by Davey G. Johnson, January 1, 2016
Thanks to Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” initiative, you can go out right now and buy a Focus that’s largely identical to the one your cousin Miroslav picked up last week in Novi Sad. But it wasn’t always that way. The Euro Fords to land on our shores were sparse and not always well-received. Case in point, Ford’s Cortina replacement, the landmark Sierra, was stuffed with a huffed Pinto motor and sent to the States on the Merkur exchange program, where it went by the name XR4Ti, because GMC had a lock in the Sierra name. In Europe, the Sierra was ubiquitous. In the States, it was a mere curio. But if you want a real curious XR4Ti, check out this Roush-built pace car.
It’s a 1986 model prepared, says the seller, for the running of the ’87 Detroit Grand Prix. While the regular XR4Ti shared an engine with the Mustang SVO, the Stang got an intercooler but the Merkur didn’t. Roush plopped the SVO’s powertrain into this one, giving it 180 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque. The suspension’s been upgraded with “special” Koni struts and high-rate springs. A full cage and racing belts were added due to the automobile’s intended purpose. It even features Jack Roush’s signature on the original title.
We added the XR4Ti to our 10Best list in 1985. We later apologized for its inclusion. While it wasn’t the BMW 3-series beater that Bob Lutz hoped it would be, its cult status lingers. And we won’t apologize for further propagating that.
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