By on February 4, 2015

01 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve noticed that you don’t see many Grateful Dead stickers on stereotypical hippie-type vehicles in junkyards. No, you see such stickers all over stuff like big ol’ GMC pickups (though I did find this thoroughly Steal Your Face-ized Vanagon a couple years back). Last week, while looking for a suitable speedometer for the Kustom Korona, I spotted this Deadheaded-up Ford Probe, complete with this intensely Coloradic dab-themed SYF image that you wouldn’t want to take across the state line into Nebraska or Kansas.
23 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Probe was going to be the new Mustang, but that would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Mustang fanatics burning Dearborn to the ground and then doing burnouts on the ashes in their properly rear-wheel-drive ponies.
05 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinInterestingly, I’ve found that a well-driven Probe will be quicker around a road course than just about any other crapcan racer. If Probes didn’t have such problems with exploding powertrains in LeMons races, they’d have won more than just the couple victories they’ve notched over the years. In any case, if you see a Probe and a similar-vintage Mustang going wheel-to-wheel in such a race, bet on the Probe (Fox Mustangs are even less reliable in low-buck endurance racing).
06 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe driver of this car probably didn’t care much about the Probe’s nearly-Mustang backstory, though.
16 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Grateful Dead broke up in 1995, when Jerry Garcia died, and so it’s possible that this Probe brought its owner to some of the band’s final shows. Some of the stickers appear to be of 1990s or earlier vintage, though it’s hard to tell with such things.
27 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s even a 5-speed. Too bad this car couldn’t have ended up as a racer.

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42 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1993 Ford Probe...”

  • avatar
    Curt in WPG

    My Dad had a 1990 Probe GT with the Mazda turbo in it. Car was blast to drive with horrific torque steer – dump the clutch from @ 4500 and you went sideways about 5 feet before going forward but it sure did scoot for the time. He got t-boned by Cougar that ran a red that drove the passenger door almost into the centre consol. I always thought it would have been fun to put the powertrain (it was only 2 years old) into an Escort or the like.

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a 1992 non-turbo. Even that was a lot of fun. While not as cool as the 1993, it was better built.

      You’re right about the torque steer. Even my non-turbo wanted to go sideways.

  • avatar

    “The Grateful Dead broke up in 1995, when Jerry Garcia died, and so it’s possible that this Probe brought its owner to some of the band’s final shows. Some of the stickers appear to be of 1990s or earlier vintage, though it’s hard to tell with such things.”

    I had the “happy campers” sticker in the rear window of my ’92 Civic CX (70 whole horsepower and genuine vinyl interior!). IIRC, I put it there circa ’93 or ’94, when I was attending some of the Dead’s last shows. So it’s definitely possible this Probe owner did the same.

    • 0 avatar

      I miss the Dead…

      • 0 avatar

        Oddly, I don’t miss the Dead. Somewhere around age 25 my musical tastes shifted and, while I don’t DISLIKE the Dead, I stopped enjoying their music for more than short little trips down memory lane. Anything more than two songs in a sitting feels tiresome to me. Go figure.

        Now the experience of a Dead show? Yeah, I suppose I miss that a little. But I suspect that may be rose colored glasses more than anything else.

        • 0 avatar

          “Anything more than two songs in a sitting feels tiresome to me. Go figure.”

          Not hard to figure out at all…weed tends to have a time-warping effect. Everything feels like it’s taking forever, but who cares?

      • 0 avatar

        I have my fingers crossed for my 2 ticket submissions for the farewell show in Chicago this summer.

  • avatar

    The Probe was such a good car. Pity about the name.

    Ford did this periodically in the late-80s through to the middle of the last decade: release a really well-done car that had one fatal flaw. The ’99 Focus just knocked the crap out of the compact segment, but set a recall record in it’s first year. Or the Freestyle/Five Hundred: great car, amazing packaging, about five years too early, with an engine five years too old.

