Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Ich bin eine Furt! Warum magst du mich nicht?!"

"Ich bin eine Furt! Warum magst du mich nicht?!"
Poor little Sierra. Handbuilt, quick, sporty, and modern all sound like the sorts of traits that make a car popular. That's not the way it went down with this little punk though . . .

This is a 1988-1989 Merkur XR4Ti in Diamond White. To the rest of the world this is a Ford Sierra XR4Ti. The name breakdown is as follows: eXperimental, Racing, 4th generation, Turbocharged, fuel Injected.
These cars were each hand built by the Karmann Coachworks GmbH (kind of German for LLC) in Rheine, Germany. This is the same firm that collaborated with Ghia on the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Merkur as a company was founded to try and woo back buyers of American luxury brands that were heading towards BMW and Audi. However with only the above hatchback and a luxury sedan called the Scorpio brought over from Europe there was never much excitement or sales. The plug was pulled on Merkur just 4 years in. 
 The Sierra was popular in Europe and ran from 1982-1993. Several body styles were available in 3, 4, and 5 door configurations. There was even a van! The U.S. only got this 3 door hatch.
I blame this person even more than Debbie Wasserman Schultz for putting a Bernie 2016 sticker under the bad omen of a Merkur emblem. Go back to Maine!
This example is in shockingly good condition. The earlier 1985-1987 XR4Ti had a double wing in the back with the higher one about 5 inches above the lower.
 The U.S. spec cars had a turbocharged 2.3 Liter 4 cylinder in the as opposed to the 2.8 Liter V6 in the European Cosworth version. The Cosworth Sierra was fast, boasting a top speed of 150 mph! There was also a 1.6 Liter engine available in Europe only that boasted 51 miles to the gallon. That's getting into Prius territory.
This one is fitted with the 5 speed manual transmission which means it's probably a lot of fun to drive. Behold the manual Lumbar Support adjustment dial on the side of the seat; 1980s!
Well that's where I'll leave this little oddity. Like many automotive footnotes this ride found itself the butt of jokes. However unlike other punchline rides there's no real tragedy to pin its failure on. It never blew up like the Pinto, wasn't horribly made like the Yugo, or had a spectacular and criminal scandal like the DeLorean. No, this little car is more like the Edsel; introduced to great fanfare and quieted shown the door within a few years. To see one now is like seeing the future, 1980s style.

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