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At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?
Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Merkur says it can be registered as a historic vehicle, and it is true that it represents a good bit of Ford history, albeit not the most successful part. Still, could that history get you to part with some modest cash?

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Bringing back an extinct species is an incredibly daunting goal. If it weren’t, we’d already have our boutique Wooly Mammoths, Dodo Birds, and maybe even the return of our beloved Tupac.

The seller of yesterday’s 2009 Toyota Tacoma TRD attempted this feat, creating a modern-looking standard cab, something Toyota actually killed off a few years ago. Unfortunately, like most cautionary tales, this one had a not so happy ending.

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The impetus for that truck’s creation seems to have been an accident that caused a write-off. As we all know, a salvage title means you can’t ask a premium for a vehicle, no matter how unique it is. At $17,900, that Tacoma did ask a premium, and few of you were having it, eventually dropping the truck in an overwhelming 85 percent Crack Pipe loss.

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?

Did you bathe this morning? Hey, don’t get all huffy, I’m not here to judge. Hell, I can’t smell you. I only bring up this specific attribute of a healthy personal hygiene regimen because it most likely involved the use of a bar of soap. That use generally wears down the bar, rounding the edges and creating a smooth shape that more easily glides over your own personal contours and eases lathering in your hands.

That’s kind of the idea behind today’s 1986 Merkur XR4Ti, which, as you can see features an aerodynamic shape that’s quite akin to a well broken-in bar of Irish Spring.

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Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?

One of the most important aspects of aero-control in a car is the management of the flow off the back. That can be critical at speed since improper airflow can cause lift that negatively impacts traction and handling. Messy flow can hamper top speed and fuel economy too. Because of its importance, many cars feature aero aides at the back, most oftentimes a spoiler which literally “spoils” the airflow making it do what the engineers want it to.

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There have been many cars with such rear spoilers, but just five of those are what we all might all consider being iconic iterations of the role. Those are the shopping cart handle of the 1970 Plymouth Superbird/Dodge Charger Daytona; the whale tail of the 1975 Porsche 930; the crazy roof-extending wing of the 1992 Ford Escort Cosworth; the trunk-stored triple-riser of the BMW 3.0 CSL; and, important to our discussion today, the bi-plane spoiler on the Sierra XR4 and by extension, this Merkur XR4Ti.

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?
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Now, not all XR4Tis have the biplane. The last two model years eschewed that wonderful bit of kitsch for a more traditional and far less fun single spoiler. As you might expect, those were the poorest-selling model years.

This 1986, however, has the wing. It also apparently has had a good bit of engine work completed under its hood. That includes a rebuilt cylinder head on its 2.3-litre Pinto four, a new timing belt and water pump and, perhaps most importantly, a new turbo.

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Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?

Most manufacturers today offer smaller displacement turbos as a means to enhance performance while still offering modestly reasonable fuel economy. In the ‘80s Ford embraced this strategy, offering the pressurized Pinto mill as a performance option across multiple models. Here in the manual-equipped Merkur it produced 175 horsepower. Automatic cars got lower turbo pressure and just 145 ponies as a result of that. That’s just another reason to hate automatics.

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Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?

The car wrapped around the turbo mill with the freshened top end looks reasonably solid as well, although there are places where the creeping crud is gaining a beachhead. Those will either need to be addressed, or the car will need to be considered as little more than a short-term acquisition. Nothing looks too bad, and props to the seller for providing pics showing what’s funky and what’s junky.

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The interiors on Merkurs generally don’t hold up, and this one does show some wear on the driver’s seat. The leather there is split along a seam in the squab, and there’s some general crazing on the bolsters and the back. On the plus side, the rest of the seats look to be in decent shape, and the dash is un-cracked and looks to have all its trim. An aftermarket radio in silver (the factory units were color-matched Grundigs) and an odd toggle switch mar the center stack a bit.

Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?
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Back outside, the bodywork looks okay, albeit with the aforementioned road rot sticking to the door bottoms and frames. The hood is a different color from the rest of the car and the red that covers everything else looks to be a re-spray. Factory phone dials fill the grey plastic edged wheel arches.

The odo shows 60,746 but seeing as it’s a five-barrel unit that could be 100K more than that. The ad doesn’t say what the car carries but does note that it comes with a Michigan green title, which is something I had to look up. Apparently green indicates a clear title in that state, while a junk title denoted by red.

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Illustration for article titled At $2,500, Would You Make This 1986 Merkur XR4Ti Your Wingman?

The asking price is $2,500 which honestly isn’t a lot. This is, however, a car that may or may not peg your tach depending on how avid a Ford history buff you might be. The question is whether, history major or not, could this somewhat rough but reasonably complete—and those wings!—Merkur get that much?

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You decide!

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Detroit, MI Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Don G. for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at rob@jalopnik.com and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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DISCUSSION

shanemorris
Shane Morris

I agree with Rob, and it’s probably 165,000 miles deep, rather than 65,000. With that said, swapping parts in and out of the Merkur is a breeze. Thunderbirds and SVO Mustangs of the same era can be raided for cheap engine parts.

The interior is plug and play for seats and interior bits. At $2,500, a modest $1,000 on top, plus some weekend time, and you have a fun, mostly reliable vintage sports car. My friend John had one of these, and I was amazed how easy it was to Frankenstein these with other parts. It’s the upside to a Parts Bin car; you can bring your own parts bin if you like.

My advice: These look nice on the Fox Body Cobra wheels, and make better power with the intercooler from a Thunderbird. Also, get an aftermarket boost controller, as the factory unit was meant to keep it from being faster than the Mustang.

Nice price.