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11/2/10 2:13 p.m.

Long time lurker, first time poster.

So this weekend I purchased an Azure Blue 1987 XR4Ti, which will be my first project car since high school. (To put that into perspective, my 10 year reunion is next May.) I figured if anybody knew about the XR4Ti, it would be you guys.

So, having looked over some of the old turbo 2.3 threads and the odd bit of Google, I have a set of questions that nobody else seems to be able to answer.

1) My seats all look like the ass of an ass beast. I didn't know leather could split in half, but my front buckets prove otherwise. I found a page listing seat swaps for the Ford Ranger, and apparently the XR buckets bolt right in. Mustang GT buckets also bolt right in. So, if a=b (XR buckets bolt in a Ranger) and a=c (Mustang buckets bolt in a Ranger) then B must equal C and Mustang seats bolt in, right?

2) The turbo 2.3 is heavy. Esslinger Racing sells a high-flow aluminum head for about twice what I paid for the whole damn car in running, driving condition. I understand that the aluminum D-port head is a popular part amongst roundy-round types. Should I be looking at midget stock, etc. classifieds? Does anybody ever end up selling this head used?

3) I want this part or something like it: DG Design Custom Radiator & Intercooler. I'm going to put a Cosworth-style front grille on this, so the intercooler airflow will be outstanding. That, plus the packaging means I can keep my A/C, which is absolutely non-negotiable in Memphis. Anybody have a line on this part, or should I give up and start looking at air-water intercoolers?

4) Being that this is the only running XR I've seen within 100 miles of Memphis in the 4 months I've been looking for a project car, I overlooked the C3 auto. However, the autobox will be going away very shortly in favor of a T5. Is there a definitive list of bellhousings that work, or can I use anything that had a 2.3 on one end, a cable clutch, and a T5 on the other?

5) Last one I swear: can I swap out the body cladding and bumpers for the black monochrome-style ones from an 88-89? This gray stuff has got to go, and I don't know how well bumper paint will work on it.

96DXCivic SuperDork
11/2/10 2:23 p.m.
LordTurbonia wrote: 5) Last one I swear: can I swap out the body cladding and bumpers for the black monochrome-style ones from an 88-89? This gray stuff has got to go, and I don't know how well bumper paint will work on it.

Not to much help but you can get all the body parts to build a Cossie replica of this site.


Raze Dork
11/2/10 2:24 p.m.

You've come to one of the right places, check my garage, you'll find my buddies and my project/AutoX/track XR4Ti

1) Can't help you, we bolted in aftermarket racer-ish seats

2) Don't bother, not worth the $$$, you could put a FMIC, high flow injectors, bigger turbo (used), 3" exhaust and a MegaSquirt on there and get more power and fun for the price of the Essy head...

3) For the price of a Cossy front grille you could do alot more useful upgrades like wheels and tires or Koni yellows all around, or brake upgrades / If you mount the intercooler below the front cross bar there is enough room even with A/C and whatnot to route hoses, you just have to be creative and use alot of couplers or weld a bunch...

4) T5 swap info: http://www.merkurencyclopedia.com/Trans,Diff/transmission.html get a bell off a 4cyl T5 mustang, they're easy enough to get, better yet, get a SVO or TurboCoupe trans and bolt right in, if you go V8 T5 you're going to need input bushing, or else change the input shaft. Also you'll need the 1 piece driveshaft and an adapter to the rear diff, 460machine still makes em but you should be able to figure it out if you have access to a machine shop.

5) Paint it, don't waste your time paying for crap body cladding, truck bed liner works great, as does just about any bumper paint...

m4ff3w GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/2/10 2:42 p.m.

Mr. Raze summed it up.

Welcome to oddball car ownership, it is a great place to live.

LordTurbonia New Reader
11/2/10 3:12 p.m.


So the aluminum heads are a waste of money in a normal person's build. Kinda what I figured, given their cost new, but I was hoping that I would find some random enclave of midget stock racers willing to toss me one for a few hundred. My target for this car is 250ish wheel HP, but I assume that 250 will turn into 300 will turn into "holy e36m3, the Earth's rotation slowed" as I get the car more and more sorted. Too much is never enough, etc.

I like that intercooler placement, and frankly that's probably what I'll end up doing. I liked the all in one package deal just because the piping looked easy to route and it seemed to keep the intake path short

Bumper paint it is! Sweet. I was planning on matching the cladding, bumpers and spoiler to give a two-tone effect. The Cosworth grille is pure aesthetics and I'm doing it anyway (along with Rapido's quad light setup) , but I'm not going to use a real ($$$big$ass$$$) Cossie grill. Repro is fine by me. Also, the Cossie grille/quad lights are squarely at the bottom of the list, right before a fresh coat of Azure Blue. In other words, dead last behind stuff that makes the car go, stop, and corner. (And less assy seats.)

On Megasquirt: does MS have a provision for using the 2.3t/EEC-IV knock sensors? I would prefer to be able to pull timing and boost based on sensor input if at all possible, since I see this going into high PSI's pretty quick.

Raze Dork
11/2/10 3:55 p.m.

250 WHP can be almost had on stock parts with higher boost off the stock turbo (past 18psi and you'll be in surge city) with a MegaSquirt and an intercooler and an open exhaust (read 3" + high flow cat/muff).

Easy way to 300+HP is MegaSquirt, intercooler, open exhaust, bigger turbo (T3/T4 hybrid, Garrett BB if you have the cash, Holset if you're poor and don't care about silly things like turbo lag (like us)), and bigger injectors. If you want to do more than bolt on mod you can port your head and/or get a bigger cam, look to Boport 1.5 or 1.9 will help get you there. With the above mods and your tuning/love for turning up the boost you can get past a point where you'll need rods, bolts, and pistons, but not till about 400HP, and you'll be blowing mighty hard on a fully setup engine at that point (easier to swap in a 5.0 with some heads, cam and exhaust for that kind of N/A power).

intake path length really isn't as big of a deal as people make it out to be, if you do some flow calculations of the turbo and add the entire volume of a 10'x2.5" intake path plus intercooler volume you're looking at a very small fraction of a second required to fill it up (ignoring fanno flow losses in a pipe) on it's way to the intake. We have over 10' of intake length when all straightened out and there's no appreciable lag. The benefit of getting the intercooler down there away from the radiator is it removes heat soak, from our pictures you can see how ours protrudes through the facia, on a 90° day in Atlanta with 30psi of boost we're seeing inlet temps around 100-110° above 20 mph, we'll take 80-90% efficiency any day on an aircooled street setup...

On MS, yes you can hook certain versions up with a knock sensor, I wouldn't bother though, it's much easier to start conservative with your timing + a wideband O2 and work your way up if you go stand alone. Either that or some time on a dyno and you're good to go. The nice part about these engines + MS is you loose the VAM and go to a MAP based setup, if that's not immediately clear some understanding about air metering and forced induction should open your eyes to all the problems of a VAM + boosted engines. This is especially true of a 2.3T which is a hose whore and love to leak...

LordTurbonia New Reader
11/2/10 5:23 p.m.

In reply to Raze:

I knew the stock VAM was a restriction, but I hadn't considered the extra bonuses of a mainfold pressure setup.

Bonus on the heat soak. I didn't think about heat soak beyond getting the IC proper airflow, but sitting it above a 190 degree radiator and behind the A/C condenser is just asking for a temp spike at stop lights.

tincetti New Reader
11/2/10 8:02 p.m.

You should consider joining the following forums; The Merkur Club of America and Merkursport.com. . 300hp(but not much more) should be attainable with intercooling and increased boost levels, and the larger VAM and ECU from an 87-88 Thunderbird Turbocoupe. Also check out Stinger Performance's website,they have an excellent FAQ section.

P.S. The ECU on the C3 cars is considered to be the lowest performance of the 2.3 turbo cars

fastEddie Dork
11/3/10 7:55 a.m.

Seriously, almost 12 hours and no John Brown.... Is he alive?