    The Probe was great, but it looked like a secretary’s car, had the worst name possible, Mustang buyers hated it and Civic/Prelude/Celica/etc buyers wouldn’t touch a Ford with a ten-foot pole because of, well, the Fox-body Mustang.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure if you got them in the US, but add the Ford Ka to that list. Compact, good interior room, decent level of features, quirky styling (I hate it, but target audience seem to have loved it) and reasonably economical.

      Pity the engine was derived from the Kent 1300 released in 1962 or thereabouts, “modernized” with a cheap, crude EFI setup with sensors, injectors and all prone to malfunction. Good ‘ol Ford cost cutting!

      P.S. The Kent engine was very good for it’s time, and probably more reliable in original configuration than it was in the Probe!

  • avatar

    Oh, please no more Ford “Probelm” PTSD.

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a ’93 Probe GT between 2001 and 2007. Found out when I traded it in that it was a flood title that the crooked dealership I bought it from flipped until it came up clean. I sarcastically named it “the money pit” because of the high amount of cash I had to pay the local mechanic over that time period in repair costs. When it ran good early in my ownership it was a cool car. Black, had a sunroof, the rev-happy V6, looked good. But the expensive Mazda parts, my God….
      It was worn out when I traded it in. Engine was leaking/burning oil, clutch was slipping, starting to rust out in the rear wheel flanges. I don’t miss it much

  • avatar

    Yeah, I’ll take a hit on this. Be back in a bit.

  • avatar

    Had a 93 Probe GT as my first new car. Loved it and the sounds the little V6 engine made. Used to surprise a lot of Mustangs. I think the stang was faster but much harder to launch so I used to beat them pretty regularly. Feeling old that one of my cars is in this series.

  • avatar

    I race a Probe GT in Lemons, and knowing that the Probe is a fast Lemons car, it’s humbling because it just reveals how sucky of a driver I and my teammates are. It has been pretty reliable through five races — only problem was the 20 year old exhaust let go at a race. Lucky I guess!

    Oh….. Have been passed by only one Fox Mustang, and it’s themed as a pink pig.

  • avatar

    Way back in the late 90s, I was heading off with a bunch of friends to go camping. We were packed inside of a crappy Chevy Blazer with loads of gear. On the highway a Ford Probe GT pulled up. The passenger laughed at us and then the driver of the Probe hit the gas, pulling away.

    A few feet later, the exhaust of the Ford let out a huge plume of black smoke. The Probe slowed… and we ended up passing it. Even at highway speeds the Ford was making noises like marbles being shook in a can. They ended up pulling over on the shoulder.

  • avatar

    OK; that was weird. I read this during my morning reading; and started working. My daughter then asked me if I could pick up something for her.

    When I get to her place of work; there was a brand new 2015 Mustang sitting there, the first one I have seen in person. Very cool, but no big deal.

    But when I came out; parked next to my Taurus was a Probe GT in excellent condition. Still sitting in it was a driver who could pass for Jerry Garcia.

    You have me spooked; TTAC…..

  • avatar

    I still like these cars, I admired them when I was in high school. They can be had darn cheap off Craigslist. And that’s a lot of blank buttons under the HVAC controls, yuck.

  • avatar

    My mom had the mechanically similar ’93 Mazda 626 V6 with a manual, and a buddy had the V6 Probe with a manual. Those were fast, well-handling cars in their day. (The Probe was somewhat better handling than the 626, but it didn’t have the trick oscillating center vents that the 626 came equipped with….)

  • avatar

    I had a ’96 Probe GT, teal of course, and the little Mazda V6 was a lot of fun. It didn’t have much power but it revved up to the 7k redline with ease. It also handled pretty well for a front driver and had plenty of room in the hatch area. Also, my Great Dane could ride in the back seat with his head out of the sunroof. It did have the typical clear coat issues that cars of the period were prone to, though.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Friend of mine had a silver V6 Probe of this body style. I remember it having a gaudy red-and-black interior … and squeaks and rattles beyond belief.

  • avatar

    I feel like you used to see these around, often. Then all the sudden – all gone (especially so for the first gen)! I remember craving a purple one as a child, they always looked so cool.

