Welcome to the premiere of my weekly series, “Caveat Emptor”, featuring intriguing cars I have found online for less than $5,000.
It’s fun to search for cars and see what you can buy for a limited budget. Many consumers find themselves looking in this price range, I’m here to help.
Time for the ground rules:
- The car must be listed on www.CARS.com or www.AutoTrader.com, www.Craigslist.com, or www.Bringatrailer.com.
- It must be for sale by the time this article comes out.
- It must be under $5,000.
- It can be any type of car. Bonus points for enthusiast cars.
- It must be for sale in the United States.
- Creativity (I know it when I see it) is welcomed.
- I’m open to submissions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ok so now that it is all clear, onto the car. This week’s winner of the first-ever $5,000 contest is a 1988 Merkur XR4Ti. Here’s the link, for sale on http://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/detail/651599491/overview/.
NOTE: Buyer Beware. This is not an endorsement of this particular car for sale. I have not driven it nor do I know the seller.
The Merkur XR4Ti was an oddball sports car developed by Ford and brought to the United States to compete with the European brands. Sold from 1985-1989 the Merkur XRT4i was never a huge sales success on this side of the pond.
We have Bob Lutz, head of Ford Europe at the time, to thank for the idea of selling the European Sierra XR4i as the Merkur at Mercury dealerships. During its journey across the ocean the Sierra gained a couple hundred pounds and they put a “T” (turbo) in its name. Ford replaced the Sierra XR4i’s V6 with a torquey 2.3-liter turbo in-line 4-cylinder, that makes 175 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, like some of us, the car peaked in 1985 when it was awarded a Car and Driver 10 Best trophy.
Unfortunately, like some of us, the car peaked in 1985 when it was awarded a Car and Driver 10 Best trophy.
Rear-wheel drive, manual transmission and a turbocharged engine sounds like a recipe for success, but lackluster sales led to the demise of Ford’s attack on the European brands. It’s low power output, poor reliability and funky styling didn’t make it a home run. If it had a BMW badge the story told could have been different. Most owners of the Merkur XRT4i had no idea of the car’s history or heritage.
This particular car is a 1988 Merkur XR4Ti; the 1988 model year was slightly different than the previous models. In 1988, it lost the iconic biplane spoiler that had brought fame to the Sierra RS Cosworth. This seller is asking $3,800, which just might be a great deal for a piece of automotive history. Having only 131,000 miles and a five-speed transmission, this could make a great daily driver.