1988 Merkur XR4Ti 2.3 turbo 4 banger from North America


Best car I have ever owned


Not much has gone wrong with this car.

Door handle broke.

Spotting of rust, but it's an 88.

Starter went out at 42000 miles.

General Comments:

This car rocks. I have had it to 130 MPH on corners and straight aways. It handles excellent, love the car. That 2.3 turbo 4 banger from the Mustangs rocks - always has, always will.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd February, 2009

1988 Merkur XR4Ti 2.3L inline 4 turbo from North America


Great bang for the buck in a sporty package


Scrapes hell out of the front spoiler.

Faulty cruise control.

Poor A/C unit.

General Comments:

This American paid close attention in its German foreign language class - a great car.

It's very ergonomic, even without good A/C.

Power windows, sun/moonroof, and openable rear windows make it better ventilated than most 80's cars.

Fun to drive, but has excess body roll.

Well balanced to drive, like a poor-man's BMW.

Heated front seats come in handy on those cold winter days.

Needs more power/less body roll to really shine. Cosworth should've taken a more active roll in American Merkur development.

On the upside, the turbo and relatively standard make of the engine make it an extremely easy engine to tune for power. For around $310 US, you can buy a chip that'll up it 80 horse, making it 255hp, 290lb/ft.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th July, 2003

1988 Merkur XR4Ti 2.3L turbo from North America


If working properly will be an awesome little 4 banger!


I have not had this too long. I have had a large number of problems in the first month of Ownership.

#1 Overheating.

#2 Low Coolant light is on. Coolant Full.

#3 Rod not connected to turbo.

#4Turbo Leaking oil out seal.

#5 Needed only 2 rear wheel cylinders to pass safety inspection.

#6 Rear hatch won't open.

#7. Turbo is now blown and under replacement. (removing it all together)

A/C Not working (No belt.)

Fuel gage works whenever it likes.

Door panel has a hole in it.

Radio works like crap Bad reception.

General Comments:

Nice car has lots of Zip!

Needs a turbo and until I can afford it I will take it off.

What else can you expect for a car I got for 1200.00 AS IS and has sat for 1 1/2 years.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th July, 2003

1988 Merkur XR4Ti 2.3 turbo from North America


Unique performance and design with uncommon practicality


Radiator had to be replaced. Too expensive from Ford, so I went aftermarket.

Original clutch, but it engages in only the last inch of play. It's not slipping yet though.

Did I mention it was totalled? About four years ago in the middle of the summer, I was eating a taco while seated in the car which was parked on a side street, head down reading an Edgar Allen Poe story. Saw a shadow come across my book. Looked up and saw a semi trailer garbage truck backing up, getting close... But, I figured he saw me so, back to Poe. Still heard him coming, looked up, screamed, honked horn just as the back end of the trailer rode up over my hood crushing that, pushed the fenders back, mushed the headlights... You all know the retail value of these cars, especially one with 150,000 miles on it as mine did! When he realized I was there and stopped crushing me, we both got out, made some "darn" and "wow" comments, traded names and moved on. The car was drivable - maybe not at night - but I got home and started doing some realistic checking on a "car to replace the XR4ti." Hadn't had a car payment for years, and I figured that if I was going to have one, the car better at least perform as well as the Merkur or I wouldn't be happy. Drove some used BMW's. No turbos on them so they felt anemic in comparison. A used Mercedes was also gutless. I wasn't satisfied with the build quality of anything used

American. The decision was easy after I saw these options. I loved the car. Lots of idiosyncrasies, but, dash gammit, nothing had all the features, performance and practicality at ANY PRICE!

The cost of the hood alone was going to total the car after I started getting estimates to repair it! To make a long story short, the garbage company owner also owned a body shop. We made a deal. They would fix it up if I wouldn't make any claim. They found a front clip with all the parts needed and redid it quite well. Looked good. Actually probably better because it was starting to have the usual rust eruptions.

Driven it almost 70,000 more miles.

Heat output in the winter in our Midwest area has always been less than stellar. Probably didn't help much when I put some Bars Leak into the leaking radiator and I think it settled in the heater core. So, I put a large fan-powered water radiator heater core unit (whatever those are called), branched off my water lines to the heater core and have water lines to and from this unit. Get's good and toasty now. Nobody can sit on one side of the back seat, but nobody ever has anyway!

ALL my lights on the dash have burnt out. Took the dash apart, the lights out, and went to a Ford dealer to see what it was going to cost to get new ones. Ha. Bolted it back in without lights. Now I carry a small flashlight in the door pocket to view when I need to (I wish I would have had the dash lights two nights ago when it overheated in stop-and-go rush our in Minneapolis. IF I would have seen it getting so hot, I would have turned on all my heaters and opened up the windows. Probably would have worked). And yes, those who know will be asking why my fan in front didn't automatically come on. Because I unplugged it, OK? It wouldn't shut off last spring, so I just disconnected it. When you are moving, you don't need it. It's just those rush hour times. Man, am I glad I didn't have my wife with me. Can you imagine what she would have been thinking? Car starts steaming. Pull over. Find small flashlight to look at dash (it was dark out). Get out. Loosen cap. Check to see if AAA card is expired. Would have been a quiet ride home, no?

Had the rear driver's side CV joint go out at maybe 125,000.

General Comments:

I love this car still. When you know what it can do (good acceleration, OK braking, neat design, great comfort, good mileage) and what it can't (operate coolly in stop and go, move well in snow, stop well on ice, offer ease of and low cost repairs and maintenance), there STILL is no affordable alternative!

M3! Maybe if you sell your aunt. Other BMW's? Gonna cost you at least a cousin. But those are the cars you need to look at to match this whole car's package.

Any Merkur aficionado is going to agree with me. Any non-Merkur enthusiast is going to wave this off. Maybe I would too IF I hadn't lived with mine as long as I have. Now, the recent overheating DOES have me thinking, but I also have to admit, this is my winter car. I drive an '85 Porsche factory Turbo-Look 911 (30?) from April to November. IF I find a car for winters that has any value, am I going to want to drive it in our sodium chloride enhanced roads of western Wisconsin and Minnesota? NO!

So I hang onto my performing Merkur because it performs, and (go ahead - finish the statement) it has NO VALUE in the used market! I am just smiling as I type this because I know I am saying what we are all going to have to admit. Nobody wants an Edsel because it performs. Not too many people can afford a Ferrari that does. But it is us lucky few that have experienced the XR4ti package and know there still is nothing to replace it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th December, 2002

16th May 2010, 12:42

Man.. I have got to comment on this review. That is some good material. Couldn't stop laughing.

As far as my 89 XR goes... I wish I still had it. A straightforward easy to work on road rally machine. I took it up to 140 mph a few times, and that being almost stock before the upgrades.

It was quite stable. Could've used more rubber though. Those wheels just were not wide enough.

Surprised a few M3's back in the day.

Well.. the car got boosted and ended up in some LA junkyard... probably got sold for a couple of 40 oz's knowing who my roomates were at the time.

Anybody lucky enough to find a burgundy 89.. it has a Tremec t-5 conversion with a short throw, and a two piece custom drive shaft that's worth a few bucks. Good memories.