Cars We Remember: Mercury Merkur history and oil filter selection

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The Mercury Merkur was a sportscar like vehicle with a host of international parts making up the final Mercury expression. The Merkur came in two versions, XR4ti and Scorpio and were sold from 1985 to 1990. (Ad courtesy of Ford Motor Company)

Mercury Merkur owner seeks car’s history

Q: Greg, I recently bought a 1986 Mercury Merkur XR4ti and was wondering if you ever reported on this vehicle? Can you tell me about the heritage of this car? I enjoy your column. Gerald W., e-mail from Pennsylvania.

A: Yes, Gerald, I drove several Merkurs during the car’s heyday, and I have to admit it was a great car and much fun to drive. I contacted at that time Ford Motor Company’s Bill Day, who worked closely with the Merkur at Mercury and helped launch the car. He gave me a good bit of information from his Washington, D.C.-based Ford Public Affairs office.

The Merkur came in two models, the XR4ti (coupe) and the Scorpio (sedan). The cars were produced by Ford of Germany (Merkur means Mercury in German) and the name is pronounced “Mare-Coor,” like the horse and the popular beer beverage.

Marketed as a Sierra in Germany, Ford was unable to utilize the name because of the Oldsmobile Ciera copyright here in the states, thus the Merkur nametag. The car utilized a Brazilian made Ford four-cylinder engine, a turbocharger from Los Angeles, and an interior from Ford of England. As it was assembled in Germany, the Mercury Merkur truly became an international flavor automobile.

The XR4ti was built in calendar years 1985 to 1990, while the Scorpio had a run from 1987 to 1990. It was also a dominating force in SCCA racing, winning the Bendix Trans-Am manufacturer championship in 1987 thanks to engine master and Ford racing wizard Jack Roush, who was still two years away from entering NASCAR Cup racing with Mark Martin.

Hope this information helps, and thanks for the nice comments. You have a unique Mercury on your hands, and since Ford has since phased out Mercury from its marketing, it could turn out to be a “keeper” for sure.

Oil filter information

Q: I’ve noticed that oil filters have all different size holes (on the top where you spin it on), and most every company has its’ own filter design.

How do the holes effect the oiling of my car and are designs with different oil hole designs OK for my car? William M., Fort Ashby, West Virginia.

A: William, awhile back I contacted Wix Filters and was told by then-heavy-duty product engineer Bill Stamey that as long as the inlet holes (in the filter) exceed the area of the outlet (hole) from the stud of engine block (to which you spin the filter on), there will be no loss in differential pressure across the plate itself. Wix makes sure the holes exceed the outlet engine stud hole for every filter it makes for the many different engines.

Thus, all major filter designs, including those from Wix, Purolator, Fram, and many more, are A-OK. Overall, as long as the oil filter holes do not restrict the oil flow from the engine block through the filter and back again into the engine for another round of lubrication, you’ll be fine.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now, and other GateHouse Media publications and welcomes reader questions on collector cars to the Daytona 500. Reach him at 116 Main St., Towanda, PA 18848 or at


Greg Zyla

Greg Zyla

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