Watch A Merkur Chicken Race Ghostly BMWs, Saabs and Audis

Ah, the Merkur. There aren't many better examples of how poor marketing can kill a decent car. If you're a frequent visitor to Jalopnik, you know this story. But if you're a regular human being capable of healthy relationships with other people, allow me to explain.

In the 1980s Ford decided to sell some of their more interesting European cars in the U.S. But rather than just sell them as Fords, the company created a separate brand of cars sold at Lincoln-Mercury dealerships called "Merkur," German for "Mercury." It's pronounced "mare-coor," but nobody was able to get that right back in the day.


This ad says that once upon a time, BMW, Saab and Audi challenged the establishment. Mercedes-Benz, I assume. "But now they ARE the establishment and they face a challenge. Merkur XR4Ti… from Germany." As in, "Of course it's a sport sedan, idiot. It's from GERMANY, isn't it?" And if you still have doubts, check the über-pretentious "Ford Werke A.G." badge on the hood.

If there's any truth in advertising, the XR4Ti (née Ford Sierra) excelled at chicken racing other luxury sport models, which would then disappear into thin air at the very sight of it.

What it did not excel at at was leaving the showroom. Due to its odd name, unusual styling and high prices, the cars never sold well in America like they did in Europe. The whole "Merkur" thing just didn't endear itself to anyone.

It's kind of a shame as the XR4Ti was actually a pretty decent car in its day. Packing the same 2.3-liter turbo four as the Mustang SVO, the rear-wheel-drive hatchback was good for a respectable seven second run from 0 to 60. They were known to have impressive handling, too.


What do you think went wrong with the XR4Ti? Should it just have been sold as a Ford or Mercury? Would you like to see it make a comeback?

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