4,822-Mile 1988 Merkur XR4Ti

There's a running joke here on COTC about absurdly low mileage cars. Why are they always boring econoboxes? Well, this super-low-mileager is slightly more unusual this time around.

The story of Merkur and the XR4Ti is a convoluted and mostly unpleasant one. Basically, Ford Motor Co. had been running an entirely different show in Europe, selling cars that were smaller, sleeker and more fuel efficient. Europeans may have a tradition of better made cars that do admittedly meet slightly different demands, but that in no way means Americans should want anything less. That's exactly what Ford did though. They often gave us less.

Of course, the plan inevitably backfired, as most corner cutting does. In a bittersweet case of 'free enterprise' and 'competition', Americans did finally get better products - from rivals across the Atlantic and Pacific. Add in a fuel crisis or two and Detroit's Big Three were in Big Trouble. If only they had just sold us the cars they had given Europe that whole time, things may have been entirely different.

Not totally tone-deaf though, Ford thought they'd start to bring over some European models based on the Sierra and Scorpio. But instead of just calling it a Ford, they gave it a name the press instantly mocked and consumers mispronounced, prompting Ford's people to conduct spelling sessions at press releases. Note to marketing boardrooms everywhere: don't sell something you can't pronounce easily.

The shame is, botched rollout aside, the cars themselves weren't half bad. The XR4Ti was based on the Sierra and featured a futuristic aerodynamic body, hatchback rear door, turbocharged 4-cylinder power and rear-wheel drive. It wasn't a jet rocket but it offered similar performance to entry level Japanese sports cars of the time. It had no major flaws, and have held up well over time. The XR4Ti was in no way a bad car.

But the damage was already done. Production halted in 1989 with just over 42k examples produced and the brand dissolved, relegated to yet another bizarre chapter in eighties auto history.

The people that did end up with these cars took a liking to them. You could say the Merkur has since developed a cult following. But I have never seen one with this low mileage. Is it for real? The odometer only has 5 digits. The interior and exterior look pretty good, but the undercarriage shows surface rust and wear. The seller says he believes it is accurate.

If you missed the whole Merkur story this could be a rare opportunity to start fresh with a like-new one.

Available here on ebay.

No comments:

Post a Comment