Ford’s Merkur brand failed, but don’t blame the cars

Paul West was exactly the kind of customer Ford had in mind when it launched the Merkur brand. An electrical engineer with a preference for European cars and modern design, West passed over an Audi coupe and bought a 1989 Merkur XR4Ti, a car with a German pedigree and a practically unpronounceable name.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/03/05/fords-merkur-brand-failed

I always wanted a Merkur when I was a kid. Thought it would have made a cool first car. Never was able to find one I could afford in decent shape.

I owned two Merkur Scorpios in the late '80s and early '90s. They were terrific cars for the most part, and certainly the most beautiful and spacious interior of any 4 door sedan I’ve ever owned. And the rear seats electrically reclined to nearly a sleeping position. It boasted a huge trunk, handled and rode very well for a big car. Unfortunately, Ford never figured out how to market European Imports, always sticking them at Lincoln/Mercury Dealerships amongst the Big Lincolns and Grand Marquis. This started in 1971 with the Italian De Tomaso Pantera, continued in 1973 with the German Capri coupe, and was followed up in the '80s with the Merkur XR4Ti and the Scorpio. All of these European imports were excellent examples of their genres at the time, but were left to wither on the vine at Lincoln/Mercury Dealerships where sales people and management alike had no idea what to do with them or who to sell them to. I guess I was one of the idiots who bought them as I’ve had Merkurs, a Capri, and still have a Pantera. I guess I’m an oddball.

In his early days before becoming a national juggernaut, Jim Rome bought one to knock around in San Diego. It was not very reliable and became the butt of many jokes. He has made the XR4Ti moniker famous (infamous?) today as that’s the name Rome has given his studio crew.

Bought a 79K mile 1987 California survivor car in 2017. Have spent some $$ on it to make it roadworthy and really get a kick out of driving it. A real conversation starter with people too, Had one as a company car back in the 80s and loved the turbo (even the lag) and the handling. Would probably sell it now but only to someone who’s going to make it even better. I feel good about saving it from its demise.