Junkyard Find: 1988 Merkur XR4Ti

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The Merkur XR4Ti (turbo-Pinto-engined Ford Sierra XR4i to you European types) wasn’t selling so well by the 1988 model year, but enough were built that I was able to find this example in a Northern California wrecking yard. In fact, this is just the second XR4Ti in this series, after this ’89 from two years back.

Quite a few of these cars compete in the 24 Hours of LeMons, in spite of their well-known proclivity for breaking down early and often under the strain of endurance racing.

Without the distinctive double spoiler, the ’88 and ’89 XR4Tis don’t stand out from the crowd quite as much as the earlier cars.

Perhaps this car would have sold better in the United States if the Argentina-market advertising had been used.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Sep 05, 2014

    The XR4Ti was the ford turbo they got right. The first version was in the very first fox bodied Mustangs. No intercooler, carburetor fed, four speed manual. What a disaster. The engine would load up with gas in hot weather, as it was a "draw though" design. The four speed trans in the Stang had very poorly chosen ratios. Many of the tests of the time told you to forget the Mustang turbomotor and that the Merkur motor was "fixed". My mom had one (stang). The only good thing was the TRX tires, which, at the time, were an improvement. I always like this car, oddball division.....

    • Gsf12man Gsf12man on Sep 05, 2014

      No intercooler on the XR4Ti, either, unfortunately. When I got my second XR4Ti, I put a Rapido intercooler on it, which made it pull like a mad thing on boost. Not that it was weak in the knees before that. Some minor Rapido suspension bits, KYB shocks and struts, a Sierra Cosworth RS steering wheel—I wish I still had that car! A real nickel-and-dimer but the engine was essentially bulletproof. The Sierra/Merkur is still in my top three favorite designs.

  • Kosmo Kosmo on Sep 05, 2014

    I traded in a Saab 900 on a lightly used, corporate driven Scorpio with 7,000 miles and some superman warranty from Ford. Went to test drive a new Taurus SHO. Great engine, but still a Taurus, and saw 4 Scorpios sitting on the lot at slightly less than half of sticker. Ford had decided to quit selling them, and required the corporate guys to turn them in and drive "what we sell". I loved that car. Underpowered, and undershocked (hooray for adjustable Konis), and that is the end of the criticisms. Big, quiet, smooth, RWD, hatchback, kick-a$$ stereo and on and on. When I eventually traded it in for another Saab, the small dealer said he was reluctant to take it, but two of the mechanics really wanted to buy it themselves. Deal done. One of the few cars that I continue to miss long after moving on.

  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.