Purchasing a used Merkur XR4ti

Experience and disclaimer: I have bought two XRs, both 87s and lusted after several others, including Rich Franco's black 89, which is just about perfect but he won't sell it to me nomatter what. I've also read the IMON e-mail list for nearly four years and prowled through almost all of the Archives. I have done most of the work on both XRs myself, renovating both back to what I would consider very good condition. I sold the first one to a fellow in Las Vegas, who still owns it and as far as I know, still enjoys it. The second one is just about finished, lacking only a driver's seat (and maybe new carpeting) to be complete. The following is based on my experiences; your results may vary and others might have different opinions. This is intended as a guide only to the buyer interested in buying an XR. Regretfully, I don't know anything about Scorpios, although there are similarities.

There are many Web sites now for Merkur owners. The two best, in my opinion, are Merkurbahn and the Merkur Encloypedia. There are several parts suppliers... Rapido, BAT (British American Transfer), Lou Fusz Ford, MerknDice, Modern Performance, plus others.

I hope this helps you become an XR owner. Good luck.

Richard Curtis Fairfax Station, Va. 87XR, 5-speed, 63k miles


Don't enter into XR ownership lightly. Unless you can work on the car yourself, or have a boatload of money, or both, or you will be frustrated most likely with XR ownership. Almost all XRs require a lot of tender loving care. Parts are usually obsoleted (although you might be surprised at what turns up at local auto parts stores); you must be inventive in figuring out cures/repairs; you won't find many mechanics who know much (if anything) about XRs; you won't get any support from Ford Lincoln Mercury (henceforth, FLM). Having said that, I must admit to enjoying greatly the feeling of community that surrounds XR ownership, almost all of it because of the Internet. The car is great also... surprising performance coupled with good fuel mileage, great ride quality, cool looks. And almost all XRs are cheap to buy with the most expensive one I've seen recently being around $4,000 and many opportunities to buy a good XR for $2,000 or less. There are still some low-mileage examples around although don't be scared off by high-mileage cars. 150,000 miles is not uncommon for an XR.

XRs were sold in the U.S. starting with the 85 model year and ending with the 89 model year. Basically, the 85 and 86 models were alike in almost every respect. Beginning in 87, the floor pan changed slightly and the rear spoiler went from a biplane design to a mono design. Until sometime in 87, XRs had the lower plastic body cladding done in grey and then mono-colors became available. I believe most 88s and all 89s were mono color (the cladding was same color as the body but I might be wrong about this). Early models tend to have cracked dash covers and split leather upholstery or broken upholstery seams; some of these were recalled and replaced/repaired. There is a catalytic converter recall available for some of the early models (to find out if yours qualifies, call 1-800-392-3673 and inquire. Have your VIN handy.) The 88 and 89 model years offered Raven Black and some few beige (?) interiors that were not prone to the cracking dashes/split seams of the early models. Sadly, few 89s were brought into the U.S. (2,500?). In all, an estimated 44,000 XRs were imported from 85-89.

Most XRs came with power windows, power locks and mirrors, sunroofs, etc. Heated seats are fairly common (although not all of them still work). A sunroof-less XR is relatively rare and sometimes is referred to as a competition shell (slightly stiffer body). Beginning with some late 87s and through the 89s, the antenna became integral with the rear hatch glass, and were problems in a lot of cars (due to a breaking of the wire from the hatch to the car).

85 models do not have the third Center High Mounted Stop Light (CHMSL). The 85-86 models had what are referred to as phone-dial wheels that are 14 inches. The 87 models had what are referred to a pie-spoke wheels but are 15 inches as are all 88s and 89s. The 88s and 89s had BBS-style wheels. XR wheels are hub-centric and have a specific offset (information you'll need if you're looking for aftermarket wheels, a common upgrade). Not all colors were offered in all years. If you buy an XR ask the seller if he/she has a shop manual to go with it. These are now extremely rare (out of print) and are still worth their original $75 price if not more. There was also offered an electrical diagram and a vacuum diagram, both highly recommended.

Things I've observed on XRs that generally need to be replaced/repaired:

Common XR problems:






One good thing about XR engines: If you don't overheat them (which can be common), the engines are fairly bulletproof, especially the bottom ends. Look for signs of oil leakage around the valve cover.

Tools to have:

Although a complete set of tools is by far the best thing to have, including an engine hoist and drive-on ramps, you can make most repairs with the following:

Things the smart XR owner carries in the car: