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 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, and he gave me a good bit of information from his then Washington 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 are pronounced "Mare-Coor," like the horse and the beer. Marketed as a Sierra in Germany, Ford was unable to utilize the name because of the Olds Ciera model here in the states, thus the Merkur nametag. The car utilized a Brazilian made Ford 4-cylinder engine, a turbocharger from Los Angeles, and an interior from Ford of England. When assembled in Germany, it made the Merkur truly an international flavor automobile. The XR4ti was produced in the calendar years 1985 - 1990, while the Scorpio had a run from 1987 - 1990.

Hope this information helps, and thanks for the nice comments. You have a unique Mercury on your hands, and since Ford is phasing out Mercury, 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, I contacted Bill Stamey, heavy-duty product engineering manager at Wix Filters. Bill is also an expert in high-performance and general auto applications, and he said 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 engine it makes a filter for.

Thus, all major filter designs, including those from Purolator, Fram, and many more, are good. Just remember if you would happen to buy an "off brand" that as long as the 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 is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions on anything automotive, from collector cars to the Daytona 500. Reach him at 116 Main St., Towanda, Pa. 18848 or email him at