The Popular Mechanics Merkur Blurb and Article Thread

General discussion relating to club happenings and items related to Merkurs in general such as "Merkur sightings". If you just signed on, please feel to start a new thread and introduce yourself here. Posts specifically regarding either the XR4Ti or Scorpio should go in those specific forums. Feel free to make suggestions on improving this forum here as well.
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anglin
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The Popular Mechanics Merkur Blurb and Article Thread

Post by anglin » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:54 pm

All,

Connie and I have been working very hard to unleash 10 years of accumulation of stuff since we got married. We've been moving through the house, one room at a time disposing, reorganizing and boxing up for the mother of all garage sales. We reached the attic a few days ago where I rediscovered my Popular Mechanics magazine collection from 1986 to 1993. Realizing that there had to be several mentions of the Merkurs in there, I flipped through every magazine from the proper time range and set aside the ones that mentioned a Merkur product. I'm sure I missed some, but I ended up with a handful of related articles and short columns.

The technology section is so entertaining. There is a lot of stuff that they got right and a lot that they got wrong. Some entertaining highlights:

- the 80s hybrid, the electric motors were in the wheel hubs, the gas motor generated electricity and drove the front wheels
- "filmless" cameras that recorded images on a magnetic storage disc; "Electronic Still Photography"
- "Marlboro Man" advertisements

So, I'll post the articles here as I have the opportunity to do so. The first article will follow shortly.

If anybody is interested in the magazines that don't have Merkur stuff (about 80 of them), I'll gladly ship them to you for the cost of shipping. They are just headed to the recycler.

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Post by anglin » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:00 pm

March 1987, "Inside Detroit" column by Jim Dunne on page 30:

No text, just a picture of the famed 1990 XR4Ti with the Cosworth grille (Merkur emblem centered in the grille mesh) and the hood scoop indicating the intercooler. It's not the spy photo everybody has seen, this is a different one, in color. The car is a light metallic blue and has a black cladding insert. The caption under the picture says "Merkur XR4Ti goes conservative with conventional grille, wing."

It appears to be this car, just not the same photo:

http://www.merkurtech.com/merkurtech/in ... 4ti002.jpg

Image

Edit: the picture I made reference to is now added:

Image
Last edited by anglin on Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by anglin » Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:50 pm

March 1987, "PM Owners Report, Merkur XR4Ti; Almost 2 million owner-driven miles add up to a lot of satisfied thrill-seekers in the Lincoln-Mercury camp" by Michael Lamm on page 71:

I'll be damned if I'm transposing this entire article. As soon as I get some OCR software and the interest, I'll post the full text. In the meanwhile, I'll post some highlights.
The Merkur XR4TI's greatest strength, obviously, lies in its ability to please the person behind the wheel.
Despite 175 turbocharged horses with the 5-speed (or 145 hp with the more recently released automatic), some owners felt the need for added power. "Needs more low-end torque," insisted an Alabama TV producer, "like a turbo V6 with different gearing." Several drivers suggested added an intercooler to the turbocharger, as on the Mustang SVO.
To its credit, the XR4Ti definitely turns heads. Many owners appreciate that, especially since styling was the first thing that tempted them. A Michigan businesswoman and consultant told us, "Nobody else around here has one, so I really enjoy the stares other drivers give the car. It's one fun aspect of the Merkur - a sign of success - and that's important to a woman with her own business.
Several respondents also worried aloud about the XR4Ti's eventual resale value, among them this California aerospace worker: "I'm somewhat concerned," he wrote, "because the Merkur doesn't seem to be selling all that well."
It would sell better, felt an Ohio engineer, "if the Merkur were wearing a badge that said Porsche or Audi or BMW. I'm positive it would be a smashing success that way."
Ironically, even some XR4Ti owners don't really know what they have. A Massachusetts photographer scribbled the following note on the bottom of his questionaire: "This is the first American [!] car I've ever owned. If more cars like the Merkur were available from US dealers, many people would probably buy American over foreign." This guy obviously has no idea that his car came from Ford of Germany, with the body built by Karmann and the engine made in Brazil!
Here is the "Summary of Merkur XR4Ti Owners Reports:"
Total miles driven: 1,881,528

