Home » The Correct Pronunciation Of Merkur: Cold Start

The Correct Pronunciation Of Merkur: Cold Start

Merkur Xrt4ti
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Adrian’s excellent design breakdown of the Ford Sierra reminded me of my old car, the Merkur XR4Ti I bought from Rutledge Wood (that he, himself, bought from Tanner Foust/the Top Gear America production company). I really liked that car and it brought some interesting stories out of people.

If you don’t know the Merkur XR4Ti, the basic story is that Bob Lutz and Ford of Europe thought America needed a competitor for all those sporty BMWs, Saabs and Audis suddenly capturing the attention of architects and yuppies.

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There wasn’t enough money to make something of their own so, of course, the company looked to their own German operations.

Merkur Xr4tiFord was making some interesting cars in Cologne, including the Ford Sierra coupe. Why not just import that car? Rather than make it a Ford… or a Lincoln… or a Mercury, they’d start a new brand with the German name for the Roman God Mercury (i.e. Hermes in Greek mythology).

For some reason, the company also insisted on the German pronunciation of the name. I’d seen a few Merkurs growing up and in my mind, they were Murr-kurrs, as if someone had gagged your mouth and asked you to say “Merv’s Cars.”

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This was apparently incorrect. The correct way to say it is Mare-koor.

You can even see it in the brochure from the company:

Howtosaymerkur

A friend of mine who worked in marketing for Lincoln-Mercury at the time said the company had a helluva time getting the salespeople to say it correctly and to do so they created an image. It was of a horse (mare) and of a bottle of Coors beer (Coor).

I’m guessing it didn’t work because the brand didn’t last (the appreciation of the German Deutschmark probably didn’t help), but it does make me laugh to think about a bunch of car sales bros getting phonetic advice in picture form.

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JJ
JJ
4 months ago

Want another one? I have 2 very nice problem free ones in Ohio.

Matt Keyser
Matt Keyser
4 months ago

Hey Matt it’s Matt! I bought your XR around 10 years ago, crazy to think it’s been that long! I miss it dearly…. Despite its faults haha

Oldskool
Oldskool
4 months ago

Never had a problem pronouncing it correctly, considering all the commercials I saw for the Merkur Scorpio.

I always thought the XR4Ti was one of the sexiest cars ever. I was surprised to learn it was rear wheel drive. There was a white one that used to run around town. I later dated the girl who owned it, but after she had dumped it because apparently it was the biggest pile of shit and was always in the shop. Which explains why I saw it parked at the shop more than anywhere else.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
4 months ago

Horse Piss!

Slownoma
Slownoma
4 months ago

Hörsé Pïß

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
4 months ago

As Americans, we can’t even agree on how to pronounce distinctly American words! Don’t expect us to coordinate for pronouncing imported words!

LTDScott
LTDScott
4 months ago

Ha, a friend of mine was the “buyer” of that same XR4Ti on that particular episode of Top Gear USA.

LTDScott
LTDScott
4 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Yep. He’s a Ford nerd in San Diego and has his own XR4Ti and a sweet Fox Mustang notchback, which is how he caught wind of it. So he was shown as the buyer at the dealership, but of course he got outbid when actually trying to buy it, by you, apparently.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
4 months ago

Someone in my hometown had one of these when I was a little kid. I didn’t know much about it, but the family who owned it were very cool, so I had assumed that they picked up a European-market Mercury car that wasn’t available stateside as a big-ticket souvenir on an overseas vacation.

“Merkur” was never particularly difficult for me to pronounce, but I’ve struggled with “XR4Ti” before. At one time, I thought it was pronounced “zer-AHH-tee” and wondered: “Wait, is that a ‘Maserati’ and people have actually been saying ‘My XR4Ti’ all this time???

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

Why did so many of us pronounce it that way?!?

John Crouch
John Crouch
4 months ago

I had a Black Scorpio 5 Speed, beautiful cool car lots of storage-Got a keg in the back with the hatch closed! Loved that car, fast enough distinctive looking super comfortable.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
4 months ago

Peugeot has been around for 200 years, but nobody outside of France can seem to get the pronunciation right on that one either…

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
4 months ago

I had a friend who pronounced it “Pwee Got”. Always killed me, lol

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago

I would also nominate Poo-jee-ott’s French brother, Sitrowan.

