1988 Merkur XR4Ti

This Merkur sold for $4,350.

As enthusiasts, oddly we often lament new cars. Undoubtedly, newer models turn better, stop better and accelerate faster than most of the cars that they replace. They return better fuel economy, have more gears, and are generally more reliable. In a crash, they’ll save your life and some will even call the police for you. Impressive? Sure, without a doubt. But if I had a nickle for every time I heard how some enthusiast would rather have a brand new example of a car from their youth, I’d be a rich man. I’ve heard it from all sources; desire for a bullet-proof reliable new W126 S-Class, longing for a return of the real Quattro with locking differentials, dreams of finding a new E30 M3 or 3.2 Carrera. But if you’re a bit different, perhaps you’re one of the devoted Merkur fans.

Now, I know what you’re saying. Merkurs are Fords, and Fords are American. How about this – Ford Europe’s headquarters is in Cologne, Germany. And they produce a fair amount of cars in Germany even today. Since we consider the Volkswagens built in Chattanooga and Westmoreland, the BMWs built in Spartanburg, and the Mercedes-Benz models bolted together in Alabama, I think we can deviate for a moment into a hot Ford.

Audi and SAAB helped to mainstream turbocharging, and by the 1980s it was almost expected in performance circles. That culminated in a wave of ever increasing performance hot hatchbacks that completely changed our perception of speed. As newer, faster models emerged, the technology increasingly filtered its way into lower-spec models until the results of all of the turbocharging basically were acknowledged to be wrecking the world’s environment. I call it ‘Trickle-down Turbonomics’. The result? Ford launched a series of turbocharged hatchbacks and sedans in the 80s, including the Fiesta RS, the Mustang SVO, the turbocharged Thunderbird, and this car – the XR4Ti, the US version of the Ford Sierra.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Merkur XR4Ti on eBay

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1988 Merkur XR4Ti with 5,000 Miles

As enthusiasts, oddly we often lament new cars. Undoubtedly, newer models turn better, stop better and accelerate faster than most of the cars that they replace. They return better fuel economy, have more gears, and are generally more reliable. In a crash, they’ll save your life and some will even call the police for you. Impressive? Sure, without a doubt. But if I had a nickle for every time I heard how some enthusiast would rather have a brand new example of a car from their youth, I’d be a rich man. I’ve heard it from all sources; desire for a bullet-proof reliable new W126 S-Class, longing for a return of the real Quattro with locking differentials, dreams of finding a new E30 M3 or 3.2 Carrera. But if you’re a bit different, perhaps you’re one of the devoted Merkur fans – and your dream could be realized:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Merkur XR4TI on eBay

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1985 Merkur XR4Ti

It’s always interesting to see automakers test the US waters and offer intriguing models outside of the bread and butter lineup. Such was the case with Merkur, Ford’s attempt at capturing a bit of the Euro car buying public in the 1980s. Sold through Lincoln/Mercury dealers, two vehicles were on offer under this badge: the five-door Scorpio and the three-door XR4Ti we see here. Based on the Ford Sierra, this car had a 2.3 liter turbocharged four cylinder under the hood similar to the Mustang SVO’s powerplant. Combining decent power with hatchback practicality wasn’t enough to garner significant sales and after a few short years in the US, the brand was pulled from dealers. There are still a few of these captive imports running around today, like this XR4Ti for sale in Ohio that had an overhaul in 1999.

Year: 1985
Model: XR4Ti
Engine: 2.3 liter turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 161,000 mi
Price: Reserve auction

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Merkur XR4Ti on eBay

1985 XR4Ti 2.3 Turbocharged 5 speed. ***Near new car!!***

Mineral Blue with grey leather.

I have service records from Liberty Ford in Vermillion Ohio extensively mechanically restoring this car. One receipt alone is for 12960 dollars!! This receipts shows a full engine rebuild, new struts, rear end, turbo, and about 4 pages worth of other replacement parts. There are other receipts as well. The work done to this car makes it one of a kind. The work was done in 1999 with 148k on the odometer. The car now shows 162k and counting. Its like having a 27 year old car that is really only 14 years old and has 14k miles on it mechanically.

