Friday, October 25, 2013
The Ford Probe
This car was supposed to be the 1989 Ford Mustang. But when word got out that the Mustang would move to a front wheel drive Mazda platform, the public freaked. The backlash was so severe Ford hastily updated the Mustang and instead launched this car as the Probe.
The second generation car was introduced in 1993 and built on the model's success. After Ford ditched the 3.0 liter Vulcan V6 for an early version of the 24 valve Duratec V6, performance improved as well. As a result of these changes, the Probe won a number of accolades from the automotive press, including Motor Trend's Car of the Year.
I've driven a number of Ford Probes over the years, from the base GL model to the turbo and V6 GT models. They were all remarkable cars with a good mix of handling, power, and economy. I'd have taken a Probe over just about any car in that segment, except for maybe the Acura Integra or Mitsubishi Eclipse.
Ironically, the launch of the 1994 Mustang was the death knell for the Probe. Sales dwindled from 120,000 sold in 1993 to just 16,000 by 1997. Overall, I think it was a good car with a bad name. Style wise it's held up better than MC Hammer and a lot of other things from the early 1990's, including parachute pants and mullets.