Project Potential: 1988 Merkur XR4Ti

This seems like a potentially good buy for the Merkur fan: a nicely optioned XR4Ti for just $850. Sure, it needs a lot of work and appears to have been used for parts pillaging, but the drivetrain and interior is still there along with a mostly rust-free body. These cars look awesome with the Cosworth body kit and for the price of entry, you could justify getting a little crazy. Find the cheap 5-speed XR4Ti here on eBay with the option to submit a best offer.

There are a few things that make this XR4Ti appealing, including the optional BBS-style mesh wheels, rear spoiler and 5-speed manual transmission. The rust is contained to the floors, and while replacement panels may be difficult to source, it is at least one of the more straight-forward areas to repair. The seller notes this is equipped with the optional (and desirable) turbocharged 2.3L motor, which is the same one found in the Thunderbird Super Coupes and Mustang SVO. I know not everyone agrees, but this Merkur is crying out for the Cosworth’s biplane wing!

The lack of information about the health of the engine is disconcerting, to be honest. While it’s good to know it ran when parked, some level of assurance that it still turns over or will fire up with a new battery would be appreciated. It just seems suspect to say it ran eight months ago and not elaborate as to whether it would fire up with fresh gas and juice today. The painted valve cover gives me some pause, as it may indicate the motor was on the receiving end of some cheap hop-up parts in the past. The previous owner did replace the radiator and a new exhaust is included in the sale.

The manual transmission really is the big story here, as many of these cars (strangely) pop up with the automatic. The low cost of entry, along with the option to make a best offer, makes this turbocharged XR4Ti an intriguing buy. I would absolutely use the lack of headlights as an excuse to upgrade to the European-style front end with H4 headlights and the full Cosworth body kit, especially since the tired paint would demand a repaint anyway. How would you restore it?

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Comments

  1. CanuckCarGuy

    As I recall, the 2.3 turbo was the only engine available in the XR4Ti…the Scorpio (4 door hatchback) carried the 2.9 V6. Like the SVO Mustang, their price tags were a deal killer.

  2. John T

    In Europe this was a Ford Sierra. Back in the 1980’s there were many thousands of them on the road. I am sure many of them ended up going through the crusher during the European government scrappage scheme, but I also think that there are still plenty of them around to get all the parts you need except for the engine. The 2.3 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is strictly American Ford as correctly identified by the author. You can get all the engine parts you need from various sources right here in the USA.

  3. darrun

    I just saw a crossmember on Ebay, for installing a 302 in one of these. A 5.0 form a Fox body mustang along with a 5 speed would sure make this thing fun to drive.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Merkur-XR4ti-Scorpio-Ford-302-V8-Engine-Mounts/162146192224?hash=item25c0aa8b60:g:458AAOSwVFlUG3ms&vxp=mtr

    • Mark-A

      Ford South Africa made a XR6 V6 Essex engined version & also a XR8 5 door with the 302 V8 look them up! Or how about the modified versions from Graeme Goode Racing or Brodie Britain Racing (still going but seems to be a Mazda MX-5 (Miata) tuner now

  4. Oingo

    it was and still is a parts car.

  5. Larry B.

    The wheels and spoiler were changed for 1988. Earlier cars had the biplane spoiler.

  6. The Walrus

    Although certainly no Merkur expert, a friend of my dad’s growing up had several. Maybe he was particular, but I don’t recall ever hearing of these being available with anything other than a 2.3l Turbo with a 5-speed in the US. I actually recall hearing the fact that they only came with a 5 speed here hurt sales. But then, I could be mis-remembering. I do remember driving one and thinking that it was morbidly slow and that there was little difference in the transmission ratios between 3, 4 and 5. Particularly compared to the ’88 Daytona Shelby Z I had at the time.

  7. Daymo

    This car was known in Europe as the Ford Sierra XR4i and came with a 2.8 litre fuel injected engine. They still have a huge following over here and prices, even for basket-cases, are very high. And that huge rear spoiler…

  8. David Miraglia

    Always found them to interesting in their design.

  9. Chod B

    My wife and I had an 86 Xr4ti, two tone blue and gray, leather, automatic, bi-plane wing, turbo, great fun car. Semi-fast with good top end, for the time. Then we had kids, two door sport coupes and car seats didn’t mix. Traded it for a taurus station wagon. Miss the Merkur.

  10. Anton

    I’d buy it just to drop that turbo four and 5-speed into a Pinto Cruising Wagon!

  11. SCOOT

    In Europe you got the V6 Cologne-Köln as said above. Not a tire burner.
    Less often seen than the Sierra Coupe (which had the inline 4 with K-jet then multi-port injection).

    Le XR4 is nicer looking.

  12. Steve Park

    I’ve owned Merkurs since 1986. Good cars for the most part. You could get an auto trans, but the HP dropped to 145. The Merkur club is quite active & enthusiastic.

  13. AF

    Nothing to see here. Either let rot or crush. Maybe cover in one of those blue tarps until the tarp falls apart.

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