Raze Dork
11/3/10 8:07 a.m.
tincetti wrote: You should consider joining the following forums; The Merkur Club of America and Merkursport.com. . 300hp(but not much more) should be attainable with intercooling and increased boost levels, and the larger VAM and ECU from an 87-88 Thunderbird Turbocoupe. Also check out Stinger Performance's website,they have an excellent FAQ section. P.S. The ECU on the C3 cars is considered to be the lowest performance of the 2.3 turbo cars

alot of that is due to the fact that the C3 is boost limited to 10psi instead of the T9 manuals 15psi (those are approximate numbers as it's not exactly the most precise setup). You can turn up the boost with a MBC, but the C3 won't appreciate it for long...

here's another site with info besides merkur encyclopedia, http://fordturbo.com/mainframe.html

CaptainSpaulding Reader
11/3/10 9:16 a.m.

www.turboford.org all things 2.3t powered.

Love me some 2.3t. I have had several SVO mustang and one Turbo GT.

Would love to have another.

belteshazzar SuperDork
11/3/10 10:38 a.m.

I sorely miss my turbo-lima. That hog got 24mpg in town, on 21psi of boost & my lead-foot behind the wheel. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't done it myself, but it was every tank.

integraguy Dork
11/3/10 11:39 a.m.

So YOU bought that car? It has been on CL for MONTHS and only recently has the previous owner hinted at a price...I guess he was desperate? Automatic was the reason I used for not looking at that car "in the metal" tho the pics looked halfways decent.

darkbuddha None
11/3/10 2:04 p.m.

Welcome to the affliction. To answer some of your questions:

  1. Seats.... stock seats were made by Recaro, and decently supportive, but as you've found out, the leather sucks. I personally like the cloth versions much better. As far as I'm aware, there is no exact bolt-in replacement for the seats, but it won't be terribly difficult to make something else fit.

  2. Esslinger's head... nice stuff, but pricey, even used. The last one I found from a mini stock guy, he still wanted $800 for it. The problem is that Esslinger's stuff is still pretty highly sought after, even if the cars that carried the 2.3s aren't. You can make 250-300hp on the stock long block. It's just a matter of how big a turbo you wanna run, what ecu you wanna run, etc. You can easily get to the 250hp mark (which will easily give you 270tq too) with the stock turbo. 3" exhaust, PE or LA series ecu, big VAM, MBC, K&N filter sucking up cold air, ported E6 manifold, ported/gutted intakes, plus 18-20 lbs of boost, and you should be there no problem.

  3. Intercooler & radiator combo to keep a/c... I'm running something similar to the DG kit, but it's a legit Cosworth 2wd IC over a Saab 900 radiator/fan setup. Reasonably priced, capable of handling up to 400hp, easy install, excellent packaging. I got the IC from JVAB, but also check http://www.merkur.50megs.com/.

  4. T5... yes, you can use any T5 that was attached to a 2.3... SVO, Turbocoupe, 4 cyl Mustang... but the tricky part is ratios and torque rating. Turbocoupe and 4 cyl Mustangs had the same ratios and torque rating... it's a very short first gear, even shorter than the stock XR T9 first. The later (85-86) SVO box has better gearing and torque rating. But to be honest, either box is going to be a huge step up from the C3 (blech!).

  5. Cladding... Yes, the late ('88-'89) cladding is a direct swap, and it is smooth, unlike the earlier models' textured stuff. If you're really concerned about appearance, it's worth buying some later smooth stuff, and it should be fairly reasonably priced... heck, I threw away mine when I went with Cosworth replica arches.

BTW, as mentioned earlier, join the MCA forums, merkursport.com, the IMON list, and turboford.org. Also check and see if there's a regional list in your area. There are several active Merkur parts suppliers now (more than ever actually), including BAT, Rapido, MerkursMidwest, Merkur Depot, OPMD, JVAB (for hardcore rally stuff and more), MC2 Racing (autocross stuff and more), and a couple others that escape me at the moment. If you need it, wanna replace it, want an upgrade, or wanna go racing, one of these places has it.

BowtieBandit New Reader
11/3/10 8:25 p.m.

Of course you need help, bought bought a Merkur! You need a padded cell!

