When considering the vehicles that Ford produced during the 80s, most can easily recognize the more notable American models—the Fox Body Mustang, Bull Nose F-150, and even the full-size Bronco. However, Ford experienced significant success overseas, particularly in Germany, with a specific sport compact named the Ford Sierra. This bolstered Ford’s presence in the market, unbeknownst to many Americans. Eventually, Ford decided to try its hand at bringing the car to the United States, opting for a quick name change to Merkur to avoid potential naming conflicts with GMC’s line of trucks.
Unfortunately, the Ford Merkur would never achieve the same level of success it enjoyed in Europe during its four-year stint in America. Nevertheless, this fact did not deter it from cultivating a cult following stateside among loyal enthusiasts who sought to replicate the touring prowess it demonstrated overseas, particularly with the RS500 and Cosworth engines. While online renderings and modified Hot Wheels capture the essence of what these Merkur aficionados dream of seeing in person, JH Restorations took it a step further by turning that dream into a reality with their 1987 Merkur dubbed the RS4Ti.
Straying From The Norm
Many restoration shops typically opt for simplicity by specializing in a particular vehicle and becoming experts in that specific brand line. However, this conventional approach often lacks the excitement that comes with pushing the boundaries between restoration and restomod. Through years of experience, JH Restorations has discovered that a diverse portfolio attracts more attention to their creations. For their fourth SEMA show, they have unveiled a car that transcends age and motorsports, presenting a perfectly concocted blend.
If you gaze at JH Restorations’ Merkur long enough, you’ll find yourself traversing through different eras and motorsports. The car’s aesthetics emanate radical 80s vibes, seamlessly blended with modern touches both inside and out. From a motorsport standpoint, you can discern the convergence of Group A rally and Touring Car Racing, with the latter being a standout feature for the Merkur’s overseas counterparts. The Area 51 Blue, a color found on numerous new model Fords, reintroduces race car aesthetics with an elegant and street-friendly imagery.
A Platform To Perform
As one might expect, a car at this level is designed to perform on par with its aesthetics. This restomod touring car is no different, with meticulous attention given to the entire chassis to elevate the car beyond its original level and surpass even today’s vehicles. However, amid the changes, some elements remain consistent with the original. In this case, JH Restorations chose to retain the 2.3-liter displacement, showcasing a commitment to the car’s heritage.
Rather than searching for elusive products or custom-producing engine components for an outdated engine, the team opted for a Ford Performance 2.3-liter EcoBeast engine. This engine was not only fortified by Ford but also equipped with an upgraded Ford Performance turbo setup. A 3-inch stainless steel exhaust provides the Merkur with a deep exhaust note and the ability to exhale with ease. .
Naturally, an automatic transmission wouldn’t complement the style of this compact car, so a TREMEC TKX five-speed manual transmission was chosen for installation. The short gear ratio and compact size of the transmission proved to be the perfect fit in the narrow transmission corridor. Extending through the modern drivetrain is a QA1 carbon-fiber driveshaft that channels power to a custom, in-house-designed rear suspension setup, incorporating a Ford Super 8.8 independent center section.
All Grip, No Gripe
In the realm of championships, maintaining grip is paramount to staying ahead of the pack. The Ford Sierra knows this well, having secured victory in over 84-percent of its touring car racing entries. To uphold that tradition, JH Restorations pursued a one-off set of 18-inch American Racing wheels, encasing them in Toyo Proxes Sport Tires. Nestled behind the wheels are 14-inch Wilwood Engineering brakes, providing the hot hatch with late braking superiority.
Inside And Out
Inside, modern Recaro seats were installed, not only to evoke the look and feel of the 80s but also to adhere to modern safety standards by providing physical restraint for the driver. The timeless Recaro aesthetic extends throughout the interior, featuring premium leather and classic Recaro cloth inserts. While the Merkur’s dash remains functional and fully optional, a few gauges monitoring engine parameters have been replaced with a set of custom-designed and engineered Dakota Digital Instruments, guiding your eyes to the more essential details.
The exterior underwent a transformation, with the front bumper being the first element to captivate attention with its RS500-styled look. Custom wide-body flares and a modified hood were meticulously sculpted with a specific purpose in mind – lowering the car without compromising on-track performance. The finishing touches include Euro-spec one-piece rear side glass and an updated biplane rear wing. Once the car reached completion, it was adorned in Ford’s Area 51 Blue from BASF Automotive Refinishing products.
A Merkur Like None Other
While the American Ford aftermarket continues to produce classic Mustangs and robust Broncos, it’s refreshing to witness someone undertake the revival of a car that received little to no love here. Perhaps we owe the Sierra for its cult following and the subsequent popularity of compact cars. However, I imagine it would have been a much easier sell if it resembled the incredible creation that JH Restorations crafted here.