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A Canadian racing tribute: Group EH!

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  • A Canadian racing tribute: Group EH!

    Gentlemen! (and ladies if youíre here) Welcome to another nostalgic car that while is not Japanese actually does share some prestige on the island from Its successor and some will argue that it helped create the legend that is Godzilla. But more on that in a bit because I should start at the beginning and explain that what I just said might be a bit of a reachÖ
    Being in North America has its perks. Unless you love European cars and have a tight budget that precludes you from importing something. Thankfully over the years there has been a little bleed through and experimenting by manufacturers and my current and most recent acquisition is exactly that!

    Behold the forgotten, the ignored, the overshadowed and now somewhat rare Merkur XR4Ti! (below isnít mine, thatíll be post 2 to match my 924 post)

    And of course, I like cars that have racing pedigree (no not the dog food). Hereís where this gets pretty cool on these cars for geeks like me. The XR4Ti was raced in North America in 1984 a full year before its chassis mate the Sierra Cosworth and Cosworth RS500 were raced worldwide.

    Although it didnít take out its championship in IMSA until 1988 (and arguably was just a shell on a space frame chassis) the XR4Ti found itself homologated for race duty in DTM and the BTCC where it took out the 1985 BTCC crown at the hands of Andy Rouse.

    Hereís where I get to start reaching. As previously mentioned the XR4Ti is effectively the same chassis as its European counterpart the Ford Sierra. Now those cars got lucky and ended up going under the knife at the hands of Cosworth (and lesser known Tickford) to be turned into the ultimate Group A weapon.

    The Cosworth RS500 became the defacto choice in the BTCC for their Class A races. It also took out championships in the DTM, ATCC and the JTCC (Super GTís predecessor). However the while it matched and beat the like of the Mercedes 2.3-16 Cosworth, BMW E30 M3 and the Nissan Skyline R31 GTS-T. The introduction of the R32 GT-R however was too much for the little RWD Sierra to handle.

    Ford even put the Sierra Cosworth into the rally world as they had nothing else on hand to fill the gap after Group B was ended.

    So while I may be reaching a bit in comparing my pedestrian North American spec XR4Ti to the awesome Sierra Cosworth RS500 but thatís all just motivation for the plans that I have for my car which you lot will get to see in my next post coming up soon!

    Bonus image:

  • #2
    Excellent. My partners grandfather worked for Ford at Dagenham motors, were about 15-20 miles away. Plenty of them still going, all smell like theyíre burning oil!
    If you need any help getting parts out the UK send me a PM.
    Iíve probably got pictures of some racing at goodwood.
    P510 Bluebird SSS Coupe


    • #3
      Post two! Where I show off my junk and attempt to explain what my damage actually is. Of course, Iíll fail at that but it should be a good time for all involved.
      This past year I learned something about myself. Every time I go through a break up I buy a junk car that I really want. A bunch of years ago I bought a rusted out í72 240Z because I wanted it and it was pretty cheap. Because of the body work required I havenít done anything with that but hey, theyíre climbing slowly in price so I can sit on it. As for this last break up I bought a busted up 1987 Merkur XR4Ti that wouldnít move under its own power for a whopping $500.

      Of course being as it didnít move I was taking it on faith that the kid I bought it from had a clue about what he was dealing with when he told me that it was the clutch that went on it. So I chuck it up on the hoist and pull the transmission out to discover that it was in fact the clutch!

      And what a clutch destruction it was! The inside of the bell housing looked like a bird was trying to nest in there. Sadly I missed taking a picture of that but it was something. I got right to putting it all back together.

      Now I had big plans to take care of some other more minor issues over the winter like stopping it from leaking out of everywhere and stripping the interior and start prepping to put a cage in but it snowed so much this year that the damn thing got buried and sat waiting right up until this week.

      Thatís where Iím at right now with it, it moves, runs fairly well and in the next post Iíll tell you all about why these things may be the bargain of the century if youíre in the USA or Canada
      Cheers Guys!


      • #4
        Originally posted by KiKiIchiBan View Post
        Excellent. My partners grandfather worked for Ford at Dagenham motors, were about 15-20 miles away. Plenty of them still going, all smell like they’re burning oil!
        If you need any help getting parts out the UK send me a PM.
        I’ve probably got pictures of some racing at goodwood.

        Thanks man! I may have to tap you as a resource for some performance suspension as any availability for that on this side of the pond is scarce. Almost everything else is actually pretty well looked after here and the engine... Well I'll be getting to that in my next post.


        • #5
          Welcome back and hereís round three of all the things I want to talk about before we can dig into this little beast and make it into a track car.

          In my last post I said something I truly believe. The Merkur is (for gear heads) probably the bargain of the century. On the surface you have a very comfortable car with reasonable suspension and plenty of power for the layman. But if you scratch below the surface youíll find a car that has an incredible amount of modification documented to turn these cars into incredible speed machines. The Engine.