Jbavi
Jbavi
4 months ago

I was at a county fair horse show once as a kid, where there was a fun mix of country rubes and posh horse people and we all had a laugh at the announcement over the loudspeaker asking someone to “Please move your Pig-Ott, it’s blocking someone in”

Phyrkrakr
Phyrkrakr
4 months ago

I couldn’t figure out what the hell Clarkson was talking about with his “per joes” until I saw the nameplate and figured out he meant “pew jots”

Citrus
Citrus
4 months ago

The trick with french pronunciation is that you don’t pronounce half the letters.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
4 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Same as London English, but sexier.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
4 months ago

It’s not that hard either. Puh (rhymes with duh) + Joe (where the J is pronounced zh, like the s in “vision,” not actually Joe).

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
4 months ago

About 5 years ago my bestie and I came back to the shop after a day of autocross when one of the techs excitedly announced he’d found a litter of newborn kittens in the bak of his XR4Ti parts car! As a suckered for all things fluffy, I kept an eye on them over the next week or so till mama stopped being seen around. At that point, I scooped the 8 or so fuzzballs into a box and took them to the local no-kill cat shelter, but not before offering them around. My sister in law adopted the blackest, fluffiest one and named her Merkur. These days she is adorable, but has every bit of the attitude you might imagine of a cat born in the back of an XR4Ti in an industrial/trailer park neighborhood

10001010
10001010
4 months ago

So I’ve been pronouncing it correctly all along (yay me!) but I never realized Merkur was supposed to be a separate brand and have always called these “Mercury Merkur XR4Ti-s”

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago
Reply to  10001010

One of the all time oddest brand name choices, considering Ford could have just called it a Mercury.
Like if GM made a new brand called Kadilla and insisting it rhymes with Tortilla.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Mercury was American and for old people, Merkur was supposed to be German and for yuppies who wouldn’t be caught dead in something American. Ideally, Ford would have just bought a real foreign brand instead of making up a fake one, but they were frustrated on that front until Jaguar .

But, yeah, just translating an existing brand into German was pretty lazy

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Lazy and confusing. I speak decent German and have a hard time adjusting my mouth to the German pronunciation when talking about Merkurs (not a particularly common thing, admittedly).

Jeff Grimmett
Jeff Grimmett
4 months ago

That weird biplane spoiler on the back somehow made it to the Mustang after that. My first fox-body was a 4-banger with some sort of handling package that the dealer was really desperate to get off the lot. Got a great deal and drove it into the ground.

It was like a GT body / suspension with an econobox engine / drivetrain but it was a lot of fun to drive. It had that biplane spoiler too. Always a great conversation starter.

Dug Deep
Dug Deep
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Grimmett

You had an SVO? My high school dream car!

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
4 months ago
Reply to  Dug Deep

Same, only take “high school” out of that sentence.

Also, knowing that Rutledge Wood and Hardigree owned an XR4Ti makes me like them even more.

Last edited 4 months ago by Geoff Buchholz
Dug Deep
Dug Deep
4 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

I was born during the Pleistocene.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
4 months ago
Reply to  Dug Deep

Mesozoic here, and my point was that it still IS a dream car for me.

Jeff Grimmett
Jeff Grimmett
4 months ago
Reply to  Dug Deep

No, it had PARTS of an SVO. Damndest thing I ever saw.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Grimmett

This is hilarious – like seeing a nanny driving an M5 with kids in the back. The opposite of “I know what I’ve got”.

The SVO was the ultimate Mustang of the time. It probably would have been a huge hit if they had put a hot 302 or 351 in it, but they went for balance by dropping in the turbo 4 cyl.

I had a friend who had one at the same time I had a Mustang GT. It handled way better than my GT but was slightly slower in a drag race (which is all we really cared about at the time).

Last edited 4 months ago by Mr. Canoehead
Canyonsvo
Canyonsvo
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Grimmett

I’ve owned numerous SVOs over the years. In fact, I own one now. My older brother had the XR4Ti. I think the bi-wing originated with the SVO since it came out in 1984 and the Merkur came in 1985.

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Grimmett

I was going to tell you that the SVO had that biplane wing first, but it looks like I was only aware of the SVO wing first. They were both officially released in 1984.

William Domer
William Domer
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Grimmett

My younger brother bought one in blue. I drove it (hooned it). When you floored it to get the turbo up you could watch the petrol gauge plummet. It was a fuking cool car.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
4 months ago

There oughta be a rule that you’re not allowed to own or operate a vehicle unless you can correctly pronounce its name. This is absurd, of course, but it would make DMV lines more entertaining.

