I never did catch up to Mystery Car 80 last week. But there was no doubt in my mind what is was — a Merkur XR4Ti. This was Ford Motor Company’s attempt to bring European styling to the US and Canada. According to Wikipedia, 42,464 units were produced from 1985 to 1989. It was a decent looking car for the times with some similarities to the Ford Mustang SVO. But instead of a big Mustang V8, the XR4Ti came with a turbo-charged 2.3L four-cylinder. The car had 145 hp with an automatic transmission and 175 hp with the 5 speed manual. Sounds fun! But the experiment didn’t work out too well for Merkur.
“A combination of a weird, unpronounceable name, poor marketing, curiously bulbous looks, and a strange biplane rear wing made the Merkur the automotive equivalent of the Frankenstein monster—a bizarre, deformed creature to be approached with great caution and, preferably, torches and pitchforks. In this case, the townsfolk slayed the monster; Merkur only lasted in the U.S. market for four [or five] years.”
As a former SAAB 900 Turbo owner, I can’t help but compare the Merkur’s specifications. Both had turbo-charged four-cylinder engines. Which had the better performance? As you can see from the following commercial, I’m not the only one who wondered.