The Scorpio that got away: Dashed dreams of mercurial European luxury
Being a small-time collector of 1970s–90s Ford products, mostly of the obscure variety, has its merits. Writing about them online for 17 years earns you a modicum of notoriety. While I’ve never lusted for the Americanized variant of the Mk. III Ford Granada, the Merkur Scorpio has a tangential connection to the 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia I imported from the UK. So yes, I want a Scorpio to go with my Sierra, but I’m not dying to make that happen.
Then, out of the blue, our very own Hagerty Community user CJinSD found a fantastic example of Ford of Europe’s executive car from the 1980s:
Hi Sajeev. I couldn’t figure out how to get in touch with you, so I’m posting this here. GuysWithRides had an 85K mile Merkur Scorpio in Orlando that I thought you might be interested in. The price isn’t ridiculous too.
Any Merkur Scorpio priced at $1750 is worth a closer look, post haste. Naturally, I lost my marbles when I reached the Craigslist ad and saw the quality photos and well-composed text. Be it a depreciated Camry or any form of specialty vehicle, either of those features indicates a quality car sold by a thoughtful seller without the needless markup of a specialty classic car retailer.
I loved the upgraded metallic paint and the Touring Package (leather, moonroof, trip computer) and the A4LD automatic certainly wasn’t a deal-breaker at this price point. I’d certainly prefer the (very rare) stickshift, but getting this much flagship Ford perfection for under two grand? I’d couldn’t pass up that chance.
Even better, I have a friend that lives 45 minutes away from the Scorpio seller. He understands, embraces, and encourages the lifestyle of making poor choices via old-car purchases. Once my enabler was on board and making plans to inspect the car, I scoped the photos even closer. The Scorpio was in good shape, dated from the final year of production (1989), and had low miles (85K)—but it wasn’t perfect. The passenger-side headlight assembly looked a little yellowed and chalky compared to the other side. Maybe it had been wrecked, but not badly enough to send this undesirable classic to the scrapper. Aged plastics are a fact of life for most automobile collectors. Let’s see what my eBay-fu can find.
ZOMG SON! Fifty bucks with free shipping? By now my passing interest in Merkur Scorpios turned into the same passion that made me spend ungodly amounts of money restoring a 1989 Lincoln Continental—a sum which I spent with no regrets—and the Scorpio was certainly a better car, according to most metrics.
Similar to those who shelter a rescue animal, I’m a sucker for an underrated luxury car that normally lives in fear, waiting for the moment it is one dead battery away from the junkyard. I wanted this Scorpio badly—to the point at which I was putting parts (like that headlight) into an eBay shopping cart. I was on the verge of texting my friends and/or former co-workers in the collision repair industry for a special favor to address the spoiler’s failed clearcoat.
This interior looked close to new, and it was only $1750? If this leather interior doesn’t have you swooning, consider the fact that Scorpios had dual power-reclining rear seats. I couldn’t wait to experience them … if they still worked!
The seller stated that the Scorpio’s A/C didn’t work, and the expensive compressor ($300+) was likely what pushed the current owner to list it online. A clean and tidy under-hood shot is always a good indication of a well maintained vehicle, but it didn’t stop me dreaming of a 2.9-liter OHV to 4.0-liter SOHC swap from a late ’90s Ford Explorer/Ranger. Maybe even do the four-speed to five-speed automatic swap—the latter’s shockingly quick second gear makes for impressive accelerative squirts in Ford’s small utilities. I would have raised my standards when dreaming a little dream, but even in stock form, I was eager to embrace that Cologne V-6 life.
Then reality sunk in. My friend couldn’t meet the seller the first weekend and works overtime every subsequent weekday. And wouldn’t you know it? Someone else swooped in during the week and splashed the cash. I didn’t express my distaste to my friend, but clearly he should’ve prioritized my Blue-Oval based whims ahead of a paying gig.
While saddened by the missed opportunity—the chance, perhaps, of saving the Merkur from an owner that’ll scrap it in a matter of months—I take comfort in the fact it wasn’t what I really, really want.
One day, I will get that 1986–88 Mercury Sable LS sedan for my collection of unloved Fords. Maybe I’ll find the super 1980s, monochrome White Night special edition … Time will tell, but for now, I have this framed photo and a cheesy Miami Vice knock-off montage to go with it: