1-Owner 1985 Merkur XR4Ti

Merkur was Ford's short-lived import brand from the late '80s. In a rather roundabout way, Ford decided to market their German-made cars in the U.S. market. So we were getting a product made in Germany, owned by a U.S. corporation, intended for the European market, but modified and branded to sell here. Sheesh! Why they couldn't just be honest about it and call it what it was - a Ford - is one of automotive history's minor follies.

Since the brand was discontinued in 1989, it made one wonder whether all the trouble on Ford's behalf was worth it (they even once held press-conference to clarify the pronunciation of "Merkur"...note to marketing executives: if you have trouble saying the name of your brand, the whole brand is in trouble).

Fortunately, the XR4Ti wasn't half bad. It was based on the European Ford Sierra. A 2.3-litre inline turbocharged 4-cylinder engine sent up to produced up to 175 horsepower to the rear wheels.

Styling-wise, the translation from European economy car to U.S. yuppie-mobile was mostly successful, and at least very memorable. The grille-less front takes getting used to, but the overall shape is nicely proportioned, and the rear quarter window is something rarely, if ever seen on vehicles. The double-decker bi-plane rear spoiler was also-controversial, but when they toned it down for a single level spoiler in the final year or two, the double-decker was somewhat missed. Did it really keep the car weighted down? Who knows. But it was unusual, looked good, and harkened to the car's distant rally cousins in Europe.

Inside, things work relatively well too. The dashboard is un-pretentious and deliciously bland, and is more '80s American than '80s European, but has held up well, mainly due to the fact it's wholly more functional, ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing than American interiors of the '70s. This one looks totally fresh in light grey bolstered leather seats.

The seller states the vehicle has only one previous owner that accumulated just 94k miles on the car. Finding a low mileage Merkur isn't difficult. 42,464 were made, and they have a cult-following here, so most owners are trying keep them preserved. The rest of them are junked, trashed, and abandoned.

There is no real value in the XR4Ti and nobody expects them to rise, though I am sure they will someday in the distant future. Hemmings estimates the value of an "excellent" example at only $3,000. They are a relic of the '80s that failed not because they were a bad machine, but because they were marketed poorly by humans.

Available here on ebay in El Cajon, California for $4,999 and the Make Offer option.

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