The paint is still very shiny and presents well, some minor wear and tear from age and user like dings, scraches. The paint on the spoiler does have some clear delaminating around the edges and the spoiler is also cracked by the windshield wiper arm. The wheels are refinished and look like new with new tires with only a few hundred miles on them.

In July 2013, the tires, calipers, rotors, pads, the AC receiver dryer, and expansion valve, blower motor rebuilt, and clutch quadrant were all replaced by the previous owner. The interior is in very good shape with reupholstered leather seats and a hard cover on the dash. There is wear and tear from age and use, some sun damage to plastics, headliner worn some, monor staining here and there, overall cleans up very well.

Its starts up and runs/shifts great, no noise from the rear end or transmission. This is a turn key ready to drive home car! AC blows very cold and heat is very hot! Heated seat option still works great also!

Rare, rear wheel drive European Ford, very much like a European Mustang. Quick, great handling, fun car that can be driven every day or kept as an investment. Great car!! Just drove on a trip to Michigan for work over 400 miles. Runs and drives excellent, would not hesitate to drive anywhere, any distance!! Excellent gas mileage also.

Bought for my daughter, but as a new driver she is having trouble with a manual and we want to get her an automatic. Consider partial trades of work truck, beaters, ATV, Motorcycles, non running, plus cash. Drive your beater to me and drive this classic turbo home!

Some things I am also interested in:

71-73 Vega Hatchback, Citation X-11, 1988 Fiero GT, Chevy LUV, Monza Mirage or Spyder, Corvair, 82 or 86 Mustang GT, 87-92 Mustang 5.0, other interesting trades considered.

Buyer responsible for shipping or pickup. I will deliver for 1.00 a mile round trip to you or to a shipping terminal for you, but please ask about price and availablity first. Any delivery costs must be paid up front along with the deposit. Good luck bidding!


An eBayer asked about a drivetrain vibration this car had, below is my answer.

“The special drive shaft set up was rebuilt and crossmember and trans bushings/mounts were replaced by the previous owner along with new tires, I believe thats everything he said he replaced/fixed. It runs pretty smooth, but there still a slight vibration over about 72 mph. I drove 400 miles on all highway speeds on a trip to Michigan and it was great up to that speed and not horrible after that. The previous owner said the only thing he did not swap was the rear u-joint, so mabye that would help clean it up. Thanks.”

One thing that always strikes me in the US is the excuses I hear for not learning how to drive a manual transmission. When I was learning how to drive, there was no automatic in the house and the refrain from my father was simple “you can learn to drive a manual or not drive at all.” If it were my kid and I bought a neat ride like this as basic transportation, well, this would be it. I wouldn’t be trading vehicles. Unless you were missing a leg or had other physical ailments, there’s really not much of an excuse to not master three pedals.

OK, off of my soapbox. It’s quite an impressive amount of money that’s been invested in this Merkur over the years, but at the end of the day, what do you have? A Ford that is not so rare on the other side of the pond. There’s been a fair amount of bidding activity on this one, but I would be surprised to see this car crest $4,500 or so, as that puts it into territory occupied by Audi Quattros and E30s of the day. Still a neat piece to reflect back on and wonder what might have been had more people taken an interest.


1988 Merkur XR4Ti With 73k Miles

Sharing the same turbocharged, four cylinder engine with the rare Ford Mustang SVO, the Merkur XR4Ti was one of those captive imports that never quite caught on in the US market. Known as the Ford Sierra in other markets, this replacement for the Cortina and Taunus went on to campaign successfully in touring car and rally series racing. Here’s a clean, low mileage example that has been repainted in Virginia.

You’re bidding on a pristine Merkur XR4Ti with 73,887 original miles. Equipped with a 4 cylinder turbocharged engine and a smooth shifting 5 speed manual transmission. The vehicle has no major mechanical issues, it runs and drives great! The exterior of the vehicle has been repainted to its original color, pearl white and has no major flaws at all. The interior has all new carpet throughout and two newly re-upholstered front seats. This little Merkur has all the bells an whistles including: Power windows, factory A/C, CD player (aftermarket), cruise control, sunroof, leather seats, heated seats, and much more. Brand new tires and a fresh Virginia State Inspection this jewel is ready for it’s new owner!

With about a week left of bidding and a no reserve auction, this will be a good indication of where the market is these days for these cars. Personally, these aren’t the most desirable vehicles, but it could prove to be a cheap daily driver or an interesting subject at the next local European car meet.


1985 Merkur XR4Ti WRC Replica

Rallying has always fascinated me. In my opinion, it could very well be the most demanding of motorsports. It has also brought us some of the most legendary sporting cars to hit the streets, including the Audi Quattro, Lancia Delta Integrale and Renault R5 Turbo. A lesser known example to hit the circuit was the Ford Sierra RS Cosworth driven by Didier Auriol in 1988. An enthusiast in Canada has a replica of this very race car for sale, albeit based on the North American Merkur version of the Sierra.

The seller states:

1985 Merkur XR4Ti, 2.3lt Turbo 300+ HP, 5 Speed, Quaif LSD and much more. Replica of Didier Auriol’s WRC winning Panach Sierra Cosworth in ’88 Tour De Corse. Street legal & passes Ontario E-testing and safety inspections. Car was built to 2006 CARS rally regulations. Minimal upgrades to bring up to current rules.
This car ran in the ’07 & ’08 Targa Newfoundland tarmac Rally in Open Class. Car is amzingly fast and an absolute blast to drive and could be even faster and finish higher with an experienced crew. Never crashed or wrecked.

Car is highly modified. Car was featured in the January 2010 Performance Ford Magazine and been shown at the All Ford Nationals in Carlisle many times. This car can easily be configured to run gravel with only a few minor changes and it fits in the Group 5 class, Max Attack as well as the Classic division. This would be an excellent car to campain for the 2WD championship. Car comes with many many extra parts, 8 tires (Michelin Asphalt), 20 wheels, spare body pannels&glass, mechanical components, trans, diffs etc. Never been wrecked or crashed. Car has less than 3,000 miles on it since it was built!


-Ford 2.3 lt Lima turbo block .020” overbore, balanced and knife edge crank, shotpeened con-rods, Sealed Power coated pistons, compression lowered to 7.5:1, modified oiling system with external cooler, ARP hardware throughout, Esslinger aluminum flywheel.

-Cast iron head, extensively ported with larger valves, Ford Motorsport A237 roller camshaft, Race Engineering adjustable cam gear, custom made engine mounts.

-SC50 T3/T04e Turbo, ATR downpipe with Tial external wastegate, full 3” front to rear exhaust with catalytic converter in place, Turbosmart dual stage boost controller, Turbosmart Supersonic blow-off valve, RS500 style Intercooler, Custom C&R aluminum dual pass racing radiator w/dual fans, Custom made Phil Marshal intake manifold, Walboro 255 fuel pump, 42 lb/hr injectors, SDS programmable stand-a-lone engine management system from Western Motorsports with A/F ratio manual adjust & A/F readout with data logging, engine HP is estimated at around 300 @ 15 psi boost (low setting) and turbo is rated to 30 psi but never run at that level. Sorry no dyno sheet available as it was road tuned.

-Ford Ranger serpentine belt conversion for simplification and ease of obtaining replacement parts. Also allows for much better & larger alternator options.

-Mustang WorldClass T5 5-speed trans, Goldstar 4 puck racing clutch, MGW racing shifter, 1 piece HD Mustang driveshaft, David Godfrey billet aluminum clutch quadrant and manual clutch adjuster.

-7.5” XR4Ti/Sierra diff with 3.64:1 gear on a Quaif LSD, MC2 HD poly diff mount, Powerflex Polly bushed throughout.

-Rear disk brake conversion using Thunderbird Turbocoupe cross drilled rotors & Calipers, front Mustang PBR 2 pot brake conversion with Contour SVT cross drilled & grooved rotors, EBC Red-Stuff pads all around, David Godfrey master cylinder adapter with a Thunderbird master cylinder, Willwood manual bias valve mounted to the hydraulic handbrake, hydraulic handbrake from Demon Tweeks.

-Front Leda coilovers with 500 lb springs, rear Gaz shocks with 750 lb inboard springs.

