First was the XR4Ti, now comes the Scorpio to the US under the Merkur moniker.
Again this is from R&T’s 40th anniversary issue. And yes, we all know it’s a Ford underneath.
An ugly weird looking car with an ugly name and too high of a price tag. No wonder they didn’t sell well. Why anyone would get one over a cougar or marquis is beyond me. It looks too foreign and bizarre looking. What we’re they thinking???
Not at all ugly or weird and not foreign *enough*. As Pedro illustrates below, it looked like a near-identical twin to the Sable for substantially more money.
While I liked the nose of the XR4ti, I also liked the four door sedan version. I find it unforgivable that a station wagon version was never offered here in North America.
The Scorpio and XR4Ti were aimed at people who would never remotely consider buying a Marquis or Cougar. It did look too much like a Sable and word of the XR4Ti’s abysmal reliability was already damaging Merkur sales when the Scorpio came along.
A local business owner in my parents’ neighborhood had two Scorpios at once. For some reason, they always have at least five vehicles at their house. A couple of them are SUVs, which were Landcruisers back in the day and are now Suburbans or Yukons. The Merkurs were replaced with a series of Saabs, right up to the last of the line 9-5s. Now they have a bunch of new BMWs. Hopefully, their BMW ownership will have the same outcome as their Merkur and Saab ownership.
I’m guessing you don’t like the Saab 9000 either? I love this car, it’s very european looking. Clean elegant and a bit quirky with that curved hatch window and full length tail lights. Beautiful, much more than say a cougar/Marquis form the same year which were a lot more dated, and dated looking.
I don’t find a Saab one bit attractive, but I do consider the marquis and cougar beautiful and timeless. The merquer is beyond ugly.
They were thinking beyond the curve that Mercury headed for and Lincoln is headed for now…DEATH! Too bad Americans were saddled to ugly squishy machines with no guts. The Scorpio was a FANTASTIC car only saddled with people that think like….well…you.
I don’t know what’s the purpose of the Ford Motor Company’s decision of bringing the Merkur Scorpio in the U.S. when we already have its near identical twin the Mercury Sable both in 1986?
While you may think the Sable and Scorpio look the same, they were different in many ways. One had FWD while the other had RWD….back then, FWD was associated with “economy cars”. One was a hatchback (admittedly not what buyers were looking for in that price range) while the other was a 4 door sedan or wagon.
But what was the central thrust of the Scorpio was that it was a car designed and built in Germany….the country that brought us M-B, BMW, and VW.
Apparently it has escaped your notice that in their ads, VW STRONGLY emphasizes it’s GERMAN engineering…..and NOT it’s “made in Mexico” or “made for Americans by Americans”.
Scorpio was launched at a time when the 3 series was THE car to own.
Sure, they were very different cars…but the Sable arrived two years before the Scorpio in North America and was instantly a hit…and the two cars had to share showroom space. Therefore, the potential Scorpio buyer was more likely to think “that Scorpio is nice, but it looks like a Sable” rather than the other way around.
It’s sort of like the downsized GM E/K body cars in 1986 that looked too much like the N-body compacts launched in 1985. If the E/K had arrived first and the N-body second, there would probably have been a lot less criticism of its design. Neither car was at all attractive, but at least people wouldn’t have been asking why Buick’s flagship looks like their compact.
Guess they wanted to lure the yuppies away from their BMWs and Benzes, maybe?
GM also tried that with the Chevrolet Cavalier based Cadillac Cimarron which also bombed out as well since the latter became more like an overpriced Cavalier and there is no hiding the fact that it was a Cadillac badge Cavalier. Those same yuppies continued to purchase the BMW 3 Series even though the Cimarron was similar in size with the BMW 3 Series.
The 3-series and Cimarron’s only shared characteristics were the dimensions. The Cimarron was front wheel drive and the 3-series was not. The 3-series was fabulously well built but austere; the Cimarron the reverse. No BMW customers looked seriously at the Cimarron. Maybe they might have considered Saab or a used Porsche. At that point BMW made sport sedans and that class was quite small. These days everyone seems to pretend to sell sport sedans. Which one actually is, without looking crass?
…”These days everyone seems to pretend to sell sport sedans. Which one actually is, without looking crass?”…
The E-segment Maserati Ghibli (below) and the F-segment Quattroporte ?
I spotted two new Ghiblis recently, what a stunning beauty of a sedan! At least there are still people who dare to go beyond the Most Obvious Trio.
You have hit the nail on the head. The XR4ti and the Scorpio were devised as a way to get buyers who wouldn’t buy a Mercury or Lincoln to head into their local L-M dealer.
Everyone commends Acura for selling cars in a new segment for the Japanese: near luxury vehicles, but it could be said that Merkur beat Acura to the concept. The Sable, by the way, didn’t compete with the Legend, and folks managed to buy enough Integras to make them (temporarily?) more successful than the Acura brand.
My point being, that just because a car company builds 2 or more cars that look alike but are not priced alike, does not necessarily mean customers are the same for both.
The Scorpio, to beat a dead horse into the ground, may have looked like a Sable but I doubt the potential customer for a Scorpio decided on a Sable….since it appeared to be about the same car but at a cheaper price. They probably went from test driving a Scorpio to the BMW or VW dealer.
Superficially the Merker/Ford Scorpio and Mercury Sable look similar. However, the Merkur is made with deeper draft steel pressings which gives the car a more substantial look even if one doesn’t know quite how this effect is achieved. The Sable looks flimsy because the pressings are shallow and that means cheap. The details on the Merkur are all more refined. Notice the return flange on the Merkur’s rear bumper whereas the Sable has none, making the part look less rigid and much less substantial. Notice the area forward of the mirror. On the Merkur you don’t notice the vertical shutline whereas it’s glaring on the Sable. While it’s sadly true Euro cars perform badly in the US (in Europe the Scorpio/Granada had a good reputation) they are often styled and manufactured with a lot of attention to detail so at least they look nice while stalled on your driveway.
For me the silly aspect of the Merkur was the name. Did Ford think customers would believe that Europeans drove Merkurs? No, we had plain old Fords, just like you in the US.
Merkur was created by the automotive industry’s biggest Yutz, Bob Lutz. Aside from this wonderful action, his claim to fame was that he was at Chrysler when there was the cab forward design philosophy – he tried to steal credit for it but that was already underway when he arrived. Heir Yutz is famous for padding his resume (and something else) while eschewing any responsibilities for his numerous failures. And this is the same Heir Yutz that helped to drive GM into the ground with his buttmunch old Bob Wagoneer.
Yeah, I’ve always thought Lutz was a bit of a blowhard…but so was Iaccoca and some of Lutz’s other bosses..
That mercury looked like a blob compared to the handsome and sharply creased Scorpio.
Here is another photo of the 1991 Ford Scorpio which replaced the previous design Sablesque Merkur Scorpio. Now it looks like the 1991 Ford Taurus.
Last but not least, Ford seemed rather pervasive with the Taurus design that the Volvo based 2004 Ford Five Hundred later becoming the revival of the Taurus name and the 1993 Ford Crown Victoria also looked like the 1G Ford Taurus.
The final generation of the 3G 1994-98 Ford Scorpio now had design similarities with the 1996-00 Ford Taurus.
Yes, that Scorpio and that Taurus look similar, car companies (especially those that are multi-national) do that on purpose so that you are better able to just glance at a car anywhere on the planet and know which company built it. Look at new Chevys….ALL look the same from the front starting at the Spark all the way to the Impala. Toyota does the same thing….even on cars that are sold in just 1 or 2 markets (the Avalon is a good example).
Are they similar? They are similar like horses and cows. The Scorpio has the old rectilnear roofline of the ’86 car while the US car has an unbroken sweep; the Euroford has rounded, vaguely triangular lamps whereas the US Ford has pure ellipses. I can’t agree. The Euroford was a reskin of an old car and was Ford’s way of extending the life of a car in sector it was clearly losing. The BMW 3 and 5 took the D-class from Ford.
I’ve seen this generation Taurus, and I found its appearance hideous, from nearly every angle. The same I’m afraid goes for the Ford Scorpio of the same generation.
Since the original Merkur was such a sales dud, its almost beyond belief why L&M would try to sell the Scorpio three years later.. Guess they never learned from the Merkur mistake.Maybe one of the reasons why Mercury is dead.
Actually the 2G Ford Scorpio (the one with the design almost similar to the 1991 Ford Taurus) was never imported here in the U.S. again and by then Ford had learned its lesson that bringing its fringed RWDs like the Ford Sierra aka Merkur XR4ti and the Ford aka Merkur Scorpio were doomed to failed since Ford and Mercury already offered similar sized cars and designs albeit FWD cars like the Tempo, Topaz, Taurus and Sable were already selling reasonably well and yet at much reasonable prices as well and had better MPG than their European heavier cousins. However if they both were marketed for the Lincoln division instead, who knows?
I remember when these were new, they sold poorly because of cost and dealers that didn’t care, like the article stated the Sable was much cheaper and easier to sell. Looking back it was a handsome car with a very nice interior and RWD, I’m thinking Ford should have sold these as Lincolns. Can’t blame Ford for trying though.
Well, it was a lot more attractive than the FWD Continental, which to me always looked like Mitsubishi trying to clone a Town Car.
The biggest problem with the Scorpio is that: 1. Assuming you were willing to set foot into a L-M dealer in the first place, and, 2. You could afford that kind of money, then . . . . . . . 3. You ran right into a salesman who was more than happy to steer you into a Lincoln Continental, if for no other reason than he understood that kind of car.
And, of course, if you’re looking for a bit of Eurotrash totty, that last thing you’re going to be interested in buying is a big, fat, soft American cruiser. Which the average L-M salesman was way too stupid to understand.
They might have done better setting up a separate “Euro Ford” or Merkur franchise. With a few salesmen poached from Mercedes, BMW and Audi dealerships.
Just getting Americans to pronounce the Merkur name properly was a chore…nice enough car but it makes me think of Buick dealers selling Opels and Isuzus, and Mercury stores selling the 1970s era Capri…an afterthought that I doubt most stores spent much effort on attempting to sell.
I don’t know if I’d include the Capri in that group, at least not initially. For the first few years they were imported the Capri was a big hit. I’d say dealer apathy probably started once the “Capri Zwei” hit the US.
Given the demographic Ford was aiming for with the Merkur brand, (the Scorpio in particular) it wouldn’t surprise me if more than a few potential buyers were turned off by memories of the Capri they drove in college that rusted out from under them!
Interesting. Again a lovely cutaway profile. One of my favorite of the 80s losers: cars that ended up being a dead end despite being cool or unique in some way.
Ford’s headquarters address is in the Renaissance Center, built by Ford but now occupied by GM.
Ford built the RenCen? Wow, never knew that. I’ve never seen photos of it without the big GM sign.
I agree with the “favorite loser” status. Clearly these failed in the market for a variety of reasons, but I’ve always found them attractive and interesting.
Not Ford Motor Co. Henry Ford personally was part of a large consortium of Detroit business leaders that backed the building of the Ren Cen to stimulate a revival (renaissance) in downtown Detroit. But Ford never used the building. And GM bought it in the late 90s(?) or so. It had never been utilized properly, with low vacancy rates, IIRC. GM got a good deal on it.
Ford was always headquartered out in Dearborn.