          This beauty is Fordís 2.3L SOHC in its turbocharged form. Of course we all did a little turbo in the 80ís, I mean I was doing it, you were doing it, hell your aunt Ednas dog was doing it. So itís no surprise that Ford also was sticking the mechanical inhaler on to their pedestrian motors.

          Now much like the JDM guys complain about getting the detuned or lesser versions of their favorite cars Ford did the same thing to the Merkur. Europe got the incredibly engineered 2.0L Cosworth designed DOHC YB engine.

          Luckily in the intervening few decades though, the performance gap has been narrowed by intrepid and crafty businesses and enthusiasts. So as my journey into creating my own personal homage to my favorite Group A race cars of the 80ís and early 90ís.

          Stay boosted my friends!


          • #6
            Damn, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since my last post…

            Unfortunately plans changed not long after swapping out the clutch last year. My lovely GF moved in with me and we started doing renovations around the house and since I like her I decided to make he my Fiance! But that’s boring and not car related so, back to the good stuff.
            While I was under the car I was slapped in the face with a broken driveshaft coupler (also known as a Guibo). So I sourced one of those and promptly threw it in the trunk of the car to get done later.

            Another issue I have is a couple of the wheel studs are damaged somehow. Luckily the brain trust over at Merkur Club have solved that issue by using longer (RACECAR!) wheel studs that are actually listed for a Corvette. This brings up another issue, the lug nuts for the factory wheels are enclosed and the factory wheels use a 45 degree lug seat while everything else uses a 60 degree. So for the time being I’ve decided to run the steel winter wheels and winter tires I got with the car and this summer I’ll show you all the aluminum rims I’ve picked up for it.

            More to come, hopefully sooner than later but who knows what life will throw at me?
            Last edited by PowerTryp; 03-03-2019, 06:31 AM.


            • #7
              It's getting worked on! Don't worry its only a small list. Driveshaft coupler, custom shorty exhaust, full maintenance, bore scope to verify my suspicion of a head gasket leak, panel repair and some new wheels. Oh and I wanna pull all the cladding off the side of the car cause I think that these things look far better without aaaaand I wanna check the rust level and I can't do that with a bunch of plastic in my way.

              Anyway, first things first. Driveshaft back out and on the bench with the new coupler held up to the chunk missing.

              and to drive the point home,

              SHIT! Do you see it? The new coupler (henceforth known as the guibo) isn't the same size as the busted one! A quick check and yup, I ordered the wrong one a long time ago... So another one put on order, the picture looks better and the part # is different. If it's wrong I'm just going to light the car on fire.

              Or maybe I won't, because I've had a couple successes already. The factory lug studs are tiny, like super tiny. If you're looking to swap wheels there's a chance you'll end up short on threads to keep the rubber that meets the road firmly affixed to your car. Also, a lot of sanctioning bodies require threads to show past the lug nut.

              Seriously these things look so cool! AND THEY'RE FUNCTIONAL!

              Oh and the steel wheels I was going to swap the winter tires on to ended up having the wrong bolt pattern. What do you do when the wheels won't fit and the factory wheels will be dangerous to mount? Get the cheapest aluminum wheels you can get your hand on!

              More to come as I'm back on it tomorrow! I'll be insuring and driving this car for the summer and we'll see how much trouble I can get myself into.


              • #8
                Well itís a small update but an update nonetheless! The correct guibo has arrived and Iíve already slotted it together to verify that it is correct. Iíll have a picture on Friday of the assembled unit and somethings can start being reassembled!

                Also I need to pull the pinion flange nut off and use some thread sealant to keep it from seeping differential fluid. Sorry, thatís incorrect. I want to keep it from flinging diff fluid all over the underside of the car. In any normal situation like in a Nissan R200 diff, this would become a pain because you have to reset bearing preload either using a new crush sleeve or marking the nut and pinion so you can get it back exactly as it came apart.

                Ford however was kind and as you can see above, there is an inner pinion nut that sets the preload and collapses the spacer and then an outer nut that retains the pinion flange. From an engineering perspective this is genius but I guess it was too expensive or something to implement on other vehicles.

                Thatís it for now, I still want to do a compression test just to double down on my bore scope check to see if the coolant leaking into cylinder 4. Mount the tires to the new rims and fab up an exhaust.


                • #9
                  NO PICTURE UPDATE! Sorry, I know you all love pictures and I have failed you! I will strive to do better.

                  Regardless, the pinion seal has been replaced and the nut and flange should be sealed up, drive shaft is back together and in the vehicle. Also I mounted the tires I have on to the new rims pictured earlier. I couldn't do the compression test as I learned that the threads for the spark plugs don't actually start until about a centemeter into the hole, beyond where the compression tester threads end...

