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If you know, then you know...

If not, you may be one of the many who ask, "What the hell was that?" when you see a Scorpio or an XR4Ti drive by.  Looking vaguely like a Ford Escort, the XR4Ti was the original Merkur.  Made in then "West" Germany and imported to Ford Lincoln Mercury dealers, the North American badging of the Ford Sierra attained just a small cult following in its short existence. 

As the cars were sold by the Lincoln-Mercury division of Ford, they were a well-kept secret, and with a turbocharged 2.3 litre engine, they had their share of pep that went relatively unnoticed.  For the most part, the Lincoln-Mercury division served its purpose selling huge boats with seating that felt like the old chesterfield to a geriatric set who could barely see over the steering wheel.

Given the seemingly small market for XR4Ti's in North America, Ford tried again by bring over a "more mature" car, the Merkur Scorpio, in late 1987.  The Scorpio, known as the Ford Scorpio in Europe and billed as the Mark 2 Granada in the U.K., had already attained "car of the year" status in Europe, so Ford execs thought it would be a sure boost to their lineup if they added it.  This idea was, however, before its time.  Ford were branding these high-end European cars with the Merkur badge long before Toyota had their Lexus brand and Honda had the Acura badge.  As a result, the experiment failed miserably from a marketing standpoint, and Ford never did try again (instead, they bought into other companies, right?  Volvo, Kia, Mazda, and Jaguar are all in Ford's hands, so what more do they need?)

What this left people with were orphaned cars, a lack of support from Ford, and a small but tight-knit group of people who were really passionate about their cars.  After all, the XR4Ti and Scorpio are considered by many to be some of the finest specimens of car that they have encountered.  Sure, they are both HATCHBACKS, an evil word in North America, but the XR4Ti continues to live on as a hot racing machine, and the Scorpio is still a more comfortable and feature-rich touring sedan than many cars on the market today!

Equipped with ABS (in 1988!!!), Connolly leather heated seating (power seats in front AND back!!!), a fuel computer, fold-down rear seats, power windows, locks, and sunroof, as well as a 2.9 litre V6, the Scorpio's amenities hold up well even 14 years after their manufacture.

What kind of crazy-ass people own these cars?  Not many, as it is estimated that only 22,000 Scorpios made their way into North America in their two model years of importation.

Although many joke that people with Merkurs have to be mechanics, crazy, or lovers of junkyards, owning one can be an "educational experience", or a nightmare, depending on how you look at it.  The cars, being almost as old as the next generation of drivers to hit the road, have their quirks (to put it mildly).  Common failures include trunk locks, rear wiper motors, heater blower fans, dash instrumentation and bulbs, as well as the dreaded GUIBO!

What the fuck is a guibo?  It's also known as a driveline coupling, and seems to only exist in German rear-wheel drive cars (ask a BMW owner - they may know what a Guibo is!!!)

Apparently, when the Guibo goes, a replacement can be found at a parts place with access to BMW guibos for much cheaper than anyone foolish enough to take their car to a Ford shop for repair (they habitually suggest a complete drivetrain overhaul, costing hundreds of dollars more than the actual repair really should...but what would you expect from a company who orphaned a line of cars after two years?!?).

Here are some Merkur things that I have written:

The DIY Merkur antenna job...
Now that it's spring, the Merkur has heat!

Here are some Merkur links (there will be nothing new here for those of you who have Merkurs and live and breathe online with your fellow Merkur owners):

Merkur Tech.com
Merkur Encyclopedia
A4ld.com
XR4Ti.com
Paul's Scorpio Pages
Merkur Desktop
An Open Mind Inc.
Yahoo! Groups - Merkur Scorpio

Here are some Merkur owners' groups:

Alberta Merkur Club
Bay Area Merkur Owners
Michigan Merkur Owners Network
Northern Virginia Merkur Owners Group
Northstar Merkur Owners
Northwest US Merkur Club
PacWest Merkur Owners
SE Louisiana Merkur Owner's
Southern Alberta Merkur Association
Southern Ontario Merkur Owners
St. Louis Area Merkur Owners'
Western Ohio Merkur Owners
 

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