branch from my lemon tree in the sunroof when I drove it in to the dealer for service. I think they were actually amused. Maybe.

    It was a classic love/hate relationship, and I sold to a guy who told me he didn’t know how to drive a stick!

    Like 8
  2. angliagt angliagtMember

    I love these,but this one looks like a huge money pit to me.

    Like 6
  3. Troy

    These were fun cars for what they were at that time. This ones best days are behind it probably better served as a parts car

    Like 4
  4. Neil M

    I owned 2 of these cars: an 86 and an 87. They were light, nimble and very fast for their day. All that being said, they were also very fragile. If you did not raise the hood once every 24 hours, the XR4ti would die of neglect. In the summer the turbo could cook the battery. But it was also like wearing a jet pack. At 3500 RPM- the turbo kicked in, and the car would go ballistic. At 80 the whale tail pulled the back end down to the pavement- and before you realized it, you were flirting with 130. On sharp turns, if you gave it too much throttle, that light rear end would slip out from under you- and would be playing tag with trees. If I could stand the heartache, this car would be in my garage within a week.

    Like 9
  5. Derek

    The bodyshell was a homologation special for European touring car racing; 2-door, but with an extra brace compared to the shell that the Cosworth used. It was the XR4i here. Never had or driven one, but have spent plenty of time in mundane Sierras. Capable but a bit rubbery.

    Like 0
  6. Fran

    Great cars. Wish I could still buy a new one!

    Like 4
  7. bkay

    Great cars. I wish I would have kept my slightly modified 1988 with Borla exhaust, Koni’s all the way around and 89 Thunderbird Turbo coupe computer, VAM and injectors. For its day it was wickedly fast but squirrely to drive when under boost. Fixing that front fender on this one will be a pain as they are welded on. Tempting to say the least ! GLWTS.

    Like 3
  8. TheGasHole

    Whenever I see one of these listed for sale I always think of the now infamous Jim Rome story about his. If you don’t know it it’s definitely worth a Google search!

    Like 2
  9. Jeff Lewis

    Smitten with these cars since being a young man, I bought a ear flawless low mileage ‘89 a few years ago. Great little car, so we’ll balanced. …miss it.

    Like 2
  10. Thomas H Piercy

    This one is identical to my 87′ except my seats were cloth. Bypassed the waste gate so the turbo would come in by 2000 rpms. I ran it flawlessly, although I was always easy on the 5 speed and had no problems. The suspension was so great, an actual soft ride until you threw it into a turn and it stiffened up after only a small amount of dip. I sold it (I was an LM Dealer) at 30,000 miles, traded it back at 130,000 and it still drove and acted the same. I owned this car personally and wish I still did. If you ever bypass the wastegate, make sure you have the highest octane gas you can find or you will hear the mother of all pre-ignition. None if the gas is good.

    Like 0
  11. William

    I had 2 of these, both were big money pits. Even the repairs you made rarely lasted a few years. Transmission was very weak, shifter vibrated and the automatic was worse in these cars, they blew up quickly, gas gauge, temp guage had a mind of their own and wouldn’t read right. AC was very hard to keep going, idiot light would come on whenever they wanted, driveshaft Guibo would dry out and crack every few years, antenna wires ran to the hatch would break, heated drivers seat pad wires would break, ate batteries every couple of years due to high heat under the hood and small constant drains on them. Front rotors warped easy, had to be carefull not to over tighten them. Rust under the plastic clading in the pinch welds area was a know issue, poor paint. When running right the seats were very comfortable, car handled well, back seat had decent room. The 2.3 liter as long as you didn’t over heat it is a good engine. At $2500.00 it is way overpriced

    Like 1
    • PRA4SNW

      William, my experience with a 2 year old ’85 was almost identical to yours.

      Great fun when it wasn’t experiencing some expensive breakdown. The weakest ting on mine was the manual trans. Rebuilt the original one, then pulled that one when it dies again, replacing it with a rebuilt unit that needed to be rebuilt again. And I’m not tough on my cars.

      Like 0
  12. Scotty GilbertsonAuthor

    Which one of you grabbed it? The seller has deleted the listing.

    Like 0
  13. Michael Schwartz

    Funnest car I have ever owned!!! I had a 1987 xr4ti. Owned it for 5 years, it was an ford C3 automatic. Incredible road car, Took it everywhere, Las Vegas, San Felepe BC. with my foot to the floor!!! I figured about 120mph? I ran the crap out of the thing!! Never any problems. Only the stupid idiot lights were always flashing. But it Mechanically was great!! I was managing a off road racing team at the time. It was a nice little Put put!!!! The European Version Ford Sierra is still the most winning touring racing car in history!!

    Like 1
  14. Lysser

    I had a 1988 XR4TI, my favorite car today. Loaned to my niece in high school she smoked a lot guys off stop signs!

    Like 0
  15. Terry Alonzo

    I had an 1985 Merkur with auto trans. Most fun car I ever owned. It would turn a 90* turn at 55mph any time you wanted and would reach 140 + mph. I worked for Ford Motor Company and always raced big block fords until a dealer friend had me take this car out for a test and told me drive as fast as i thought i could push the car. At the time I had been racing Enduro karts so I did. Bought it that day. I had an engineer friend that drove his Merkur 208 mph at Bonneville.

    Like 0

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