Average miles per gallon
5-speed manual:
- In town 19.9
- On the highway 25.0
3-speed automatic
- In town 18.0
- On the highway 22.9

Option choices:
- Power windows and door locks 97.3%
- Moonroof 69.2%
- Heated front seats 59.1%
- Leather upholstery 25.6%

Why did you choose the Merkur?
- Styling 69.4%
- Performance 40.6%
- Handling 22.8%
- Quality 14.4%
- Good price 12.2%

Specific likes:
- Styling 61.9%
- Handling 54.7%
- Performance 43.1%
- Comfort 40.3%
- Power 26.4%
- Ride 23.3%

Specific dislikes:
- Hard to shift 19.0%
- No complaints 14.1%
- Fuel mileage lower than expected 6.3%
- Noises and rattles 5.3%
- Not enough power 4.9%

What shanges would you like?
- Improve the shifter 18.2%
- Make cruise control available 14.9%
- No changes 12.5%
- Add intercooler to turbo 8.1%
- More horsepower 7.1%

How much did you pay?
- Average $17,563
- Range $14,900 - $21,000

Workmanship opinion:
- Excellent 74.5%
- Good 23.3%
- Average 1.8%
- Poor 0.3%

Comfort opinion:
Front seats:
- Excellent 80.5%
- Good 18.0%
- Average 1.2%
- Poor 0.3%
Rear seats:
- Excellent 59.9%
- Good 38.6%
- Average 1.6%
- Poor 0.0%

Had any mechanical trouble:
- Yes 57.4%
- No 42.6%

What type of trouble?
- Air conditioning 17.8%
- Transmission 14.1%
- Electrical system 11.1%
- Instrumentation 8.4%
- Door locks 7.3%
- Brake lamps 6.8%

Dealer repairs satisfactory?
- Yes 67.9%
- No 32.1%

Dealer service opinion:
- Excellent 31.2%
- Good 40.7%
- Average 20.9%
- Poor 7.1%

Number of vehicles owned:
- This car only 25.4%
- Two cars 39.6%
- Three cars 21.1%
- Four or more cars 13.8%

Makes of other cars owned:
- Ford 33.3%
- Mercury 19.5%
- Chevrolet 13.8%
- Honda 8.5%
- Volkswagen 7.3%

Would you by a Merkur again?
- Yes 70.2%
- No 3.3%
- Maybe 26.5%

Would you by another Lincoln-Mercury product?
- Yes 44.8%
- No 13.0%
- Maybe 42.2%

Age distribution of owners:
- Under 29 years 16.3%
- 30-49 years 64.2%
- 50-plus 19.5%
The article also refers to two other PM articles on the XR4Ti:

- 10 Best Cars of 1986 (page 95 from April 1986)
- Long Term Test Report (page 88 from April 1986)

The article had pictures of an 85 XR, complete with the early upholstry and manual windows.

Edit: the scan of the results is now added:

Image
Last edited by anglin on Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by anglin » Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:03 pm

July 1987, "Imports" column by Bill Hartford on page 10:
FoMoCo strikes again. The Scorpio just went on sale here and already it's a winner: It comes from Europe with the Car of the Year award for 1986, and over a dozen other honors. The German-built Eurolux touring sedan is one of the few cars to offer the astounding versatility of a hatch back built into a 4-door sedan - all while appearing to be a notchback. As owners of Saab's 9000 and Mazda's 626 5-door know, this configuration is unbeatable for practicality - and no sacrifice of performance or sportiness is required. The Scorpio has everything you'd want packed into a single chassis. It's a mid-$20,000, aerodynamic, 3-liter, fuel-injected, 144-hp V6-powered, antilock brakes-equipped rear-drive sedan that offers optional leather seats; power moonroof; 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission; touring package and long-legged comfort for five. On rough roads, 4-wheel i.s. and a soothing 7.7 in. of wheel travel keep the seat of your pants where it belongs. At 3240 pounds, the Scorpio's a solid setup. We've alread got staff miles on this one and we'll be logging more.
Apparently the writer had to cram this article down a little bit to make everything fit in his space. It makes sense, but I've never seen independent suspension written as just "i.s.".

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Post by Slinky » Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:14 pm

Interesting articles. Thanks!

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Post by EVIL_XR4 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:52 pm

That hood is really cool looking but i wonder if it would be effective. Too bad it never made production, i want that grill!! :lol:

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Post by milehighXR » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:03 pm

anglin wrote:March 1987, "PM Owners Report, Merkur XR4Ti; Almost 2 million owner-driven miles add up to a lot of satisfied thrill-seekers in the Lincoln-Mercury camp" by Michael Lamm on page 71:

I'll be damned if I'm transposing this entire article. As soon as I get some OCR software and the interest, I'll post the full text. In the meanwhile, I'll post some highlights.
My all in one came with enough software to scan my stuff and save as JPGs, or PDFs. How old is your scanner?
Johnny


1 86 XR aka Naomi- my first love, now project car
1 14 black Fiesta SE aka Fiona- my new DD

DCLXVI

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Post by anglin » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:26 pm

I was moderately discouraged by the effort to interest ratio with the historical Popular Mechanics article postings, so I took some time off. The scanner was fired up this evening so I took the opportunity to scan the PM magazine pages that contained references to the Merkurs. Out of that collection I grabbed a couple pics that are moderately interesting and worth posting here.

Here's the owners report results. I have most of the data here already, but the whole thing is worth the update. I'll be adding it to the original post too, so you'll see it in two places on this page.

Image
Here's the 1990 XR4Ti that never was - another angle of the picture above. Again, I'll add this picture to that post too.

Image

And perhaps the most intriguing of them all, the Bondurant Skid Car... If I'm reading this correctly and excessively overextending the anything implied, the first ever hydraulic skid car was an XR4Ti. Article text and picture below.

Image

Image

And there's your pseudo-history lesson for the day. Way less effort on my part; way more enjoyment on yours.

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Post by DPDISXR4Ti » Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:42 am

Hmmm, I must have missed this thread on the first go-around. I had never seen that color shot of the "1990 test mule". I would agree, it is the same car as the black&white shot also shown above. Kinda ironic that they use that car to highlight the new "conservative styling, making no mention at all of the "conservative hood scoop". :P
Brad

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Post by anglin » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:34 pm

DPDISXR4Ti wrote:Kinda ironic that they use that car to highlight the new "conservative styling, making no mention at all of the "conservative hood scoop". :P
Yup, kind of a weird take on the subject. From reading all of the articles which I could find that PM wrote on the subject, there are a handful of odd statements like that which don't seem to add up. The way it's written, I'm assuming that they thought it had the scoop there all along!

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Post by John Brennan » Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:20 am

And yet they call themselves "Popular Mechanics"-- so you'd think they'd pay attention to the, um... well... the mechanics of the car, no?
This is my car, and these are my people!
1989 XR4Ti 5-Speed
2001 BMW Z3 3.0 5-Speed
2015 Fiesta ST 6-Speed
2015 Edge 3.5 V6 Auto/Paddles

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Post by Rooster » Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:39 pm

nice find.... I want that windshield banner that is on that bond car....
-Rooster..
1985 Merkur XR4Ti "New plan"
1986 Merkur XR4Ti Stock, Low miles unmodded will be that way 4ever
1989 Merkur Scorpio white and Tan "Casper" Daily Driven
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Great articles

Post by salukixr4ti » Thu Apr 24, 2008 9:13 am

I love looking over articles from the period like this - it really puts things into perspective on how good the car really could have been. Too bad really, as it came back to things like brand recognition, marketing, and dealerships all too often being inadequate. The debate as to how the car should have been equipped could rage forever, but it was a really capable car against just about anything in the same category of car. Still, it seems like a tragedy, but now just adds to the uniqueness of the marque. I just appreciate mine that much more.
This ain't no disco...It's Wichita.

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Post by $KRILLA » Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:32 pm

Great find~

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Post by anglin » Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:56 pm

$KRILLA wrote:Great find~
Word. I'm glad I took the time to look through all of the magazines.

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