As I’m southward bound, sitting in a train cab for the next four hours, I have good time to go through photos and contribute – the train car is fairly silent, with my typing only disturbed by the occasional visits by the ticket inspector who could pass for Steve Buscemi’s stunt double. The sun is slowly setting, Finnish countryside is surrounding me, but my gaze is fixed on this mundane silver Scorpio on my laptop screen.
By 1989, Ford’s Merkur venture was packing its bags. The XR4Ti and its larger cousin Scorpio had been an unsuccessful attempt to introduce German aero styling into the US Ford lineup, but somehow they never caught on despite (or due to) having a strong family resemblance to the Tempo and Taurus. Exchange rates and lack of pricetag-justifying premium appeal axed the German cousins after only two years on the market.
This 2.0-litre Scorpio I shot in a parking garage doesn’t pretend to be premium. It’s grey-brown, it has basic specification, there’s utilitarian black plastic at every corner. It blends in with its concrete surroundings.
And instead of the 2.9-litre Cologne V6 the Stateside-destined brethren had, this Euro Scorpio is powered by the base-spec OHC Pinto four – 1989 being the last year the Scorpio was available with it, as it was phased out in favour of the I4 DOHC. But a plate data check confirms there’s a NRI-series, fuel-injected Pinto four there, producing 85kW or 114 horses with Bosch L-Jetronic.
Even if it looks like the Ford’s leaking fluids, the liquid on the concrete floor is just meltwater.
I’ve always found the SCORPIO badge typeface curiously jubilant. It also takes almost half of the trunklid’s width.
I’m wondering if the dollar store wheel trims being present only on the rear wheels are to signify the drive wheels. Also, the exhaust’s downward bend almost exactly mirrors the tow bar’s upward shape.
The Scorpio’s side profile works and doesn’t work at the same time. It’s a natural evolution of the Sierra’s design, continuing the roofline and rear flanks where the Sierra ended. It’s bulkier in every sense, and the rear side window’s tops are almost at wagon height until the rearmost side glass wraps things up. It resembles the Probes, but somehow none of the three variants (sedan, hatch, wagon) really work as well as the Sierra does, especially when said Sierra is anything XR and has the trick, split rear side glass. Especially the sedan Scorpio just has too much trunk.
The rear spoiler almost seems extraneous here, but the rest of the car’s detailing is so unfussy it can stay where it is.
From this angle, a quick look always mis-identifies the Scorpio as a facelift Sierra. The front corners are identical. The Merkur XR4ti never got the flush headlights, but the TV screen ones, so it and the Scorpio aren’t as easily confused.
With the Scorpio and Safrane featured, I’m eager to jot down the rest of the large Euro saloons of the same class. Gotta be an Opel Omega next.
Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen