“Are we in the tree of trust? The trust tree?” the text demanded to know. We were. A few weeks later I was driving a Merkur the color of cheap lipstick from Georgia to Virginia. The XR4Ti had gone from Tanner Foust to Rutledge Wood to Me and then to another kid named Matt. And now you can own it. Buy this car.
To say this car is magical is a bit of an understatement. The first owner of the Merkur, I’ve been told by the historians at Merkur Midwest, bought the car after being diagnosed with a terminal form of brain cancer. The man proudly made the last payment himself, in person, at the Ford dealership.
Somehow, the man beat the cancer and outlived the brand that gave him his car. A few years later when Top Gear USA came looking for a Merkur to feature on their show that was the car they picked. The concept of the TGUSA episode was that Rutledge, Tanner, and Adam would drive forgotten gems to determine which one was best.
Of course, the Merkur was the best, and something about it struck a chord with Rut, who spent his per diem money on it and had it shipped back to Georgia where his very nice and understanding wife immediately asked him to ditch it. That’s how I ended up on a long stretch of interstate between Atlanta and Charlottesville in a car with a welded diff.
The diff was fixed... eventually, and was bashed gently around Virginia and I was never once pulled over (a miracle in its own right). At one point, Bill Caswell was in town and managed to drive around Charlottesville until he found the Merkur and, since I was not home, he proceeded to sticker bomb it (and my neighborhood).
When I moved to New York I sold it to reader Matthew Keyser, who used it as his first car and wrote about his experience. This time writing convinced him he wanted to pursue a career in journalism (poor guy) and he’s hoping to sell it so someone else, to, who can enjoy the magic.
Buying a car from a teenager may sound scary, but it’s probably accurate to assume that between Rut, Tanner, and myself that young Matthew was the most responsible driver. It’s going super cheap right now at $750 (reserve not met) and is a steal at anything under $3k given the performance upgrades and history.