-Larger Ford Sierra Cosworth swaybars f&r

-Custom David Godfrey front strut bar with Caster/Camber adjuster plates

-Fiberglass body kit from MC Rally (mostly RS but RS500 wings)

-8xFactory Ford 16×7.5 RS wheels with 8xMichelin PilotSport Cup tires (4 used, 4 new), also 12×15” Mustang 10 hole rims for mounting of Gravel tires.

-Custom made skid plate with copies of original Ford 909 WRC cross member & front tow hooks

-1x Sparco Rev Racing FIA Cert seat, 2xSchroth 6 point harnesses good to end of 2010, Sparco quick release steering wheel, Custom instrument cluster with all Autometer gauges (tach, speedo, fuel, coolant temp, oil temp, exhaust temp, oil pressure, boost, voltage), Terratrip 303+ Rally computer with remote display & reset

-Terraphone Intercom system + 2 TerraPhone practice headsets, wired for 2-way radio with Motorola antenna mount on roof, video camera mount, Custom roll cage by CSC Racing in Newmarket- Ontario (will need 1 additional roof cross brace added to comply with latest rules), Sparco co-driver foot rest, 2 Fire Extinguishers, Triangle kit and more.

-Euro Ford Sierra headlights, fog lights all relayed. Panel switches for auxiliary lights . Air horns with additional co-driver foot switch. Moroso battery box mounted in rear seat area with new sealed Optima Yellow Top batter, battery kill switch in dash & labeled. 3 or 4 sets of vehicle keys.

-Many boxes of spare parts, engine parts, f&r subframes, body parts (doors, hood), diffs, , Factory shop manuals, and much much more included with car.

The seller states the vehicle was appraised at $35,000, so I’d guess the reserve is north of $20,000. Race cars are never an easy sell, but given this vehicle is street legal, it may just fit the bill for a certain buyer. It certainly is a nice tribute to an important part of WRC history, and would make a great conversation piece for vintage race events.


1986 Merkur XR4Ti with 34,500 miles

How about a Ford with some German influence to spice up the week? Here we have a 1986 Merkur XR4Ti hatchback. Related to the Ford Sierra and built by the folks at Karmann in Rheine, Germany, these hatchbacks started appearing in the US in 1985 by the urging of then Ford Vice-President “Maximum” Bob Lutz. Powered by the venerable 2.3 liter four cylinder turbo similar to what was found in the Mustang SVO, it cranked out 145 hp in automatic form (175 for those cars equipped with the 5-speed manual). These interesting machines had a run in the US market up until 1989, when airbag legislation doomed the car due to retooling costs. Also, it didn’t help that Lincoln/Mercury dealers were peddling these things and had no clue how to market them. While they are becoming scarce on American roads today, finding ones with low mileage is even more daunting. Here we have an example of just that.

I purchased this vehicle from a VW dealer in 2002. It was traded in on a new vw. The original owner lived in Howard Beach NY. I bought this car for my father who needed a vehicle to get around town. He lived in boxford MA. At the time of purchase the xr4ti had 33,625miles.(I have documents). I had the vehicle gone through checking all the mechanical and replacing the tires, brakes and tune up. Shortly there after my father got sick and never really drove the car, as you can see current milage is 34581. In May of 09 I had the car towed to my house after sitting for the last 6+ years. I had the vehicle again gone through checking all the mechanical with only hoses need replacing due to age. The tires have flat spots but have been rounding out with me driving it around.Since they were new in 02 I hated to replace them.

There are a couple of things that need attention. There is a small dent in right front fender(pics), the headliner is beginning to fall, and the door panel needs to be glued on drivers door (pics). Otherwise the vehicle is in great shape. Everything is working. I have been driving it for a couple hundred miles and it seem everything is sorted out and working properly. It’s a great fun car and It’s rarity will pretty much guarentee you looks where ever you go. It is surprisingly quick when the turbo kicks in.

Not sure what the reserve is, but NADA.com is valuing high retail on an ’86 XR4Ti at $4,475, so I’d say anything under $5,000 would be reasonable, as this is not an easy car to put a price on. The only thing holding this back would be the automatic transmission in my opinion, but that could be a boon to the right buyer.