In 1983 Ford's long term strategy for Touring Cars was to develop what would become the Sierra Cosworth. However, with their outdated Capris being humiliated regularly, the North American market's Merkur XR4Ti, with its 2.3-litre 4-cylinder S.O.H.C 'Lima' engine, offered a quick solution and had greater tuning potential than the European V6 engined Sierra XR4i.
Engineer and driver Andy Rouse was engaged to develop the car, which was not homologated until 1st April 1985. Andy duly drove the Merkur to its maiden victory just days later at Oulton Park in the Championship’s 2nd round. He went on to dominate, winning 9 of the remaining 11 races.