My only experience with these Merkurs from the ’80s was of the few that I ever saw in the Baltimore area, like 25% of them were on fire on the side of the Beltway or I-83. It seemed that whenever Detour Dave, 98 Rock’s traffic guy said there was a backup due to a Car-B-Que, by the time you rolled up on the vehicle flambé, odds were like 3:2 that it was an XR4ti or one of its Merkur siblings.
Perhaps the lack of sales (at least in this area) were due to its reputation of spontaneous combustion!
A familiar face but as a Ford in the UK, another car I’ve not seen for a very long time.
Ive seen the odd one here amongst the sea of Japanese/Ozstrayan Fords we have.
There was also a sleeper Ford Scorpio. It had a 195 hp 2.9 liter Cologne V6 24v engine, built by Cosworth. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia/John Brown)
And what Gem says above, a very common sight not that long ago, all gone by now. A co-worker had one in the early nineties, it had a Peugeot turbo diesel. An honest and no-nonsense cruiser.
They were rust traps, hence the high casualty rate (other than the fact that no one wants a fuel guzzling, big older car in Europe).
This was perhaps the model to cross the pond. Americans will come in believing the German car has higher performance than the Sable or Bonneville that cost so much less. A test drive in the American Scorpio will disabuse them of that notion pretty fast. 51 more horsepower would have helped a lot and justified the high price.
I had an XR4Ti, which was excellent. While browsing in the showroom one day, a customer was about to be written up or a Saab, when he spotted he Merkur and asked “What is this? I t looks great!” To which the salesman replied “Oh, that’s a Merkur,you don’t want that. The customer continued to ask about it but received no responses. And THAT was the problem with Merkurs!
I don’t know if it was the fact that the only person I knew who owned one(a friend’s mother) was a doctor but for whatever reason when I think of Scorpios in a dreary sterile hospital setting – Ok now that I say that aloud that’s exactly why lol
I guess an enthusiast for 80s US Fords these are just literally too foreign for me, every single thing is different, buttons, materials, placement of things. Not that one is better than the other, I just never get the sense that they’re Ford products, the ones I’m used to. Plus the styling just doesn’t do it for me, I don’t mind the XR4Ti, but even then I think the similar in execution Mustang SVO is way better looking
That’s funny, I remember them (Granada/Scorpio) from the UK as the sort of thing a working class man with ideas over his station and lots of things to carry would drive.
Ideas above his station? That’s the kind of expression I thought died out in the 1960s. If you want to talk about people trying to pretend they are something they are not, I feel a used Jaguar XJ fits the bill. The stereotype is that pub landlords and small-time builder-developers go for these cars. In mainland Europe that’s never the case though.
I think the Granada and the Opel Omega/Senator were good, straightforward cars. Personally I prefer the Senator/Omega pair but there’s nothing wrong with a Granada/Scorpio. The interiors were spacious and even the police liked them for their high-speed manners.
Quite right, in the “Ford Scorpio” days all mainstream automakers offered an E-segment (executive-class) sedan, wagon or hatchback. Four- and six-cylinder gasoline engines and turbo diesels. Something like the first gen Opel Omega was a highly successful sedan/wagon. Nothing wrong with them.
These were solid middle class cars until the late 80s and then their market drifted off to Mercedes and BMW. If any Ford had a working class image it was fast Fords like the XR Escorts and Fiestas. Granadas were middle manager cars.
Heck, our Royal Family drove all generations of Granadas and Scorpios as “company cars”. Dark bleu metallic, all of them, from the Granada Mk1 to the last Scorpio model.
Yes, but Freddy Heineken had a Peugeot 604!
In Ireland the real reward for government ministers was a Mercedes W-123 in the 70s. The Prime Minister, Charles Haughey, was a bit of snob under his veneer of populism and deemed Mercedes to be a car fit for the senior cabinet. At that point Opel, Peugeot and Ford had lost the game.
Yes, that’s right. In the mid 80’s, euro mainstream manufacturers still had models in this segment. While Fiat had the Chroma, Citröen had the CX, Renault had the 25 and so on – all FWD, germans Ford Scorpio and Opel/Vauxhall Omega had RWD.
