Merkur: A German car now making (literal) smoke in America

Guest
By Guest Writer
Jan 29, 2023 | Merkur, 24 Hours of Lemons, Low-Buck Tech, Merkur XR4Ti | Posted in News and Notes | From the Dec. 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Photography by Aaron Cole

Story by Eric Rood

At times it feels like car companies predicted the existence of the 24 Hours of Lemons and built accordingly. No, we don’t mean the solid, low-effort contenders like BMW or Mazda. In this case, we specifically mean Ford’s short-lived, highly confusing Merkur brand and its Lemons-bait model, the XR4Ti.

On paper, the XR4Ti has all the trappings for …

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
11/29/22 10:20 a.m.

Is the XR4Ti the best option for an old-school sports sedan? Probably not–but I still think it's neat.

buzzboy
buzzboy SuperDork
11/29/22 10:24 a.m.

The fastest Lemon I've seen was an XR4ti with a 5.8 and powerstroke turbo. Turned one blisteringly fast lap(1:48) at CMP then shredded it's diff.

livinon2wheels
livinon2wheels GRM+ Memberand Reader
11/29/22 2:01 p.m.

Had one of the XR4Ti in Red....loved and hated that car. One of the best road cars I have ever owned bar none. Comfy, quick (when it was running right, more on that in a minute), reasonably fuel efficient for the day, it handled and stopped well. I loved driving it. It developed a nasty habit that I could never resolve. It would occasionally fail to come on boost and make the power when you asked for it and I never could figure what was going on in the electronics to make it be so tempermental. I finally gave up and blamed it on the fact that it was a ford and traded it for a much quicker and fun to drive nissan. The nissan lasted me many trouble free years before a blind man on the way to his eye doctors appointment decided to turn left directly in front of me while I was running 45-50 mph. I punched the olds 4 door right in the B pillar and pushed it all the way past the midpoint of the car, barely escaping pinching the old man driving between the displaced b pillar and the drivers door...end to one nissan, one oldsmobile, 3 broken ribs for my wife in the passenger seat, and the old man was shaken up and basically walked away without a scratch. I shudder to think how well we would have survived that accident in the Merkur or if we would have...in the end I think my frustration with the faulty electronics in the Merkur and the decision to trade was a good one and probably saved both our lives. I still liked driving it though :)

darkbuddha
darkbuddha HalfDork
11/29/22 3:49 p.m.

I'd like to tell you the XR4TI is the perfect formula for cheap fun (which is harder and harder to come by) because they're RWD, nearly perfectly balanced, have IRS, factory turbo, durable factory forged piston engine, fairly light weight (when stripped), and all that. But that might drive up demand and prices, so nope, they're terrible, unreliable, difficult to get parts for, no fun to drive, ugly, and expensive to maintain. Yeah, that's definitely why I'm building one for the $2k Challenge.

swampyankee
swampyankee New Reader
1/31/23 7:48 a.m.

I had an XR4Ti, and my wife drove a Scorpio back in the late-90's, both as daily drivers. The XR was a hoot to drive, but turbo boost had me doing 60 too soon and too often. Joined a caravan of dedicated XR owners to Ford Weekend in Carlisle and it was great fun. I miss the XR.

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