10001010
10001010
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Oh geebus I’m already imagining the pretentiousness emanating from the Porsche line as they practice their pronunciation on each other before they get to the counter.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

The French preemptively don’t sell in North America, just in case this rule is ever enacted.

Gregory Haberek
Gregory Haberek
4 months ago

I miss having an XR4Ti. Best feature? The hand-crank sunroof! ????

Torque
Torque
4 months ago

Original mk1 vw gti had a hand crank moon roof too, at least in the US

Hiram McDaniel
Hiram McDaniel
4 months ago
Reply to  Torque

Lot’s of BMWs did as well. My old 320is had one, and the handle would just occasionally fall off. But only when it was parked, never when it was being driven. Who knows?

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago
Reply to  Hiram McDaniel

It’s the ultimate driving machine. What it does when it’s parked is none of your business.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

Merkur was really one part of Ford’s wider fixation on acquiring an upscale European brand in the 1980s, they also tried to buy Alfa Romeo off the Italian government in 1986 and Rover Group off the British government in 1988, and finally succeeded in taking over Jaguar Cars in 1989.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
4 months ago

Shoulda crammed the 302 into it
shoulda been a Mercury
shoulda been around longer

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
4 months ago

I’m not sure many of us are pronouncing Hyundai correctly either, and they’re ubiquitous.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago

According to the company, the US pronunciation is correct. They even launched an ad campaign in the UK to get them to stop saying HI UN DIE. I think in Korean there’s a bit more emphasis on the ‘y’, but otherwise, we aren’t doing too terribly on that one.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

I think most people just pronounce it the way Hyundai America tells us to in TV commercials, it might still be wrong, but it’s the company’s own fault if it is

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

They had a line of commercials at one point that actually had the tag line “Hyundai… like Sunday” and lots of angry people screaming it and trying to burn it into our brains.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY-5dn3t4xM

Last edited 4 months ago by Rad Barchetta
AlterId
AlterId
4 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Perhaps a bit shouty, but probably better for sales and image than if they’d picked Morrissey as spokesman for that campaign.

https://youtu.be/bf6Xwb03jTE

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
4 months ago
Reply to  AlterId

Or U2… Hyundai Bloody Hyundai!!!!!

Last edited 4 months ago by Rad Barchetta
Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
4 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched a commercial. I actually had to look it up after commenting this and apparently in America we are to pronounce it rhyming with Sunday. The correct Korean pronunciation just doesn’t roll off the tongue for us ‘Muricans. I looked up the UK pronunciation and said “yeah, I could see Jeremy Clarkson pronouncing it like that…”

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

“I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched a commercial”

I wish I could say the same. There is one insidious one for cat treats that keeps popping up on my AP freevee shows. I wish it would stop. I don’t buy cat treats. Those that I know who do have fat cats. That commercial is really annoying and it keeps popping up. Avoid freevee else risk your username checking out.

Codfangler
Codfangler
4 months ago

When Hyundai first entered the US market, there was a story in at least one US periodical stating that, after Hyundai hired a person to run its US sales arm, he had a meeting with their CEO. When the newly appointed US sales executive said he thought that it would be a good idea to pronounce Hyundai to rhyme with Sunday, rather than using the Korean pronunciation, the CEO asked him how many cars he could sell in a year, the reply was “100,000.” The CEO responded with words to the effect of “(I)f you can sell 100,000 cars a year, you can call them anything you want to.”

I think that this story, even if it is not true, it is so good that it should be.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Codfangler

When Hyundai first entered the US market most people called them something else. They weren’t wrong.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago

I change the way I say it each time, rotating through Hun-day, Hyun-day, Hi-un-day, Hi-un-dai, etc.
An Accent is usually just Hunday, but a Tiburon or Genesis Coupe gets a more flashy pronunciation.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
4 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

I sometimes watch Korean Hyundai adverts on YouTube just to get an idea of the pronunciation, and I swear it’s different in every clip.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
4 months ago

You got a good friends circle!

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
4 months ago

As with the Capri (please don’t call it “Mercury Capri” until the Fox-body era) and the De Tomaso Pantera, these were cars that Ford Motor Company wanted to sell, but didn’t want to sell them at Ford dealers, so they foisted them upon Lincoln-Mercury dealers – who had absolutely zero skill at working with the sorts of customers who wanted cars like these. Fail.

Last edited 4 months ago by Eggsalad
Cool Dave
Cool Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

I love those early Capris!

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

I loved my 1978 Capri (yes, people will tell you that the Euro Capri was only sold until the 1977 MY, but mine was titled as a 1978).

