Junkyard Find: 1989 Merkur XR4Ti

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 merkur xr4ti

Every so often during the 1970s and 1980s, the suits in Detroit had an inspiration: Take one of the corporation’s European-market vehicles, throw some new badges at it, and sell it in the United States. Chrysler did it with the Hillman Avenger aka Plymouth Cricket, GM did it with the Opel Kadett aka Buick Opel, and Ford did it with the Ford Capri aka “the Capri.” While these deals never worked out so well when it came to the bottom line (though the Simca-derived Omnirizon did pretty well for Chrysler), Ford didn’t give up on the idea. Bob Lutz decided that a Mercury-badged Ford Sierra with a turbocharged Pinto engine would be just the ticket for stealing BMW customers: the Merkur XR4Ti.

The XR4Ti was rear-wheel-drive and reasonably quick for its time, but car shoppers were confused by the Merkur brand and the build quality was iffy. Here’s a Crusher-bound example of the final-year XR4Ti, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.

Merkur dealerships couldn’t even move 3,000 of these cars in 1989, which makes this a very rare car.

The biplane spoiler of the first few years of the XR4Ti became this tamer-looking single spoiler.

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  • Solracer Solracer on Jun 11, 2012

    There actually was a 1988 1/2 model XR4Ti that came with the monoplane spolier too. However I can just tell from the pics that this is an actual 1989 model because on the 1989s the speedo went above 85 mph while on the 1988 1/2 the tics continued past 85 but there were no numbers. I had a 1988 1/2 I bought used with just 29,000 miles in 1993. Excellent car, by then all of the problems (especially the dash and the leather seats) !had been solved so it was a good and reliable car. Ended up selling it to my mother when I bought a Neon ACR for autocross and she drove it for several more years until the last dealer doing Merkur service in the area shut down and she found a killer deal on a used Miata. I still think very fondly about this car and I think it's poor reputation isn't totally deserved.

  • Snakebit Snakebit on Jun 11, 2012

    I, don't think unfondly of my '88 XR4Ti, with monoplane spoiler, either. As I wrote before, I got mine used several years later, with only 4,000 miles, and totally loved it. As for your mom's Miata, I also had a '92 special edition (black with tan leather). Another car I wish I'd still owned.

  • Sgeffe Honda should breathe a sigh of relief! This makes the decimation of the Cam..”Accord”..look like a bathroom accident! Funny thing, as was pointed out, that apparently mirroring the user’s phone wasn’t the be-all end-all! What a disgrace! 😂
  • Wayne no one ever accused Mary Teresa Barra of being smart
  • Mike1041 I’m sure that it’s cheaper to install a Google system than pay for Apple and android. Simple cost reduction with all the pr crap to make the user think it’s better
  • MKizzy A highly visible steering wheel lock is the best deterrent when the H/K thieves are amateurs looking for a joyride. The software fix may be effective in keeping an H/K car where you parked it, but I doubt most wannabe kia boyz will bother checking for the extra window sticker before destroying the window and steering column. Also, I guarantee enough H/K drivers won't bother getting either the software fix or a steering column lock to keep these cars popular theft targets for years to come. Therefore, any current H/K owners using a steering column lock should consider continuing to do so for the long term.
  • Jack For me, this would be a reason for rejection if considering a purchase of one of these overgrown golf carts.