Euro Ford Fever – 1987 Merkur XR4Ti plus bonus Capri

Along with the Alfa Milano and Peugeot 405 Mi16, the Merkur XR4Ti imported by Ford in the second half of the 80s is an under-appreciated alternative to more common cars in its category, such as E30 BMW 3-series or M3, Mercedes 190E 2.3-16, and Saab/Volvo turbos. It’s got unusual styling that was very modern in the 80s, keeping up with the baby Benz but making the 3-series and Swedes look very dated. Nonetheless, it did not get the same kind of popular appreciation, no doubt thanks to poor marketing on the part of Ford/Lincoln-Mercury, who were as excited about pushing high-margin floaty-boats like the Town Car and Cougar (couldn’t sell a car with that name nowadays!) as they were in the days of, say, the Capri.

As with many under-appreciated cars, good examples are hard to find. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a clean example of one of these for many moons now, and this is the first one I’ve found which I would take seriously. Most are project cars that have blown turbos, missing exhaust components, and faded paint. The bonus of being under-appreciated is that even the really nice cars are affordable, and this one seems to be a case in point. Behold, for $2500, this solid looking example in Mesa, AZ. With only 123K miles and running great, it looks like a decent deal.

1987 Merkur XR4Ti front

Many of these cars also have an automatic transmission, but this car is equipped with a five speed. With rear-wheel drive and a turbo, I’m surprised the drift crowd haven’t sunk their teeth into these. Speaking of the turbo, things you want to look for are signs of overheating, a cooked turbo, and leaking fuel injectors. A failed Thick Film Ignition module seems to be a leading cause of no-start, along with a snapped timing belt. While the latter is not fatal to the valves & pistons, it is fatal to getting home without a tow. Lastly, for you Alfa and BMW drivers, this car also has a giubo, so major vibrations could indicate its failure, or engine/transmission mount failure.

1987 Merkur XR4Ti rear

It’s a shame the owner didn’t include any engine shots, so it’s hard to judge condition thoroughly on a white car. However, his ad has some good detail on the car’s spec (if not much on its current condition), and what you can see of the car is quite nice – for one thing, you still get the wacky biplane spoiler with this year. Other issues to watch out for are common to any well-built 80s car (common electrical and driveline problems) – check out the Merkur Encyclopedia for a thorough pre-purchase checklist and endless pages of repair tips & tricks.

1987 Merkur XR4Ti interior

The interior looks as tidy as the outside, so there’s a good basis to assume it’s worth the asking price. Count on cracks in the dash, judging by its location and the dash mat. A cool 80s MOMO wheel or something from Ford Motorsport might spice things up a bit.

1972 Mercury Capri

As a bonus, here’s another Ford that’s been on the RustyButTrusty Must-Feature-Soon list. These are getting harder to find, but here’s a 1972 Capri in Bloomington, CA (in the Inland Empire) for a mere $2000. It’s “road race ready” with new clutch, brakes, and tires, and a new driver’s seat with 5-point harnesses on both sides. It would be interesting to know if there’s some history behind this car, but with racing history on its side, it could be a fun weekend toy. Since it seems to be plated, there’s no need to have it trailered out for track days. Check out the Capri Club for more information about these cars in North America.

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One Response to “Euro Ford Fever – 1987 Merkur XR4Ti plus bonus Capri”

  1. jeffrey reed Says:

    is it still availible? i’m not a dealer just always wanted a xr4ti. is the suspention all beat up or was it taken care of? ph.908-763-6925..thanx ,jeff

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