RR Of The Day: Merkur XR4Ti

Merkurs are some of our favorite cars. Flickr pool member sncollins has a nice '88 XR4Ti he's been wheeling around for the last 20,000 miles or so. Powered by the tough-as-nails 2.3 liter turbocharged four that also saw service under the hood of SVO Mustangs and other Fox-platform cars, even a stock XR4Ti is a hoot. Of course, with the owner being an engineering student and car guy, this XR4Ti didn't stay stock for long. The nice thing about the Merkurs is their chassis was far more modern than anything else Ford was offering at the time. The aforementioned Fox-based cars were live-axle deals that would get all crossed up trying to claw out of a bumpy corner. The XR4Ti would spank BMW E30s hard, and with a Garrett T3 bolted to the side of the engine, a quick trip underhood with an open-end wrench would turn up the wick that much more. Sncollins's car is currently huffing out 23 psi from a modified turbo (the stock T3 would be in serious surge territory at 23 psi). The pressurized charge courses through a SAAB intercooler and tweaked intake manifold. The Civics are wary of this car now, due to the past smartings it's dished out. The rorty custom 3" exhaust doesn't help you fly under the radar, either.

More info, pics and a short mod list can be found after the jump, as well as instructions on how to submit your own ride for our RR of the Day.

Back in the early 1980s, the domestic brands were in dire straits, and Bob Lutz was around to shake things up. We think of him now as the guy spearheading GM's resurgence, but in the early 80's, he was Ford's man in Europe. The Sierra, which served as the basis for the XR4Ti, dropped in 1982 in Europe, and it was quite a change from the Cortina it replaced. The body was a hatchback with lots of glass area for great outward visibility. The RWD chassis had an independent rear end, and the cheeky face and smoothed shape resulted in a Cd of .34. Ford excitedly brought the car to the US, but under the Merkur moniker, which caused some confusion (the least of which was how to pronounce Merkur). Being sold out of Lincoln and Mercury dealerships didn't help, either. There were far fewer L/M stores than Ford locations, and the XR4Ti was out of step with the iron the Lincoln/ Mercury guys were used to selling. No amount of accolades from the press, or beatings rendered upon the European darlings of the time could keep the Merkur around. The double whammy of a ineffective sales machine and high price conspired to take the brand out of circulation by 1989. It's too bad. The Merkur really was a viable alternative to the Hessian or Nordic invaders.

1988 Merkur XR4Ti modifications


  • Garrett T3 w/T4 intake impeller
  • Log Headers
  • Ported and polished intake
  • ECU and Air Meter swapped for SVO Mustang parts
  • SAAB 900 intercooler
  • Custom 3-inch exhaust


  • Cosworth RS500 front brakes
  • Potenza RE92 tires
Dynos at about 260whp, not bad for simple modifications.

How to submit to RR of the Day:
Create a
Flickr account if you don't already have one. Search for and join the group called ' Autoblog RR of the Day '. Upload up to three photos of your ride to your own account at a size no larger than 450 pixels wide if possible and include as much information about it and yourself as possible. Even if your ride is sweet, it will not be chosen if there's not a lot of info accompanying it. Click on each photo and just above the picture it will say "Send to group". Click that and select the Autoblog group. You're done, that's it!

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