The Question is Why? 1987 Mercury Topaz Six Door

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Every day we are amazed by some strange happening in the news or we are stunned by a discovery that makes no sense.  It is all so tiresome.  Evidently the automotive world is not immune to bizarre discoveries.  I have for you today the strangest car I have ever written about on Barn Finds.  Brace yourself and take a look at this 1987 Mercury Topaz six door conversion for sale on Kijiji in Kitchener, Ontario.  This six-door, four-cylinder, stick shift oddity comes with a raised top and is actually well constructed.  I just can’t wrap my head around why it was built.  Just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.  Yet here it is.  Thanks go to Gord L. for this strange find.

My great aunt had a Ford Tempo, of which the Mercury Topaz is a badge-engineered copy.  We took her to her home in North Georgia every spring and brought her back to her winter abode in the late fall.  That gave my grandfather and I plenty of time behind the wheel of Ford’s latest small car.  It wasn’t a bad car.  It got good mileage, and it rode OK at interstate speeds.  The problem was it wasn’t particularly gutsy.  While the limited power output was sufficient for my eighty plus year old great aunt, I think if it were filled up with the five passengers advertised in the brochure, hills would have been a serious obstacle.

Which brings us to this 1987 Mercury Topaz converted from what we assume to be a regular Topaz by someone with obvious fabrication skills.  The ad tells us that the stretch occurred in 1999, and it has been driven around since to promote the seller’s business.  Being that the car is in the Great White North, we are assured that it is only summer driven.  To keep it on the road, it has been the recent recipient of new brakes, a new battery, and new belts.  The reason for the sale is that the seller is no longer in business and needs to part with it.

I wish that the seller would have disclosed just what kind of business it was that required a stretched economy car.  Sometimes cars are stretched to be used as an airport shuttle or limousine.  Given the lack of space in a Topaz’s trunk, I think the former is unlikely.  As for a limousine, I cannot imagine who might pay for the services of a decades old stretched compact Mercury.  Perhaps a frugal high school student on the way to prom via the McDonalds drive thru.  Perhaps it was a clown car for clowns that lacked self-respect.  I just don’t know.

Regardless of its use, you have to admire how it was put together.  The rear compartment was made up of two Topaz seats in matching upholstery.  Even the rearward facing seat is equipped with seat belts to be on the safe side.  The center doors are cleverly adapted from a set of front doors but have Lexan windows due to the impossibility of creating a curved door glass with a lean budget.  Using these front doors also limited the length of the stretch, thus compromising leg room between the rear seats.  The rest of the doors boast power windows and power door locks.

In the picture above we can see the very well finished raised passenger roof.  While we are not sure if this cap was made from scratch or adapted from some other vehicle, it is admittedly blended into the overall design quite skillfully.  It also boasts a sunroof, but not of the power type that we see on Lincolns of similar vintage.  As for the prom idea, the narrow construction of the rear seat would pretty much make being somewhat intimate an inevitability.  Tempos and Topazes are a bit narrow.

Under the hood is a 2.3 liter inline four-cylinder engine.  It is backed by something you don’t often see in a stretched vehicle: a five-speed manual transmission.  The listing says that it has 186,000 kilometers on the odometer.  While I am not sure what that means in American, it does sound like the car has travelled a lot of miles on its distinctive seven spoke aluminum wheels.  The ad says they are chrome.  Perhaps road dust has taken away their shine.  Another important option here is the “ooga horn.”  Using my faint memory of J.C. Whitney catalogs, I believe this is one of those horns that electronically imitates a Model A Ford horn.  Some of the fancier ones made wolf whistle sounds, but we haven’t been told if the owner purchased the upgraded model.

Minus a few wavy spots, this stretched Topaz is actually a pretty impressive, yet nonsensical, machine.  Whoever built it obviously has talent.  Yet, we still come down to the one question: why?

Do any of you have a guess as to why this car was built?  Was it boredom?  Was it to show off fabrication skills?  Please tell us your guess and why you think it is correct in the comments.

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  1. Big_FunMember

    This is what the nerdy kids took to prom…

    Like 12
  2. Tom71MustangsMember

    Nope- the nerds were too cool for this thing.

    Like 12
    • Big_FunMember

      The guys on the Big Bang Theory?
      Or Milhouse, Comic Book Guy and Carl Carlson on the way to Springfield’s Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con?

