The Merkur Scorpio is a modified version of the European Ford Scorpio with 4 doors and liftgate (hatchback). It was manufactured between 1987 and 1989 and sold through select Lincoln-Mercury dealerships as 1988 and 1989 models. It first went on sale in the United States in May 1987 but was discontinued in October 1989. It was unsuccessful in the American market for a variety of reasons and some contemporary observers blamed poor marketing of the brand and model for its quick demise.
The Merkur Scorpio, along with the Merkur XR4Ti, was developed from two of Ford's European executive cars: the Ford Scorpio Mark I and the Ford Sierra, respectively. They were manufactured in Germany and sold in North America as captive imports.
The XR4Ti only came as a 2-door vehicle with liftgate, and the Scorpio only came as a 4-door with a liftgate. Unlike the popularity the European Fords enjoyed, both the Merkur Scorpio and the XR4Ti fell prey to several different issues that led to Merkur name being discontinued in North America.
The Scorpio's fastback (hatchback) design gave Lincoln-Mercury dealers an opportunity to offer customers a sportier premium alternative to the more traditional Lincoln Continental and Town Car sedans.
The Merkur logo was featured on the front as a flush mounted hood ornament, on the standard alloy wheels, and on the steering wheel. A variety of exterior color choices were available, each matched to either gray or brown lower body cladding.
Power came from a 144 horsepower 2.9L V6 engine offering reasonable performance for its time but when compared to other premium hatchbacks, such as the 160 horsepower Saab 9000 Turbo and Sterling 827, the Scorpio was merely average at best.
The original base price of the car was $23,390 (equal to approximately $47,849 today). Options included automatic transmission, power moonroof, and Touring Package. Most North American Scorpios were sold with automatic transmission (some estimate that as few as 60 came equipped with a T-9 5-speed manual transmission, similar to the one installed in the XR4Ti) and Touring Package which raised the sticker price to $26,405 (equal to approximately $54,017 today).
On October 20, 1989, Ford officially announced plans to discontinue imports of the Scorpio to the United States due to poor sales and the high cost of converting the car to meet new U.S. safety regulations. This effectively dissolved the Merkur franchise as the XR4Ti, the brand's only other offering, had already been discontinued earlier in the model year.
Most parts for Merkur Scorpios are widely available although certain custom features are not. Most parts are available in the United States but some have to be located in Europe and shipped internationally.
The Scorpio used a high security design called a Tibbe key in the ignition; this design is still used on European Fords and most Jaguar cars, but they are relatively uncommon in the U.S. There are few unused blank keys for replacements in the states, and most have to be sourced from Ford of Europe.
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