1989 Merkur XR4Ti

This 1989 Merkur XR4Ti is part of the owner’s personal vehicle collection. These weird and wonderful cars turned out to be an incredible flop here in the USA, but has a very strong cult following. The rarity and fascinating history of these cars will hopefully drive greater appreciation for the marque.

This particular example is mostly original and has covered just under 79,500 miles in its lifetime. While at a local car show in 2016, this red Merkur caught Andy’s eye. Andy began a conversation with the owners; they explained their relationship with the marque and that at one point in time they owned four, they each daily drove one as did their kids! Both of their kids have since moved away and the fleet of Merkurs was being sold off. This red one was their last and they were in search of a new caretaker for it. The following day, Andy visited them at their house where they showed him their Porsche 928 S4 and Jaguar E-Type they were restoring. They were true car aficionados and apparently felt comfortable enough with Andy that they asked if he would be interested in being the next owner of the Merkur.

Although this Merkur is an automatic, it is an absolute blast to drive. It is mostly original, save from one repaint in the original color, a Borla exhaust and upgraded stereo deck. Owning this Merkur has led to more spontaneous conversations than any other car in the collection; more than once, a one-minute gas station fill-up has turned into a whole hour-long conversation with strangers reminiscing their experiences with Merkurs.

A brief general history on the Merkur XR4Ti: Ford was producing and selling the Sierra over in Europe and then CEO, Bob Lutz, wanted to try selling it in the US, as he thought it had great potential to rival BMW with its quality and performance. The Ford Sierra could not be sold in the US under that name due to trademark issues with Oldsmobile, so Ford created a specific brand called “Merkur” that would be sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. The new XR4Ti went through some small design changes to fit US regulations and Ford contracted out with Karmann to hand-build each car at their production facility in Rheine, Germany. The US-spec car came equipped with a turbocharged 2.3L inline-four. Unfortunately, the sporty hatchback did not sell well here in the US, most likely due to strange marketing tactics. During the five-year production run, just under 42,500 were made with only 2,900 produced in the final year of 1989.