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago

The first time I saw one of these, I thought the 4 was a capital A, and the car name was pronounced “zr-AH-tee”.

Not my proudest moment…

Ron Latva
Ron Latva
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Mine was X-Ratty…

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago
Reply to  Ron Latva

Close enough…

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
4 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

A friend of mine in high school called them “Zurfer-Tees.”

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
4 months ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Also acceptable.

Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
4 months ago

“German Deutschmark” makes no sense. “German Mark” is enough, as “Deutsch” means German.

Buzz
Buzz
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

Can you get German Deutschmarks from the ATM machine? Don’t forget your PIN number!

Outofstep
Outofstep
4 months ago
Reply to  Buzz

My eye started to twitch reading this

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

Attempting to differentiate it from the East German Mark, possibly?

Data
Data
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

I drive a Mazda Mazda 6 so I see no issue with a German German Mark.

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
4 months ago

If pronunciation of your brand name isn’t intuitive you’re in trouble from the start

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

not quite the same, but I know enough people who say “oddy” and “porsh” that I think Americans just can’t wrap their heads around German pronunciations.

Drew
Drew
4 months ago

I think you’re right. Heckler & Koch is another one. They went so far as to create a separate American pronunciation to prevent a specific mispronunciation (the second word, for Americans, is pronounced “coke”).

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I use the German pronunciation for “Aldi” cause it’s… German. People think I’m having a stroke, I stg. It’s a bit of a shame (we all know why, obviously) that Germans in the US hid their culture to the point it’s basically vanished, and nobody has any idea how much German influence still exists in this country today.

But again, Spanish and Latinx peoples are very proud of their heritage, everyone knows it when they see it, and still, (generally white) Americans say “polo” instead of “pollo”. So maybe it’s just a stupidity thing.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago

Well considering how successful Americans have been in controlling the global economy, for generations, it’s clearly not stupidity. More likely, it’s simple ignorance, or cultural chauvinism, in most cases. Americans are by and large not multilingual because they don’t have to be. Rather than alter themselves to be able to fit in other places, they require others to alter themselves to fit in here.

This is a somewhat different thing than stupidity.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

oh, we’re talking about a distinctly different class of people here. but otherwise, not at all incorrect.

Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
4 months ago

People who speak English as their native language (not limited to US Americans) often have a hard time wrapping their heads around ANY pronunciations except the ones of their variant of English.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

thats probably very true. from what I’ve seen though, muricans generally seem to think they’re right when corrected, whereas other people do not. especially baffling since the “au” in Audi and “-e” in Porsche are both sounds already prevalent in English. It’s not that they can’t pronounce them, it’s that they refuse to. That’s what irks me.

*I am an murican fyi

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

Part of it is, whenever a certain incorrect pronunciation becomes established and commonplace, attempting to pronounce it correctly makes you look pretentious, so even people who “know better” still tend to go with the flow. Lots of Altria sales reps refer to Pall Mall cigarettes as “paul maul”, for example, since that’s become the commonly accepted pronunciation over the past 20-30 years and they’re not going to go through the same spiel of correcting gas station owners every single time meet

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

And then you get the group claiming, “There are enough people pronouncing it this way or using the grammar this way, so it should be the new ‘correct way’.” Ugh!
If millions of people are wrong, they are, by definition, still WRONG!!!

Citrus
Citrus
4 months ago
Reply to  SlowCarFast

What if they’re Elvis fans? Because I have it on good authority that 50,000,000 Elvis fans CAN’T be wrong!

But also, language is a living entity and people from centuries ago would be horrified by everything we say. Also, everyone pronounces words following the conventions of their own language.

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
4 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

also, language is a living entity 

I know,- people keep telling me that!

It’s just that if people are making changes that make it more difficult to communicate, then it is just change for the sake of change. I HATE that. I live that concept through all of the companies I’ve worked-for.

(Since it has been over 4 years, I’m sure my former employer changed the name of my former department again. New notepads, business cards, and placards for everybody!!!)

Last edited 4 months ago by SlowCarFast
Martin Ibert
Martin Ibert
4 months ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Maybe in the US. We have been buying Peugeots, Citroëns, Renaults, Lancias and so on since like forever, and while many people totally butcher the names of the brands, sales have probably not suffered from that.

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
4 months ago
Reply to  Martin Ibert

I haven’t seen this Isuzu commercial since 1981, but I’ve never forgotten it.

https://youtu.be/H_soUM9Oxoc?si=aScI5f3b9SsMKAci

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