Ford Scorpio is First Produced
The Ford Scorpio is an executive car produced by the Ford Motor Company at its factory in Cologne, Germany between 1985 and 1998.
Known within Ford by its codename DE-1, it replaced the Ford Granada. Although the car was still badged Granada in the United Kingdom, the Scorpio badge only was used on the top-of-the range versions (hence the Granada Scorpio) until 1994, when it was replaced by a revised car which was known universally as the Scorpio. It was awarded the accolade of European Car of the Year in 1986.
Engineering-wise, the Scorpio was heavily based on the Sierra, sitting on a stretched version of its floorpan, and using a similar styling philosophy set by both the Sierra and the third generation Escort. Under the bonnet were well-proven engines, starting with the venerable Pinto engine unit in 1.8 L and 2.0 L capacities, as well as the V6 Cologne engine in 2.4 L, 2.8 L, and later 2.9 L displacements. By 1989, both the Pinto engines had been dropped, with an 8-valve DOHC engine replacing the 2.0 L model.
The Scorpio was intended to maintain Ford's position in Europe as the principal alternative to a Mercedes or BMW for those looking to own an executive car. To this end Ford built on the already extensive specification available on the outgoing MkII Granada (which for the period, was available with some very special equipment such as leather heated electrically adjustable seats, air conditioning, electric sunroof, trip computer etc) by adding some very fresh technology for the mass market. Improvements available included; heated windscreen, Cruise Control and all wheel drive which all made their first appearance on a European Ford. The car was very comfortable (slightly let down by seats without good back support) and had excellent rear legroom, but surprisingly little lateral headroom. The biggest advance of the Scorpio was that it was the first mass-market European car to have anti-lock braking system standard across the whole range.
Unlike the Granada, it was initially only available as a hatchback, and not as a saloon or estate. This proved to be a mistake for Ford, which later introduced a saloon version in 1990, and the estate appeared two years later. There were few engineering changes over the years, notably the introduction of the DOHC engines in 1989, and the Scorpio Cosworth with a 2.9 L 24-valve Cosworth V6 the following year. The Cosworth Engine has become a choice upgrade for many Ford Sierra owners with many Granadas being broken up to provide these power plants, it became a cheap and easy way to obtain 200+ BHP. Some of these engines have also been turbocharged and versions of the engine ( FBE ) were also used in motorsport.
The Cosworth was both large and fast, which consequently gave it heavy fuel consumption. Many owners often commented at the fact that 25 miles per gallon was about as much as you could get out of a car with this engine. Prop-shaft deterioration over time was also considered to be a problem on early Mark I and II Cosworths.
The second generation Scorpio was made available in saloon or estate styles only, and had largely the same floorpan as its predecessor as well as all of the same engines that were in use at the end of the first generation's run. Many suspension and handling improvements were made between the first and second generations (including self-levelling rear suspension on the estates). It was also radically re-styled both inside and outside.
Inside the car were new arm-chair style seats and improved interior quality, but outside the new look was controversial. The car sported bulbous headlights and its tail lights were arranged in a thin line just above the bumper. Unusually, Ford never released the name of the designer and maintain to this day that the car outsold its expected figures (although they never released what those figures actually were). The bulging headlights and wide grill were defended by some who felt that this made it look less like a minicab, but the public and press reaction to the design was largely negative.
The French took to calling it a grenouille triste (sad frog) and Jeremy Clarkson wrote in The Times at the time that this car ended any argument as to which was the ugliest on the road. In Richard Porter's 2004 book Crap Cars the Scorpio Mark II was listed as number 49 (of 50) on looks alone. Quentin Willson said in a 1997 Top Gear episode that the 'sad-eyed Scorpio is so heroically ugly, it was obviously designed by Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.'
On the DVD special Clarkson: Heaven and Hell, Clarkson set up a jousting contest between a Scorpio — which he described as "a wide-mouthed frog" - and a Triumph TR7, eventually destroying both cars via head-on collision.
In early 1998 the Scorpio was facelifted, with darker headlight surrounds and a more subtle grille, to tone down the front end of the car. The rear lights were also revised to make the rear of the car less bulbous. This was to be the last development for the model, which finished production over the summer of 1998. Many Scorpios were still in stock at this point however, with at least two years elapsing between the end of production and the sale of the very last model.
Whether or not the car genuinely made Ford's sales expectations, the shifting European car market at the end of the 1990s meant that it has not, so far, been replaced. This was not unusual at the time, with trends towards either high-spec large family cars for executives or towards multi-purpose vehicles for families. Other manufacturers were doing the same, such as Vauxhall/Opel choosing not to replace the Omega and Honda ceasing Legend sales in Europe. Meanwhile the Rover 800 was also retired in 1999 in favour of the smaller Rover 75. Some of the big executive cars (such as the Legend) have since been brought back, though Ford has not, as yet, announced any plans to make another Scorpio-sized car for the European market.
Manufacturer Ford Motor Company
Assembly Cologne, Germany
Predecessor Ford Granada
Successor Ford Mondeo
Class Executive car
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
5-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Related Ford Sierra