The cars we loved.
Every once in awhile a car comes along that so polarizing you just have to either love or hate it. The Mercury Merukr XR-4Ti was just such a car. During the 80’s when American car manufacturers thought anything from Europe or with designed-in European heritage was gold, Ford brought over a version of it’s sporty Sierra to the States to be sold at Mercury dealerships. From 1985 to 89, you could buy this midsized 2 door hatch fitted first with a normally aspirated 2.3l 4 with 145hp to a later version with turbo charging (XR-4Ti) and175hp.
There was little in Ford’s US line up that related to the XR4Ti, except for the SVO Mustang possibly. Unlike the Mustang, from which it took some design cues, the end result came out looking too radical for some and ugly to most. As a freshmen in college with no money, I thought XR4Ti’s styling was way cool. Problem was people with money did not. Despite it’s solid engineering (independent suspension, disc brakes, turbo charged 2.6 OHV V6, etc.), it was too odd for most. It did not help that it’s name was bizarre and that Mercury dealerships were the province of sleepy sedans (save for the Capri) at the time. By the time the car discontinued, the large bi-plane spoiler had become more standard looking and the Merkur was almost blending in. Too bad this car never really caught on in the States. In Europe there were many variations including a very fast Cosworth tuned AWD version.