I ran an '89 Scorpio from 1996 to 2001 in NY and PA. I put on about 35-40k in that time. I didn't drive it in the winters. It was squirrelly in the snow.
It was in decent condition as purchased and responded well to a bit of post-purchase renovation. Standard stuff for a 7 year old performance car -- brakes, bushings, struts, etc. Electrics were glitchy, but everything worked -- climate control, sunroof, seats, etc -- but only after a thorough cleaning of every electrical contact I could reach. It was a car that demanded some looking after.
Problems? Clogged sunroof drains dropped the headliner, the paint quality was iffy, the leather upholstery was extremely stiff and cracked easily no matter how much hide food was applied (front seats looked terrible and were uncomfortable without seat covers), and a couple of the factory alloy wheels went porous and lost air.
The 2.9 Cologne v-6 was very similar to the ones I'd seen in Ford Broncos and Rangers. They're sensitive to overheating, but mine was okay. Had a timing chain and hydraulic lifters if I remember correctly. Everything on that engine was an easy fix and parts were never a problem. Never had any problem with the trans either. Again it was a car that demanded maintenance.
The car was good for maybe 8.5 or 9 seconds to 60 mph and topped out around 125-130 mph. Not bad, but that was really not the point. What it was best at was keeping a high avg speed on longer trips-both interstate and secondary roads. It was quiet and comfortable with plenty of power and good road holding and brakes. It also returned decent mpg.
I sold it reluctantly in 2001 when I moved abroad. It served me well, but was not really a practical daily runner. More of a 'hobby' car even then.
A Scorpio awkward in snow? If you drive carefully, you can hear each wheel "gripping", as you drive along. Never had a problem there. Properly tuned, one will "top out" around 141/145mph. I know, I've done it many times and on 87 octane. MPG? Around 17 in town and 25/27 highway @ 70/75mph.
Maybe mine is exceptional. I am the second owner and has 33,335 original miles on it. What have I changed in the engine? A K&N air filter and a Flowmaster exhaust system.
I will be putting a G-FORCE chip in soon. That should raise the top end to around 160mph.
The speed isn't that important. It's finding quality parts and maintaining it the best you can. Use some Lexol leather conditioner for those seats and I think you'll see a big difference. There are many things you can do to improve a Scorpio and some are not that expensive.
The internet is the greatest source for Merkur parts. BAT, OPMD.COM and OEM PARTS HAUS are just a few. (Sounds like a commercial huh) I just know they have treated me fairly and promptly. They're good guys.
One thing I did do is, take that very heavy spoiler lip off. I'll bet that didn't help gas mileage. I've since put on a smaller, more fitting one and it looks good.
It has most everything a newer "luxury" car has, including reclining rear seats. It's quiet, comfortable and very fast and will maintain speed for long distances.
This is my 3rd one. The first was totaled, (thanks to a drunk driver). The second was stolen and never recovered. I'm keeping this one. Who knows what they will be worth one day. Besides, a Scorpio, or an XR4Ti looks like nothing else on the road. When a Porsche or a Rolls driver gives me the "Thumbs up", I know I must have done something right. LOL.
Around April last year (2012) I was on a car-auction site that I had been browsing for about 3 months, just waiting for the "right car" that looked wasn't being heavily bid on. While browsing the pages of junk metal and newer modern cars, I noticed a nice looking 4 door that said in the headline it said 1988 Merk, 88,000 miles, no battery, bad axle bearing. And no current bid...
At first I thought, oh... typo, Merk must be someone just entered Merc(ury) wrong.. but it was me who was wrong, and uninformed.... Never knew about Merkur before and was kinda blown away when I read about it... Turns out it is a '88 Merkur Scorpio, and by the way, in case you weren't doing the math, this year that car turned 25 so it's considered a classic now right?
I researched what I could in the 20 minutes before the auction, and decided it would be worth throwing some fix up money at it if I could get it cheap... the auction started and I watched and waited til the Merkur came up... Finally it's time to bid... I waited to see if someone would be the 1st bidder.. there was a $20 bid immediately, so I responded as quick as possible to 30.. then there was a pause.. and the other bidder went 40. Again as quick as I could click the mouse, I jumped to 50.... and I think the other bidder must've thought with my quick bidding that I might go a lot higher, and shockingly I won the bid at $50!!
All I had to do was pay for the $100 auction fee, paid around $200 for fuel when I drove 200 miles each way with a car trailer to pick up in Anchorage, bought a new battery and also paid to have it registered.. OK so now I have about 425 bucks into the whole car at this point...
Hooking up all the wires for the battery took a small amount of trial and error, but when I got it right, I had power to everything in the car except the radio, and I haven't gone into the dash yet to even see if it's hooked up.
When I looked further inside the car, in the glovebox there was a brand new carrier bearing for the driveline... and I assumed this is what the auction description meant when it said "bad axle bearing" because there doesn't seem to be any axle bearing issues right now! Needless to say, I really scored on this car, and I'm thinking the other bidders were afraid to bid either because it was a gamble if the car ran even after putting new battery in, or from all the negative comments about the Scorpio online.
I bid on it because it looked like an awesome car, and I love older/easier to work on cars. The pictures I saw online showed no battery, and the wires were all messed up looking... I had to rewire, or fix several of the accessory and terminal wires. After it was cleaned up and connected correctly, it started right up and I went for a test drive. Handling was great on the local winding, rough roads, and even better on the highway. The fuel economy computer told me I was getting 19-21 MPG when I was driving in town, and on a few road trips I was getting 29 MPG at 65mph. Got a DUI a few months ago so I can't drive right now and already I miss it... can't wait to drive the ol' girl soon!! I will probably never sell this car unless it gets to be more valuable... I've seen others recently online selling for something like $1200 and they were in good shape... would never get rid of this for a disgraceful amount like that...
This car is pimp, probably the nicest car I've had and it barely cost me anything so far. I'm really happy there's all this info on it and plenty of parts available online... plus I have the heads up on what common issues it has.