Nov
15
1987 Mercury Merkur Rapido XR4Ti

1987 Mercury Merkur Rapido XR4Ti

For this ’80s Flashback, we’re really going “deep ’80s.” Remember the Merkur XR4Ti, Ford Motor Company’s “captive import”? Merkur was the short-lived American-market version of the European Ford Sierra, which was built in Germany. It was sold in Lincoln-Mercury dealers and lasted just five model years in the U.S.—from 1985 to ’89. The short lifespan is not surprising; it’s hard to imagine the über-Euro Merkur luring many Continental or Grand Marquis intenders, and those shoppers who could be swayed had a hard time justifying a $17,000 XR4Ti over a well-equipped $14,000 Mercury Sable LS.

So, any Merkur was scarce then and much scarcer now. But let’s get really obscure—all-but-forgotten B-side obscure—and unearth another gem from our Consumer Guide photo archives: the aftermarket-tuned Rapido Merkur XR4Ti.

The Rapido Group, then in Placentia, California, could outfit a Merkur with the best in Euro-inspired performance and appearance upgrades. Rapido still exists today, serving what must be a pretty small group of Merkur enthusiasts, but these shots are all real-deal late ’80s vintage stuff.

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Merkur Rapido XR4Ti

A “rear styling panel” with a Turbo emblem ran between the stock Merkur taillights, which necessitated relocating the license plate to the bumper. A monoplane wing replaced the distinctive two-tiered stock piece. The performance exhaust system’s prominent tips lend a gutsier look.

 

Merkur Rapido XR4Ti

Back in the day, Rapido offered three stages of upgrades. Stage I included the intercooler kit, a monoplane wing, anti-sway bars, and a wheel and tire upgrade. Stage II added the rear styling panel, some leather interior-trim bits, and a front-end “bra.” Stage III added high-performance exhaust, a larger rear anti-sway bar, gas-pressurized struts and shocks, sport springs, a 150-mph speedometer, and Goodyear Eagle VR tires. (Remember when Goodyear “Gatorbacks” were the high-performance street tire?)

 

Merkur Rapido XR4Ti

An intercooler kit for the Merkur’s turbocharger and a performance exhaust system were Rapido’s primary powertrain upgrades.

 

Merkur Rapido XR4Ti

Rapido offered several wheel-upgrade options, which to us look to be then-current designs from aftermarket makers such as BBS, Fittipaldi, and Enkei.

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