                  So we're into the home strech, mounting the Aluminum overflow tank and seeing about pulling the cladding off to asses the rust. I've got no qualms about driving it with rusty rockers so once the cooling system is set I'll register it and as the kids say these days "SEND IT!"

                  Cross your fingers that its just the head gasket and not a cracked head.

                  More pictures to come! Promise.


                  • #10
                    More progress! Old problems fixed! New problems found! Project life!

                    This past weekend I got some more things done, yanked the cladding off and Iíll have pictures of the body soon for you all.

                    I also mounted the coolant tank but got a picture of it before actually having it mounted.

                    Also since my picture game is weak lately, I snapped an image of the og lug nuts alongside the replacements for the new wheels. I donít really care about shiny but the new ones look like a normal nut as opposed to the 80ís weird seat lug.

                    Also I mounted and balanced the tires on the new rims and with the crusty exhaust off the car I took it for a spin. This little run provided me with a couple other issuesÖ The coolant drain from the turbo leaks at the block but thatís just a small piece of hose and, the waste gate actuator is shot. The good news is that the overboost buzzer works great. However in the interest of not grenading this engine before I have a chance to thrash it Iíll hold off on driving it until I can get that fixed.

                    Weíre close people! Iíll have some pictures of my home made shorty exhaust soon as I couldnít get it finished on the weekend.

                    Till the next time! Something something.


                    • #11
                      Alrighty boys and girls, finished welding the exhaust up and well, it's crusty as to be expected because I am not a welder but it was good experience and I would like to try again but with 3" piping later on if the car survives.

                      So now I wait for the wastegate actuator to come and until then it sits. This weekend I'm meeting up with my 924 friend to do firearms things so nothing will happen and the weekend after I'll be picking up a couple more items including the wastegate actuator in the states. I'm on fire to get this car driving so I can have some fun with it so I'll be bringing more to this story and pictures soon enough!.



                      • #12
                        Effin eh boys (and girls) effin eh. I managed to get some pictures of the beast sitting on its own four wheels for once and aside from being dirty, a bit rusty and needing all the cladding rivets removed and sealed up it doesnít look half bad!

                        Iím also a little surprised at how good these wheels look on the thing. The rears could due to use another 5-10 mm more positive offset but beyond that, not too shabby.

                        Thatís all for now, this coming weekend Iím away and Iíll be picking up some parts which will let me finish the initial repairs and we can get to thrashing the car instead of thrashing on it.

                        Also thank you to everyone who reads this but doesnít comment, I see the view count climb and I appreciate it especially as Iím doing this in an obscure and odd place.


                        • #13
                          Just a small update today with images found online because in my excitement to get this thing sorted I didn't even think about pulling my phone out of my pocket. First link in the overboost correcting chain is the leaking waste gate actuator. Ordered in from Merkur Depot it looks like this.

                          But no! of course it couldn’t be that easy! So if the waste gate is good then there has to be a vacuum leak somewhere. I found one at the vacuum reservoir where a line came off but that wasn’t the only issue. So I capped a couple ports and plumbed some new line in there and that sorted it. I also added an eight dollar boost controller.

                          After a little bit of ‘road tuning” I got it settled in to about 15 psi and proceeded to do a burnout on the concrete pad in front of the shop… Sorry dad.

                          I’ll get some engine bay pics after I’ve cleaned it up some as I want to yank the nonworking AC out and find out where other oil is seeping from now that the major leaks are sorted. Also I’ll be moving onto sourcing and sorting my suspension bits as these cars are incredibly soft in the hopes that Ford could bridge the gap from your traditional Lincoln/Mercury customer to more of a European focused consumer.

                          Last edited by PowerTryp; 04-22-2019, 06:22 PM.


                          • #14
                            SITREP. The car is insured and registered so I gave it a maiden voyage this weekend.

                            The good! Well the little 2.3L fires right up and barely cranks a full turn to do so which is just incredible to me. Also my home brew exhaust isnít completely obnoxious and actually the sunroof rattle is worse than the drone. Some good news in the fuel gauge not working is actually an intermittent issue and when itís dead cold the gauge reads. So thereís a connection somewhere not connecting when itís warm but that should be a relatively easy fix.

                            The not so great! The car is sooooft. Like pillow top made of jello soft. So itís not a particularly engaging drive but I knew being stock/worn out that it was going to be like that. Also the car pulls to the left somewhat aggressively on the highway but Iíll attribute that to the overactive PS pump and worn out bushingsÖ

                            So whatís next? Well everything to turn this into a drivers car. Suspension, brakes, bushings, seats, steering wheel, maybe somebody and paint work as well as MOAR POWAH!

                            This will be an ongoing project as time and money permits so there will be intermittent updates and hopefully some more pictures.

                            P.S. Stupidity got the better of me the other morning and I managed to lock the doors with the key in the ignitionÖ Surprisingly easy cars to break into with a couple simple tools. No Iím not going to tell you how I did it.