These are great cars, but you have to LOVE them to really enjoy them. I've got a friend that has one and I would have gotten rid of it years ago had it given me as much grief as his has.

But they are cool cars and if you're reading this place, you probably enjoy the challenge of something a little odd.

LordTurbonia New Reader
11/4/10 2:36 p.m.


Yeah, I bought that car. It just kept bugging me through 15 or 20 project cars that always seemed to fall through (having to borrow a truck and tow dolly to move anything not roadworthy means I usually get beat in the CL shuffle) and I've always loved the XR4Ti.

I also thought the ad looked scammy. I finally broke down and called, expecting the worst, but when I called the dude up, it turns out that this was his daily driver through most of the 90's. He's owned it since 93 and you could tell he was a little upset letting it go, but he'd had it off the road for a few years and reading between the lines my best guess is the old "fix it or sell it" ultimatum from his significant other. I'm pretty sure the guy has been turning down offers for months trying to hold on to it, but he broke down and put a low price so I went over there with about

As to the car, mechanically it's pretty sound. (It looks a little assy though. Those ad pictures suffer from a bad case of "the angles" and manage to avoid showing you the totally shot paint on the roof and the feral cat seat covers.) As I said, he's had it sitting for a while, but it had semi-current tags and he claims he's fired it up once or twice a month to keep everything loosy-goosy. It started right up first try and drove around at parking lot speeds with no histrionics, but when I pulled the car up on the trailer (seller wouldn't sell it to me unless I trailered it home) and shut the engine off at operating temp, the coolant tank cap didn't hold pressure and treated me to a steamy surprise. (But not the kind you want :)

So, this weekend is cataloging all of the existing issues and a coolant flush/new tank cap, and hopefully next weekend will be Stage 0; getting the car back to factory spec so it can pass inspection. Once I get it there, the next step is big ass exhaust, as the muffler got dinged pretty hard as we put the car on the trailer and the system may need repairs. (Perfect excuse to get 3" monster pipes!) I'll know more after I get under it this weekend.

FlightService Reader
11/4/10 2:51 p.m.

So does anyone have a Box Flair kit/pics so we can link this to the box flair page?

snipes Reader
11/5/10 5:37 p.m.

Why don't we have pictures of this car yet? LordTurbonia you are slacking!

m4ff3w GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/5/10 7:00 p.m.
FlightService wrote: So does anyone have a Box Flair kit/pics so we can link this to the box flair page?

tuna55 Dork
11/5/10 8:01 p.m.

God help me, I really want one. I also want a Conquest. At that point, though, I'd get pissed at the various issues and want to swap in an LS1, and I may as well start with something else, but seriously, I would love one of those.

The_Jed Reader
11/6/10 5:48 a.m.

I had been staring at the above picture for about thirty minutes when I realized..."Somebody nicked me bloody windscreen wipers!".

The_Jed Reader
11/6/10 5:55 a.m.

I may or may not get flamed, but, if I were in your shoes and the old 2.3 just isn't doing it I would drop in a 5.0, 5-speed combo. I remember reading a build thread for an American Iron or AIX car that had a turbo 2.3. It was entitled "The mythical lightweight 2.3 turbo" because the entire package (with an iron head) actually weighed more than a 302 with iron heads. And to me there is little in this world that compares to the sound of a poorly muffled, high-strung 5.0. Except for Thornley...or maybe CKY.

randyvr6 New Reader
11/6/10 4:50 p.m.

Ford did make a version of the Ford Sierra with a 5.0 V8. It was sold in South Africa and was called an XR8 as I recall.

I owned a Merkur XR4Ti several years ago as a daily driver for 3 years or so. It was a great car and actually very reliable for the time I had it.

Winston Reader
11/6/10 5:06 p.m.

Stop it with all of this XR4TI talk... you guys are making me want one.

MikeD New Reader
11/6/10 6:52 p.m.

good advise above i agree with much that was said early on..

As for the head, volvo b23 16v heads bolt on, they just need some minor weling to cover the up near the timing belt. and manifolds.

and a 16v head flows quite alot nicer than the ford 8v...

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