      Like 10
  3. Big_FunMember

    Actually, I can see this being in Mexico, not Canada. Before Covid, we travelled South, and the shuttle to the hotel from the airport was a Sprinter passenger van with a manual transmission, all while being offered cold hand towels and colder Cerveza.
    A group of four or five, maybe six, and modest luggage, and this is the perfecto airport shuttle for the times…cheap to operate, cheap(er) to book. Just add the placard above (screenshot from the movie Airplane)

    Like 6
    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      Funny you should say that. Not long ago I posted a 1993 Topaz limo on my Instagram page. It was for sale in the southern part of the country for less that 1K US. It was also white.

      At least this one is a stick shift so you can get that 2 extra horsepower to get it moving.

      Like 2
  4. angliagt angliagtMember

    A vehicle I’ve never seen before.Hopefully 1 of 1.
    Is 0-60 possible in this?

    Like 9
    • bw

      I highly doubt this thing could hit 60. My first company car was an ’88 Tempo. It was the most gutless wonder I’d ever driven. Couldn’t get out of its own way. You could literally outrun it downhill…

      Like 3
      • John H.

        I’m guessing Jeremy Renner now wishes he had an 88 Tempo for a snow plow instead of that Snowcat.

        Like 1
    • Troy

      Yes down hill in a hurricane

      Like 1

    I’m thinking a shoe in for a Radwood trophy.

    Like 3
  6. 370zpp 370zppMember

    Consider the timing of the build.
    The owner’s business was probably related to potential services needed as the result of the anticipated chaos of Y2K.

    Like 6
  7. BA

    Kitchener is home to a Budd Plastics plant I know this because I was sent there to help with a spoiler bonding setup. Does this explain a odd car like this ? Maybe we did a lot of business with Ford . I don’t remember Kitchener being home to much else so it’s a possibility a VIP car lol

    Like 2
    • bill tebbutt


      Kitchener is my home town, and only just over an hour west of where I’ve lived since the late 80s. Googling the area code in the advert gives the location of this “unique” car. Its a long ways from the Budd plant (which is now long gone, but it was for decades one of the largest frame stamping plants in North America: many of the kids I grew up with had dad’s who worked there as skilled trades – its was a great place to work, was my understanding. Now its a real estate development….

      Kitchener-Waterloo (the Twin Cities) benefitted from a long-running MASSIVE influx of skilled trades from Europe – Canada encouraged immigration for many decades as a way to industrialize the country. Fun fact – until 1916, Kitchener had been named New Berlin as it had a very large German influence, and that continued to build through and well after WW2. It was a city full of tool and die guys, machinists, welders, fabricators, and it used this economic force to become the fastest growing city in the country through the 1960s and 170s when I was a kid there.

      And hey, if you want to go to the largest Octoberfest celebration in North America, you gotta go to KW!

      There is an interesting tie between Budd Canada, and Richard Nixon. Hugh Sloan, formerly treasurer of Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President, quit politics in 1972 as the Watergate scandal began to leak out and joined Budd where he later became CEO (he was not found guilty of any charges btw, and I am not certain he was even charged. But he was there at the time).

      Having said all of that, I am not the least bit surprised to see this build in KW. There is still an awful lot of fabrication talent there, to build “…whatever you want”.


      Like 17
      • Paolo

        Learned something. KW is on my Octoberfest radar.

        Like 3
      • ACB

        That’s right, Hugh Sloan was never implicated in anything associated with the Watergate affair. There was however a story in the Washington Post as early as October 25, 1972 that Sloan had given testimony to the grand jury that HR Haldeman (Nixon’s chief of staff) had approved payment from the funds of the CREEP (Committee to Re-elect the President which the White House preferred to style as CRP) for campaign sabotage. Slone had never give such testimony but the story was a harbinger. Sloan emerged from the Watergate affair with his reputation for honesty enhanced.

        Like 1
  8. Sam61

    Why, “family” hearse at the discount funeral home.

    Like 4
    • Sam61

      Sorry, meant to say family limo. I saw a recent Scion xB limo post on Instagram that was very well done

      Like 2
  9. Chris

    Just NO !!!!

    Like 3
  10. Tony Primo

    The Kitchener / Waterloo Region is home to two universities and one college in close proximity. The student population exceeds 40,000. I see this car being used by the kids as a pub crawl vehicle.

    Like 0
  11. Tony Primo

    Kitchener-Waterloo is home to two universities and one college in close proximity. It has a student population in excess of 40,000. I have a feeling that this car was used to shuttle students between the numerous bars and clubs.

