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Hagerty Employee

$10K classic: The Merkur XR4Ti is an affordable '80s treat | Hagerty Media

If you've got a Merkur XR4Ti on the brain, blame Bob Lutz. "Maximum Bob," as he became known, is one of the guys who also gave us the Dodge Viper and the Chevy Volt. But back in the early 1980s, Lutz was president of Ford of Europe, and his new Sierra, introduced at the 1982 [...]

I considered an "XRATI" back in the day, but ultimately they were too expensive and I didn't trust Ford's commitment.

Right?! People were pronouncing it “X-rot-ee” - I thought I remembered that!

I off-roaded a rental version of one of these in Arizona when they first came out. Still the only time I have ever washed a rental car before I brought it back.

Sadly I suppose, it was proof once more that it doesn't make any difference with the performances like if the showroom appearance is worse then boring. Seriously, the original Ford Escort didn't look any more doll than that but at least it hardly cost anything so it had an excuse.

Finally saw with my own eyes what my fiance had described; I did that post above by phone, voice to text, and AFTER I'd hit reply but before the screen changed, I saw the VTT happily change some of my reply to different words.

Let's try that again-
"Sadly I suppose, it was proof once more that it doesn't make any difference what the performance is like if the showroom appearance is worse then boring. Seriously, the original Ford Escort didn't look any more dull than that, but at least it hardly cost anything, so it had an excuse."

Great to see you're among the believers. I've had to recite senseless looking texts from memory without looking at them to figure out what the sender actually said. Also discouraging that while my comments get posted more reliably with this new system we're no longer able to edit them. Gotta proof read before hitting that blue button!
Pit Crew

I hated the alphabet soup name back in the day and thought the rear looked goofy, but I found new respect while I was working for an electronics store and a customer got a new 32" tube TV (in the box) loaded into the back of the thing and got the hatch to close, LOL.
New Driver

I had a 1986 one I bought used in 1990 while I was in the Army and I loved that car though I wish it was the stick version.

When I left for Korea I left it with my parents and was going to trade it in when I came home. My dad liked driving it so much he bought it from me and drove it for several more years.
Pit Crew

I bought an identical car as a double leftover, for 14k. I added a sport exhaust, an inter cooler, and some heavier suspension. The car was crazy fast, and I drove it for over ten years until someone ran a stop sign in front of me. The main problem was useless dealers and service departments, but Rapido kept it going
Pit Crew

I can't remember which one of the car mags that said it, but the editor declared that domed stadiums around the country would turn into Merkur dealerships because so many would be sold.

The only things wrong with the car were that the dealerships weren't interested in it and in that time period Lincoln-Mercury marketing couldn't have sold a lifejacket to a drowning man.
Intermediate Driver

European versions were fast.
Pit Crew

While I appreciate Hagerty highlighting the XR, I'm also very glad to know prices will continue to remain a bargain relatively. See, despite the now 35 year old, woefully uninformed, grossly exaggerated horror stories told about these cars, that reputation continues to follow them to this day. I'm actually glad, because it will keep the prices down and keep them available to those that truly appreciate their styling, performance, driving experience, and potential. But still, you people need to stop talking about these cars before you ruin it. 😛
Intermediate Driver

I had one years ago. Fastest car I've ever owned until I burned out the turbo. I didn't know about letting it cool down etc.
It broke down one day out of town and I pushed it off to the shoulder.
I called my mechanic and said if he came and towed it he could have it.
I never saw it again....
I got a ride back downtown to a shady used car lot and bought a 91' BMW 318is on the spot and drove that for 4 or 5 years.
Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

Turbo intercoolers were not so popular with automotive engineers back then but I believe if FOMOCO's SVO department would have had some forward thinking personal I'm certain an intercooler engineered between the turbo and the intake manifold could have given that 2.3 an easy 200 horses and the same number in torque if not more. Probably would not have required more than a modified engine hood equipped with a hood scoop for the cooler. Bet it would have increased sales by a large margin.
Community Manager

@Hagerty Fan Intercoolers were very popular, if you were the engineers behind the 1984 Mustang SVO, as it had one from the factory. Even the 83-86 Thunderbird Turbo had a kit from Ford Motorsport back in the day. No, Ford had no interest in improving the XR4ti. 


But even if they did, it wouldn't have changed history enough to matter. 

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

More performance changes everything.
Pit Crew

I had one, a white 1986 5 speed, they were junk! Overheating issues, turbo failures, hvac problems, leather seats cracked and was subject to recall, rack and pinion issues, driveshaft problems, radios were junk. Additionally they were notorious for rust. Service at LM dealership was laughable. I did like the styling and so did my gf at the time!
New Driver

I bought one of these used circa 1997 for about a month. I want to say it was the first year, as it had the double spoiler. It was red, automatic, and oddly fun to drive. Sadly, it was also notoriously unreliable and had awful brakes. The funny thing about this car is there was a warning buzzer that went off when you went full throttle and neared redline. Scared the holy heck out of me the first time it did it.

This was definitely the oddest car I ever owned.
Community Manager

The buzzer is the turbo overboost warning buzzer. Perhaps someone tinkered with the turbo's boost output in the past? 

New Driver

Had two of them in the 80’s. The second one I took to Jack Rousch Engineering in a Detroit suburb. Asked them to duplicate the mods that they did for Jackie Stewart when he went on a publicity tour in the USA for Merkur. Made it the most entertaining car I’ve owned. And I’ve had a lot of them. Porsches , BMW’s (including an M6), T-Bird Turbo Coupe, Mustang GT, modified Gran Torino Sport, Cyclone GT, etc. The extent of the mods was unbelievable:
Koni struts snd shocks, large front and rear stabilizer bars, variable rate front and rear springs, T-5 trans w 3.50 first gear, 86 SVO Mustang clutch, 87 Turbo Coupe shifter and boot, reworked front driveshaft, slip yoke and U- joint, 88 T-Bird turbo Coupe intake manifold with inner-cooler, JRPE Innercooler Plenum, Unique IHI Turbo and JRPE EECIV calibration.
Unbelievably fast and great handling car. Would run with anything. Would just squat and take off!
Added Motorsport wheels with Pirelli P7’s. Could out accelerate and out handle Vettes.
Wish I had it today.
New Driver

I grew in Venezuela and this cars were immensely popular and were sold as Ford Sierra. They sold this one (XR4TI), we also have a 4 door version and later they introduced and midcycle revision (streamline front fascia, much better looking) with a sedan version called Sierra 300 (3.0 V6). The difference us that all of them were V6, first with carburetor and then fuel injection, pumping anywhere from 150-170hp. Those cars were light and fast and drove really great.