    Same thing with all the gen1 Intrepids. I can’t t2.7nk why that happened.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Blow up the pic of the shifter, and you’ll notice a hypodermic needle to the right of its base.

    CrabSpirits, hope that helps your story… ;-)

  • avatar

    That car looks a LOT like a car I sold in Sonora CA many years ago. It had the same odd combination of the twister wheels and the big-nose front bumper. If the passenger side door had a bunch of fasteners to hold both halves of the door card together, I’d say that’s my old ride. Mine was a 94, but who knows. Same color, same 5-speed, same interior. Mine, however, did not have a repainted red hood.
    That car was a disaster–bought it from a divorced lady after her husband wrecked it, fixed it and poured some unknown substance (not gas) in the tank which caused the cylinders to gum up with junk and ruined the lifters. Figured it out when I took it all apart. That and the overspray on the front end led me to understand how much of a sucker I was. Also many parts had junkyard yellow on them.

    The only thing better than being young and dumb is being old and dumb!

  • avatar

    Jim was tripping.

    “Okay, give me three more that long.”, Jim ordered. Bill tore off more duct tape. His thumb was getting sore, and he rubbed it with his sticky forefinger. Bill wasn’t sure exactly why they were taping up the electrical center of the Probe, but he didn’t inquire into it. He had other things on his mind. Being under the hood of the Ford wasn’t exactly how he intended to spend his Saturday, especially when said car was done up like an ice cream truck, with stickers advertising delights relevant to his interests.

    “There. Now it won’t catch fire again.”, Jim laughed. Bill humored his buddy with a short disinterested chortle, then tried to get the dead-duo back on the right track. “So Sara has the good stuff, huh?” Jim reassured him. “Yeah, man. She’s got some oil, a little budder, I think…she even has some gold tops too.” Bill’s ears perked up, and he wondered aloud, “I’ve never done booms before.” “Really?!”, Jim yelled, “What about 4th of July?” Jim asked as he slammed the hood of the Probe. The two got into the car, and Bill told his pal “You ate em all d*ck! I had like a pinch, that did nothing.” Jim started the buzzy four, and rattled the shifter back and forth in neutral. “Sounds like I owe you then.”

    As Bill rode along in the Probe, he thought about the name of this car. Calling it the Ford Drone would have been much more applicable, because that’s what it did. With an exhaust system in poor repair and blown struts that communicated road irregularities into suttle, but very noticeable dips in RPM, Bill did his best mitigate the auditory nuisance. He rolled his window up and down, before finally deciding overpowering it was a better course of action. He reached over to the Pioneer MP3 player and let Ol’ Jerry really explore the space.
    “Down where the sun don’t shine
    Lonely and I call your name
    No place left to go, ain’t that a shame?”

    “Man, he sounds so bad here.”, Bill yelled. Jim upshifted, and told him “Yeah man, I ripped this from the ’95 show in Chicago. Close to the end. It’s more real though, don’t you think?” Bill thought for awhile before coming to the conclusion “No. He’s full of sh*t.”
    “Skulls forever.”, Jim said, pulling up to the garage door.

    Sara hugged Jim with sickening glee, and said “Beth should be here soon.” “Beth? WTF?!”, thought Bill, “Oh god. They are trying to set me up.” Bill felt his ponytailed mane, which of course, was greasy and gnarled. His faded black t-shirt had a greasy smudge dead center where his plump belly had rubbed it off the Probe. “Where’s the damn pot?”, he wondered angrily.

    Bill spaced out on the couch to the tune of music he’d heard a thousand times through, Tom Waits, Bob Seger…, he could really use a dab right about now. Jim stuffed his face in the kitchen. Sara was a courteous host however, and showed off a Ziploc bag as if she was Vanna White. “Jim tells me you’ve never done shrooms.” Bill looked over his shoulder to see Jim framed by the doorway, grinning ear to ear. Bill leaned forward in the sofa. “Rock me.”