    Like 7
  12. mike

    You have to admit it is different.

    Like 4
  13. Paolo

    Ranks with Jumbo shrimp and Worlds Tallest Midget, it’s The World’s Shortest Stretch Limousine.

    Like 5
  14. Bobdog

    Would make a great car for octomom.

    Like 3
  15. T. Mann

    186000 = 115575 miles

    Like 3
  16. Pete

    186000 kilometers is 115575 miles for those who don’t know

    Like 2
  17. Joe S.

    Ruh Roh. No images this morning.

    Haswell iMac/Macbook Pro-Safari-Catalina

    Images are fine on iOS.

    Like 0
    • Jesse Jesse MortensenStaff

      @Joe S. – Try updating your browser.

      Like 0
  18. Craiger

    Q-U-I-C-K ! Please pass the Pepto “Bismal” I think I’m going to HURL… OOPS! Nevrmind, too late. YUCK!

    Like 1
  19. wes johnsonMember

    But the other questions not answered, how much for a compact stretch?? Would it even be legal to import to states? Inquiring minds want to know. Could be a great trivia topic.

    Like 0
  20. Bruce

    Awh, the cherished pride in knowing that you have the only “one” of something!

    Like 2
  21. Patrick Melvin Anderson

    186,000 x .625=116,250.

    Like 1
  22. BrianT BrianTMember

    All it needs is a turbo. Seems perfectly logical to me except I’m wondering why anyone would stretch a 1987 car in 1999?

    Like 1
  23. Naptown Mark

    A twenty five year old stretch job on a thirty five year old car, and it still generated a write up and conversation.

    If the builder/owner was seeking to draw attention, it looks like the effort was/is successful. Pretty much answers the ‘why’ question right there.

    Like 1
    • 370zpp 370zppMember

      Naptown, I think you are on to something. He did the build in 1999 seeking to draw attention on BarnFinds a mere 24 years later.
      Clearly a true visionary.

      Like 3
  24. Gransedan

    Quite the oddity. Adding to its distinction is its front end from that of an ’84 or ’85 Topaz. A restyled front with flush headlamp lenses and different grill was in place for ’86 and up.

    Like 0
  25. Cattoo CattooMember

    My friends uncle had a small Ford/Mercury limo with sunroof and sliding glass partition. Tiny fridge and glass holders. Topaz or sable. Don’t recall it being a Taurus sized car though. My daughters friends seventh birthday the car was used to drive the little group around to various activities. Funny little car to drive around in. Sunroof leaked and ruined carpet. Uncle traded car off sometime later.

    Like 0
  26. Joe S.

    Still wonder why some people make little to no effort cleaning up their vehicles before presentation. Says a lot about how the vehicles were maintained.

    Like 0
  27. Glenn SchwassMember

    I rented a Tempo once. It was way too underpowered to ever want. The milage was ok, if I remember but I can’t stand gutless vehicles, but many were then. My S-10 was only a little better. It would shut off if it got over 95° which is why I rented the Tempo for a camping trip.

    Like 0
  28. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskeyMember

    Had this been constructed when the car was new, I would think it was constructed as a prototype for a new style of Taxicab, perhaps for larger cities that have specific requirements for taxicabs, like New York City. This would explain the extra seating capacity and the raised roof. The late 1980s and early 1990s were a time of change for the taxicab industry. For example, New York City began allowing minivans, and Toyota created a specific NYC approved taxicab, as featured in the Cable TV show “Cash Cab”.

    However as the ad says this vehicle was modified 12 years later, I cannot imagine an organization using a 12 year old car to create a proposal/prototype, as it’s already outdated in many ways.

    So here is my theory . . .
    This was made for use by a specific family who had a handicapped family member with limited movement, and may have needed the extra length and headroom for a person who used a wheelchair, or perhaps the vehicle was equipped with a device to hoist a seated individual in and out of a vehicle. Perhaps after the family sold the car, the 3rd [center] seat was added [or perhaps that seat can be removed & installed quickly as needed]. It would be interesting to see if there was any evidence under the carpeting showing locations of fastening points for such equipment.

    Like 1
  29. Joey MecMember

    I drove an 84 Mercury Topaz with a 5 speed as my company car. Surprisingly it was fun to drive and not a bad car. For the likes of me, I too do not understand why this car was built either. Maybe the builder wanted a limo?

    Like 0

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