Intersting fact: most of then were five-door liftback body, and the Omega was a four-door.
Also, most of then had gas 2.0 liter turbo engines, alongside the V6’s.
I wonder which one was a better car.
In 1987 the Citroen CX was nearing its end. However in GTi form w
it was very fast and very comfortable. Peugeot had the 505 with a range going from 2.0 litre fours to a smooth V6 of about 2.8 litres. It was from 1979 (roughly) and so getting on in years. From Italy there was the 1984 Lancia Thema, front drive and equipped with 2.0 litre non-turbo and turbo engines. It was a kind of Buick, with a half-luxurious/half sporty style. The interior was large and roomy. Allied to that Saab made the 9000 on the same body shell. Fast and ergonomically sound, they made it to a high standard and it was very capable. Opel’s Omega dated from 1986 and it got good reviews as did the Senator which shared much of the body structure but with a 3.0 six and lots of gadgets. Ford covered the same range with one car. The Granada had a 1.8 to a V6 (as in the related Merkur). And where do we place Audi’s 100 with its 4 and 5 cylinder engines? Or the benchmark Mercedes W-126 E-class? My pick of the bunch is the Saab 9000 for its comfort, speed and handling, and equally the Opel Omega for its modern and well-judged styling, balanced handling and wide range of engines.
Thanks for the information. I think the merc, the Audi, the BMW 5, the Volvo 760, and the Saab were a bit more expensive and exclusive than the others.
I’d pick the Lancia Thema, but I also like the Saab and the Volvo.
Tongue in cheek, tongue in cheek. And yes, the Jag is another example of the breed (deteriorating luxury car owned by someone who cannot, or cannot afford to maintain it).
If I recall the front seats had this black squeeze bulb that for for the lumbar. It looked like the squeeze bulb that you have on a blood pressure tester so maybe your hospital setting comment is not off the mark.
If I remember correctly these(In Ford Scorpio guise) were beloved by European police forces. So I guess that makes the Ford Scorpio a European “Crown Victoria”?
Yes, big Euro-Fords (the Granada and its successor the Scorpio) were used by police forces.
The good thing about these big Fords, and their direct competitors, was their wide engine- and trim level choice. Plus the choice between a manual and an automatic. From a simple 4-cylinder 2.0 liter to the Cosworth V6 pictured above. In the eighties turbo diesels also became available. First Peugeot turbo diesels, later VM Motori.
I actually liked this car, especially in black.
The funny name, the awful XR4Ti, the sort of similar and much better priced Sable in the same showroom doomed this car – as many others have said.
Guardstang’s comment that these should have been sold as Lincolns may be the only possible way things could have gone better. A stand alone dealer network was not in the cards. But, a modern, RWD V-6 only Lincoln would have sort of differentiated it from the Mercury in the same showroom.
If they had simply stuck to the Mercury badge it would have sold better or just called it a Scorpio.There is only “snob appeal” in a brand with a known reparation like MB and BMW. Just shows how blind fords marketing dept was thinking they could just Germanis Mercury and buyers would think “thats cool, better than Mercury”.
I know the Scorpio was sized like the Taurus/Sable, but did Ford (in the 1980’s ) think the Taurus would replace the Crown Victoria or Marquis…before the 2010’s when it finally did?
I’m a big hatchback fan, and this is one rarity, a big hatchback. Very few midsized cars, let alone full sized cars were ever offered as hatchbacks…wagons, maybe, but now even those are just about non-existant in the US (I think BMW has a 5 series hatchback now here, but I think that’s a bit smaller than the Scorpio would be)..