    “How much did you give him? Fu&k!”, Bill asked. Sara replied, handing him the pitcher of lukewarm, hastily mixed orange juice from concentrate, “Just three or four grams!” Jim lifted Bill out of the puddle of puke, “Here dude. Drink this. Everything is gonna be fiiNNNEEEE.” Bill warped in and out of Jim’s mouth as he spoke, sipping the orange juice like a toddler. Then, he went back to the floor in the fetal position. His puke was animated, and the Toxic Avenger danced as GWAR played in/of it. Bill stared at the rack holding Sara’s DVD collection. The most memorable scenes from each film sprang off the spine of each case as he recognized it. Ones that he didn’t recognize, he made up to his horror. Dan Aykroyd appeared as a hologram from the Ghostbusters case, holding his proton gun, muttering “Cross the streams…”, then the whole rack was suddenly covered in ectoplasm, and exploded in a pink flash.

    Bill took another hit off the nail, he was starting to calm down and began to assess his situation. The left side of his face was still missing after impacting the rim of the toilet. “You should go back on the couch and just watch the show.”, Sara said with a nurse-like demeanor. As Sara and Jim continued to smooch out on the patio, Bill enjoyed the flowers coming out of Jerry’s guitar, entering the room through the TV screen, and flowing around to his right. “This is what it’s all about.”, he said to himself.

    There was a knock at the door. Beth walked in happily. “This is Bill. He’s…kinda fu&ked up on boom-booms at the moment.” Beth introduced herself by saying “Awww.” and caressed Bill’s wounded jaw. Bill said nothing. He was focused too much on Beth’s face. Her homely nose and head slowly morphed into the spaceship from Flight Of The Navigator. “You guys already started without me?”, she said, before elongating her face into a spike and blasting out to the patio at the speed of sound. Sara and Jim were disrupted by the blast wave of her movement and then slowly gave chase.

    There it was again. Allman Brothers were playing, but then the sound of Bill’s heartbeat drowned it out. Only, it wasn’t a heartbeat at all. It was the riff from Dethklok’s Go Into The Water, playing repetitively. The Allman Brothers were gone. Bill looked for his friends. They waved for him to come out from the other side of the chasm where only the penitent man shall pass. “No thanks.”, he said, securing his bullwhip and adjusting his fedora. He needed to just get back in his car and go home for a hot shower. As he floated past the dining table, the keys flew up to his open hand.

    Bill stood next to the Probe in amazement. It wasn’t…quite…the Probe, it was…well…(youtube Uvtt94Oz4N4)

    Bill’s cellphone rang in his pants at the foot of his bed. He crawled down to retrieve it.
    “Bill…”, Jim trembled angrily, “…where is my fu%king car?”

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I was always a fan of the MX-6. It’s styling was modern and the interior was well packaged for a coupe.The 2.5 V6 had plenty of grunt. They reminded me of the Opel Calibra which sadly was never imported to the states like the ill-fated Catera or Saturn Astra.

  • avatar

    I had a first gen LX with the digital dash and all other kinds of options not available on the second gen car. Some of the options offered on the first gen cars included adjustable suspension, and speed sensitive steering, not common on even the most expensive cars back in 1989.

    The second gen car handled a bit better than the first gen, but the first gen was more solidly built and the first gen offered a turbo option. The first gen turbo cars were quickest, almost as fast at the 5.0 Mustang in the quarter.

    Sales for the first couple of years were solid, but quickly ran out of steam. The name was a turn off for a lot of people, and Ford let the car die on the vine, since gas prices collapsed and Muricans couldn’t get enough of those SUVs. Pity really since the basic platform had a lot of potential.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford was definitely more ambitious than GM or Chrysler was during the 80s. After all, they dared to make a car that attempted to rival BMW out of a personal luxury coupe! 4 wheel independent suspension and disk brakes on American car in 1989 (that wasn’t the Corvette) was a HUGE deal!

      • 0 avatar

        “Ford was definitely more ambitious than GM or Chrysler was during the 80s. After all, they dared to make a car that attempted to rival BMW out of a personal luxury coupe! 4 wheel independent suspension and disk brakes on American car in 1989 (that wasn’t the Corvette) was a HUGE deal!”

