Future Classic: 1989-1997 Ford Probe

Future Classic: 1989-1997 Ford Probe

The Ford Probe of the late Eighties was a litany of pluses and minuses.

On the plus side, chalk up the looks: svelte, sporty, aggressive. Put a check mark next to the intent box: the Probe initially was seen as an ambitious replacement for the Mustang. Then there was the involvement of Mazda in the Probe’s genesis. It would be built as part of a joint venture known as AutoAlliance International near Detroit, and offered with a 2.0-liter Mazda four cylinder, a similar powerplant boosted by a turbocharger, and later a 2.5-liter V6 generating 164 horsepower. The platform, drivetrain and suspension were all reliably Mazda, based on the company’s popular 626 sedan.

Now to the other side of the ledger. There were these reactions, more or less, to the “replace the Mustang” approach when Ford fanboys learned of the changes coming:


“Are you kidding?”

“You must be kidding.”

“You must be nuts!”

Why is the Ford Probe a future classic?

In the mid-Eighties, Ford’s scheme to introduce a redesigned Mustang — a classic in its portfolio for decades even then — was a dicey proposition, even before the redesign came to life. Because of exorbitantly high gas prices around 1980 — when the Probe-to-Mustang concept was conceived — Ford predicted gas-eaters like Mustang would soon disappear. Plus, it was deemed by Ford’s bean counters that a Probe would be cheaper to produce.