We had plannned to rent an Opel Omega on a family trip to Europe 20 years ago, but when we went to the rental counter they didn’t have an Omega, only a Ford Scorpio wagon, which I was initally bummed about (I liked the Opels I had previously rented) but turned into a blessing as I the main driver who could also drive manual got sick during the trip, and my youngest sister (who never learned to drive manual) had to take over the driving for a time. It also was a wagon (my family never seemed to learn to pack light, so we filled it up). It was pretty loaded up, with front power windows only, and shiny chrome rims, which may have not merited a second glance in Switzerland where the car was plated, but in eastern Slovakia at the time it got us noticed, our relatives were always directing us to park it behind gates or otherwise safe locations.
It wasn’t pretty (I think the ’96 Scorpio was downright homely) but I did enjoy driving it and the family stories we added while on that trip.
The Ford Scorpio, Renault 25, Fiat Croma and Saab 9000 were hatch-/liftbacks. And the later Citroën XM. The rest, all sedans.
Fast forward circa 30 years, the only brands that offer an E-segment (executive class) car in Europe right now are Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Jaguar, Maserati, Lexus and Infiniti. Not one of them is a mainstream brand.
I like the body styling of the four door. I found it more attractive than the two door XR4ti. I did like the nose of the XR4ti.
Actually, there was a 4-door Scorpio. It was introduced in 1990.
A hatchback is often referred to as a 3- or 5-door car.
That’s what they’re called but I don’t agree. If the opening isn’t made for people to get in and out of it’s not a door.
I owned a Scorpio back around 1993. Long story short – it was by far the worse car I have ever owned as far as things malfunctioning. God awful! I thought I would never be able to sell it, even though it looked brand new. It was much easier to simply say what did work vs what did not work! However, since they were so rare to begin with and since by 1995 many had already bit the dust, I had the only one in Houston for sale at the time. I thought that there must be one person who just had to have one, and I had the only one. What a relief the day that it sold!
When I bought the car, which was like brand new, it was only about 4 yrs old. It did actually have the feel and drive quality of a Mercedes. But as things started to fail one by one, I could not keep up with the failures and high expense of repairs. I actually thought about parting out the car, since the parts would have been worth about one million dollars! All instruments failed, all power windows failed, power moon roof failed open, the anti-lock brakes failed (almost killed me, and drove the car back home over 100 miles with no brakes! – very slow of course), bad vibration (would have required the whole rear end be replaced), a/c and vent system stopped working, and on and on.
I don’t know if also Ford Motor Company on both sides of the ocean would coincidentally admit the German meaning of “MERKUR” was too close or even the same to “MERCURY”?
The rearward photos of the 1990 Ford Scorpio 4 Door Sedan (same photo posted by Johannes Dutch) vs. the 1992 Ford Taurus 4 Door Sedan. There is no denying of their strong design resemblance all around.
1992 Ford Taurus vs 1990 Audi 100 C4 ?
Or ALL 3 perhaps?
hope this works – nf fairlane
I’ve always liked the Ford Taurus up to 1995. My dad owned its twin, the Mercury Sable. Both were good looking cars up until 1996.
Yeah my Taurus interest ends in 95 also. I have 2, a 88 and a 94. However my 70’s cars are less trouble actually. But at least 86-95 Taureses are cheap, just like I like ’em. Time for me to start buying Taurus parts car’s now that my 70’s models are overpriced.
YES somewhat but I have to check though if they are closer in size with the 1G or 2G Taurus. If not, then they were more closer in size with the redesigned 3G, 4G or even the Volvo based Ford Five Hundred which later became the Taurus.
When the Scorpio came here, Lincoln/Mercury advertised a huge pack of literature, And a video tape for it for the typical SASE. I sent it in. It was indeed a large packet of info. I lost track of it about 15 years ago though. Wish I could find it again. Oh well, at least I still have “The Going Thing Sings the Maverick Song” that was given to dealerships in March 69 to make local radio commercials for the Maverick. Along with lots of other dealership only material.
I want one of these.
Hi, Carroll – I have just found one of these Ford Maverick promo discs. Let me know if interested. Here’s how to get in touch with me.
thanks – Brian
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