Probe is a significant name in the history of Rare Rides, as the series started off in early 2017 with the Ghia-designed Probe I. That design study was the kickoff of a series of Probe concepts from Ford; a series which ultimately resulted in an aerodynamic liftback that entered production in the late Eighties.
Let’s see a clean, original example of the all-but-vanished first-gen Probe.
Today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by our previous Question of the Day on hatchback crapwagons.
In the North American vehicle timeline, the fading days of the Personal Luxury Coupe (PLC) saw the rise of a different kind of two-door for the masses. Gone was the upright formal vinyl roof, opera lamps, and trunk. En vogue was a sporty fastback profile and a strut-supported liftgate. Attainable and economic sporty driving is the name of the game, and our front-drive trio was right in the heat of things in 1994.
Today’s post serves as a couple of milestones at TTAC (for me, anyway); 200 articles written, and a year of Rare Rides. Since I did not plan this in any way or think about it in advance, I thought we might make this post a bit special. Bringing us back to the very first Rare Rides entry of one year ago, we have another concept car Ghia designed for Ford which never saw the production green light.
Presenting the 1983 Lincoln Quicksilver.
I’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.
In the early 1980s, as the economy continued to slump and gas prices soared, American car makers were desperate for a way forward. The good old days were gone forever. Under pressure from the Japanese, whose small cars had gone from rolling jokes to serious, high quality competition in little more than a decade, the big three knew they needed to make a radical departure from their traditional approach before it was too late. Although some of the more stodgy cars would soldier on and continue to sell to members of the Greatest Generation well past their expiration dates, for the rest of us the future was a smaller, lighter and more efficient. The winds of change were blowing and even the Ford Mustang felt the chill.
Here’s the new 1989 Ford Mustang! Well, that was the original plan for this cousin of the Mazda 626, but Mustang fans would sooner have accepted Leonid Breznhev’s face on the $20 bill than tolerate the sacred pony’s nameplate on a front-wheel-drive, Mazda-based car. So, the Mustang continued to be based on the increasingly elderly Fox platform until 1993… or 2004, if you consider the fourth-gen Mustang to be a Fox (which it was). Meanwhile, this car was sold as the Probe, and hardly anybody bought it. Here’s a first-year example I shot yesterday at a Denver self-serve junkyard.
Yes, somehow a Ford Probe— one of the least reliable cars in 24 Hours of LeMons history— has taken the overall win at a 24 Hours of LeMons race. Not only that, the BoomPowSurprise Probe won by a commanding 32-lap margin, meaning the car could have nuked its engine with nearly an hour to go and still won.
From the blooming tree in the photo, it’s obvious that I didn’t just shoot this Tempo recently. But then it wasn’t just this past spring either; it was a year and a half ago. Why have I been temporizing? Few cars leave me feeling more conflicted than the Tempo: is it a Deadly Sin or a Greatest Hit? But I find myself in a temporary state of equanimity today, so let’s see if we can’t put the Tempo into proper perspective. Tempus fugit; it’s now or never.
Count on Rodney to ruin a fine romance. “I just thought you should know,” he said as I opened up the lockbox to find the keys for our only four-cylinder, five-speed Probe, “that I screwed your up.”
“You screwed me up?” It wouldn’t be the first time; he’d recently driven a new Taurus headfirst into our “JBL: The Sound Of Ford” display while trying to manuever it out of the showroom, approximately four hours before I was scheduled to deliver it to its new owner.
“No, I screwed your up. The girl sitting at your desk. With the hairy forearms.” Come to think of it, her forearms did have a fair amount of remarkably dark hair on them. “She still thinks my name is Cleveland Washington or something like that. We hit it off right in the club bathroom, like I am known to do.” And yes, indeed, Rodney was rather infamous for anonymous tile-surrounded sex. There were five waitresses who worked the late shift at our local Waffle House. Rodney had violated two of them on the women’s sink over the past year and was working a third with all the patience of a champion bass fisherman. “You know what it means when a girl has hairy forearms.”
“I really don’t.” So he told me. Well, I should have realized that.
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- ChristianWimmer The 240D was frigging FAST……compared to the base 200D and 220D models which we had in Europe. The 200D had 55-horsepower and the 220D had 60-horsepower. Later the 200D got a power boost to 60-horsepower which resulted in Mercedes axing the 220D. It was a 60-horsepower 200D which I once got to drive. The car belonged to a friend and had the manual transmission. 0-100 km/h according to Mercedes was 33 seconds. Ok, it was surprisingly agile - from 0 to 80 km/h (could keep up with modern traffic), BUT 80 to 100 km/h took forever! At 80 km/h and in the proper gear you could be flooring the pedal and the needle barely moved upwards. So I guess for a city vehicle or roads limited to 80 km/h it’ll do fine - and we have many such roads in Germany.
- Tassos staying within the same family, I'd much prefer the 300. However, a 2006 recently sold also quite unjustifiably pricey, Not when you can get an Awesome Mercedes S550, of a far more recent vintage (2013) for almost the same price!!!!https://carsandbids.com/auctions/9Q1d4Vk9/2006-chrysler-300c-srt8
- Tassos https://carsandbids.com/auctions/r4e4R4mA/2013-mercedes-benz-s550-4maticWhy don't you try this? It's four times the car the unreliable little red wagon is, it's 1000 times more luxurious, it's far more powerful than you'll ever need, it's a FOREVER car, susprisingly economical to run, AND fit for a KING, not a JANITOR. Oh, and you save over $5000, which can buy you a really Ruling Class Bottle of wine... or several cases thereof.
- Tassos Holding cellphones in one hand while driving and being distracted by them is the idiot's recipe for disaster.And there are millions and millions of such morons. As Mark Twain said, the average American is not very smart, and half of all Americans are even dumber than that. I believe this is true of most other nations as well.
- Tassos I am not paying $25,000, even in worthless biden dollars, for a 7-year old, unreliable, non-luxury used small wagon. Are you kidding me?