Cue the Nostalgia… we’re throwin’ it back with the Ford Probe
Remember Me? I’m kinda unforgettable.
Trouble in Paradise
There was a period in the 1980s when Ford Motor Company considered the Mustang to be more of an anachronism than a path forward.
You read that right.
Now some of you may be too young to have any idea what we’re talking about, while others wish to never remember such a season. The year was 1987, and it was a dreadful one for Mustang fans. Autoweek magazine dropped an A-bomb right on the cover of their spring issue. In an exclusive report, Christopher Sawyer revealed Ford’s plans to build the 1989 Mustang on a Mazda front-wheel-drive platform.
“Ford is on the verge of taking up with a Japanese-American filly as it prepares –eventually — to kill off its all-American pony car,” he wrote.
I mean, back us up on this, it still stings to read.
The cover of the issue hid nothing as the flat, wedge-shaped fastback demanded double-takes from its spectators with pop-up headlights and one sole, devious slit grille across the front.
Why even think of such a drastic change? Well, in addition to dealing with the profit plummet with the current Mustang, “Ford had been fearful of the chilling effect the energy crisis had had on the sales of inefficient V8 engines, which, when combined with power-choking pollution controls of the time, were beginning to feel like relics of a bygone era,” according to Driving Line.
With half the muscle and twice the windshield, Ford performance fans didn’t take a liking to the “new Mustang.” Though social media had yet to make its debut, Mustang lovers everywhere regarded this as one of Ford’s worst play calls—protesting the new “Maz-stang” with thousands of calls and letters to Ford’s headquarters.
“Lower the flag to half-staff boys, we’ve lost a great patriot,” reader Tom Bond of Clarion, Pa., wrote to AutoWeek. “Tell Dearborn I cancelled my Mustang GT and ordered an IROC-Z.”
There’s no doubt about it, Ford had upset a large sum of its super fans. While the bitterness and rage eventually led to Ford’s revival of the prestigious pony, there was a short period in time that the Ford Probe took center stage in the blue-oval chorus.
Making the Best of a Bad Situation
Now, despite the American outburst, the Ford Probe was a good car in both generations it lived. And no one could deny that when it appeared in Marty McFly’s 2015 future visit in Back to The Future II. In fact, it held the bronze in Automobile Magazine’s coast-to-coast best cars in the world. It was affordable, sporty, and the only car that could wink at you with its pop-up head lights.
But let us make one thing very clear: as great and unique as the Probe was, it was NOT the next Mustang. Not even a blood-relative according to enthusiasts. It was simply a distraction, or rebound, in hopes that one day, America’s one true love would return on a white horse (or any color horse, really).
If the return of the Probe didn’t require the purging of the pony, would you consider buying a 2020 model? Comment below.