Ford Probe is First Produced
The Ford Probe was a coupe produced by Ford, introduced in 1989 to replace the Ford EXP as the company's sport compact car.
The Probe was fully based on the Mazda G-platform using unique sheetmetal and interior. The instrument cluster and pop-up headlight mechanisms are borrowed from the FC RX-7. While it was sold worldwide as a sporty coupe, the Probe was intended to fill the market niche formerly occupied by the Capri in Europe, and although it was intended as the replacement to the Ford EXP, it was also considered a possible replacement for the Ford Mustang in the North American market as a direct competitor with the Acura Integra and the Toyota Celica. During that time, Ford's marketing team had deemed that a front-wheel drive platform (borrowed Mazda GD and GE platforms) would have lower costs for production, and also because the platform had been gaining popularity with the consumers. Mustang fans objected to the front-wheel drive configuration, Japanese engineering, and lack of a V8, so Ford began work on a new design for the Mustang instead.
Starting in the late 1970s, Ford and Ghia started exploring a series of futuristic designs under the "probe" series of concept vehicles. The Probe I, first shown in 1979, was a wedge-shaped design that incorporated a number of drag-reducing features like covered rear wheels and pop-up headlights. This was followed the next year by a much more conventional looking Probe II, whose hatchback styling was also reminiscent of the pony cars. The 1981 Probe III was an advanced demonstrator with covered wheels, but its bodywork evolved into the more conventional Ford Sierra (or Merkur XR4Ti) and styling notes that were used on the Ford Taurus. The 1982 Probe IV was a more radical concept car with a low Cd (drag coefficient), and evolved into the equally radical 1984 Probe V.
After the 1979 energy crisis, the economic slump initiated by high fuel prices prompted Ford to give the Ford Mustang a major redesign. The new design would be based on a totally new platform introduced to Ford by Japanese car manufacturer and Ford partner Mazda. But when the new generation of the Ford Mustang neared its release date, oil prices dropped to an all time low and Ford Mustang buyers expressed their displeasure in the style of the proposed replacement. The car was eventually released, not as a Ford Mustang but as the Ford Probe.
The Ford Probe is a product of the joint Ford and Mazda venture called the AutoAlliance International. Its unique body panels and interior were designed and manufactured in the AutoAlliance assembly plant located in Flat Rock, Michigan, the same facility that manufactured the Mazda MX-6 coupe and Mazda 626 sedan for the North American market.
The Ford Probe was introduced to the U.S. market in 1988 and was completely different from the Mazda MX-6, which was a 2-door sedan with traditional fixed headlights. The Ford Probe shares most of its mechanical parts with the Mazda MX-6 and 626. Both the Ford Probe and the Mazda MX-6 were based on the Mazda GD platform from 1988 to 1992, and on the GE platform from 1993 to 1997.
Initially planned to replace Mustang, Ford executives also expected the Probe to achieve success in the market. However, the car fell short of Ford’s expectations. The Probe's styling, while modern, was not universally accepted. It was also not affordable, making many buyers choose another, and more-prestigious brand, for the price of a Ford Probe. Total sales amounted to 837,273 units in its eight-year production run. In 1997, sales dropped to only 32,505 units, and the Probe was finally discontinued.
The Ford Probe was a coupé based on the Mazda GD platform, and powered by a 2.2 L SOHC 4 cylinder Mazda F2 engine. The first generation Probe appeared in 1988 and lasted until 1992 in the United States. In some markets the model years were from 1987 to 1991. It was based on a series of concept cars of the early 1980s, that were seen in films like Judge Dredd, Back to the Future Part II, and Total Recall.
The first generation was available in several trim levels that differ depending on the market the vehicle was sold in. In the United States, the Probe was available in GL, LX, and GT trim levels:
The GL was the base model with the 110 hp (82 kW)/130 lb·ft (176 N·m) F2 2.2 L engine and few options. Most Probes sold in the U.S. were equipped with air conditioning.
The LX added; power windows, power locks, and power mirrors, and different other interior options, as well as an optional moonroof. Starting in 1990, the LX was available with the 3.0 L "Vulcan" V6 engine, that was also used in the Ford Taurus, Ford Ranger, Ford Tempo, and Ford Aerostar.
The GT included all the equipment of the LX, but featured the F2T 2.2 L turbocharged, intercooled engine that produced 145 hp (108 kW) and 190 lb·ft (258 N·m) of torque. It came with an IHI RHB5-VJ11 turbocharger and an intercooler to the intake tract, as well as a knock sensor and electronic boost controller to the engine-control system. The boost pressure was 7.3 psi (0.50 bar) in the vicinity of 2,500 rpm. The GT version also came with 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, a 3-way adjustable suspension utilizing variable damping shocks, and a speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering (VAP). The Probe GT's suspension system was based on a Mazda design, but its tuning was different and included nitrogen-gas pressurized front and rear struts, with stabilizer bars.
The 1991 Probe was given a 4-star crash rating in collision tests conducted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Redesigned for 1993, Ford's front-drive Probe again emanated from the same Michigan factory as the Mazda MX-6 and shared that car's chassis components. But each coupe is uniquely styled. Probe is a sleek 2-door hatchback, whereas Mazda's MX-6 is a 2-door notchback coupe.The Probe's wheelbase grew by four inches, overall length by two, but interior dimensions changed little. A driver-side airbag was standard. Base Probes carry a twin-cam 4-cylinder engine; GTs, a 2.5-liter V6. All-disc brakes bring the GT to a halt, while base Probes employ rear drums. Antilocking was optional on both models.
Ford Motor Co.’s Ford Probe was first introduced in 1989 as a sports compact car. It is effusively based on the G-platform of Mazda using innovative interior and sheet metal. This coupe’s instrument cluster as well as its pop-up headlight mechanisms was taken from the FC RX-7. First generation Ford Probe automobiles that have appeared in 1989 lasted in the United States until 1992.
In the United States, Ford Probe is available in LX, GT and GL trim levels. It became “Motor Trend” magazine’s 1993 Car of the Year and was included in “Car and Driver” magazine’s “10 Best” list of top cars for the years 1989, 1994 and 1993. Among the characteristics and features of Ford Probe include its power sliding roof, rear washer/wiper, heated electric remote-control mirrors, tilt steering column, console with armrest, storage bin and cup holder, color-keyed floor mats, power windows/door locks and power door map pockets.