Unbelievable excitement ensues as two Seattleites prepare for a baby!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Chris' Object of Automotive Desire - 1/12

At the prodding of Shane and John, I've bumped up the Merkur XR4Ti and its hot-rod English twin, the Ford Sierra Cosworth, into today's slot from its position in the queue.

Thanks to a combination of a weird name, poor marketing, curiously bulbous looks (which, of course, I find irresistible), the versatility but odd looks of a hatchback, and a unique biplane rear wing that seemed awfully cool to me as a nine-year-old, the Merkur was looked upon by the American market much as townsfolk look at Frankenstein - as a bizarre, deformed, hideous monster to be approached only with great caution and, preferably, torches and pitchforks.

In Europe, however, the Sierra Cosworth was a hero car - comfortable, sexy, fast, and with a rich competition pedigree that bolstered Ford's European performance heritage for years.

A few years ago, I nearly bought a Merkur XR4Ti. It was listed in the Charlotte Observer for $1,200. The owner said it hadn't been driven, registered, or inspected for a year or two; the engine sounded as if the oil sump as full of gravel; and the exhaust was festively streaked with white smoke, legacy, no doubt, of a variety of blown seals or gaskets.
But even in that horrific shape, the Merkur was very quick - the turbo spooled up rapidly, and the car leapt forward with a surprising haste. Even on completely knackered shocks, it still handled well. Had I had more money for maintenance, I may very well have bought that Merkur - and probably thoroughly hated them today.


Anonymous Juan Don said...

Between work, sleep, and caring for your insanely adorable child, I'm glad that you've found time to write about one of the best cars to come out of the 80's. I see fewer and fewer XR4Ti's on the road these days, and no doubt it's because shrewd collectors are snapping up these gems! Have you considered the early-90's Infiniti G20 for a COaOD feature? One man's gussied up sentra is another man's pseudo-luxurious charriot of the gods.
Lastly, I vote in favor of renaming this feature to Chris Hafner's Automotive Fetishes Elucidated.

8:34 PM

Blogger Chris Hafner said...

Yes, indeed - in no way could the diminishing number of Merkurs on the road be linked to their legendary unreliability. I would join you in guessing that they are being hoarded by jealous collectors.

I may have to do a G20 as a feature - but perhaps as Rod's Object of Automotive Desire. Or maybe Rod's Object of Automotive Attainment.

5:42 PM


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