        Add to that their groundbreaking work in aerodynamics; and Ford was more ambitious indeed; GM and Chrysler did not catch up until the 1990s.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I still own mine. Ford was a bit more innovative in the 80’s and 90’s. SVT, SVO. Upgraded 5.0. Electronic suspensions. However it took them 25 years to offer 4 wheel independent suspension on the Mustang.

      • 0 avatar

        Ford really had no choice; by 1980, Ford had lost half of their sales from two years ago to the imports, and was in financial trouble. It was a case of innovate or die.

        Besides the Probe and the Mustang, Ford was even working on a mid-engine design along the lines of the Toyota MR2 and the Pontiac Fiero; though the Ford Maya never saw production:

        Ford’s aerodynamic research is still top-of-the-line; witness the aero changes that were also made to the 2015 Ford Mustang. Build the body of the F-150 out of aluminum and the Ecoboost engines also seem like leading edge responses to today’s need for more fuel efficient cars.

  • avatar

    I had a ’94 GT with the V6. Bought it for autocross (2nd-gen Probe GTs and MX-6s dominated G Stock; the 4-cylinder cars did well in H Stock, too).

    The ’94 added larger door impact beams, a passenger airbag, and lost the button to pop up the lights independent of the headlamp switch.

    I put a custom 2.5″ mandrel-bent cat-back exhaust on it with a Supertrapp (the hot ticket for Stock class autocross, though the Borla cat-back didn’t sacrifice as much bottom end). Somewhere along the way I picked up a base Probe/all MX-6 front sway bar to slightly counter the inside-tire wheelspin that the stiffer PGT had vs the softer MX-6 when coming off tight corners.

    I drove that car for 170,000 miles through many adventures, and it always got me home. In ’99, I got my Mustang Cobra and the Probe’s autocross days were done, but I still drove it every day. In late 2000, the years of hard-revving started to loosen up the motor just a bit much and power was noticeably down. Found a sub-30k-mile salvage yard motor, which we opened up, verified good condition, replaced all the gaskets, the timing belt, and the water pump when we reassembled, so it was essentially fresh.

    And then 6000 miles later, a lady in a Honda Civic decided stopping suddenly in the middle of Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Township was required prior to turning right into a parking lot. The Neon behind her stopped just short (but had no brake lights, a thing proven to the investigating officer, who had witnessed it from his radar position in one of the median cutouts), I dove right and ALMOST missed. Clipped the Neon’s RR corner with the LF corner of the Probe. If the impact hadn’t pulled the inner tie rod out of the steering rack, the insurance company might have fixed it. Instead, the cost of that rack pushed repairs up over the threshold. I pulled the stereo head unit I’d installed and the shift knob (which I still have, along with the keys and radio key fobs), and off it went. After presenting the receipts for all the recent work, the insurance payout was suitable. I thought about buying it back, fixing the damage, caging it, and running it in Club Racing Improved Touring, but the numbers didn’t work out for that.

    It got auctioned off, sent to Florida, and apparently fixed, because for several years I got notices from Ford stores in Florida welcoming me to their service departments.

    I still miss that car. Great on the highway, fun to drive, the seats were more comfortable than the Cobra’s, and like I said, it always got me home. Even in its final moment with me, it threw itself on the grenade and I was unharmed by the impact, despite its heavy offset. Its shift knob lives in the Cobra’s glovebox, passing on a little of its spirit to its successor.

  • avatar

    I had one just like the car pictured (same color, even) from 96 to the early 2000s. I got it as a college graduation gift. Sticker price 14k, and my parents paid $8500 for it if I remember right. It was one of a small number of options at the time if you wanted a cheap semi-American sports car.

    It was fun to drive and looked pretty cool. It’s one of the nicer looking designs ford has ever come up with. Even today when I see one, they don’t look too bad. You’d really feel the torque at the low end, then it would bottom out once you got into the higher revs.

    Once I got around 140k it was noisy, the brakes weren’t too good, and it needed a new air compressor that would’ve cost $800. I was sort poor st the time, so I drove it around without the AC until an idiot neighbor crashed into it and totaled it out when it was parked in front of my mom and dad’s house.

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