What could have been the fourth generation of the muscle car Ford Mustang was attacked by critics even before its fruition. Criticisms to this model include the vehicle’s lack of the powerful V8 engine, its front-wheel drive configuration, and even a racist remark on it being Japan-made. To put an end to all these, an aerodynamic, sports coupe by the name of Ford Probe was introduced to the world in 1989, badged as rather the Ford EXP replacement. However, the tragic fate of Probe—even before it was created—never left it; Ford discontinued the production of this model eight years after.
1988-1992: Three trim levels
Inspired by the Mazda GD platform, a hatchback Ford Probe powered by a 2.2 L SOHC 4-cylinder Mazda F2 engine debuted in 1988 in the United States. It was made available in three trim levels: GL, LX, and GT. The GL was the base model with 120-hp F2 2.2 L engine, while the LX was equipped with several standard features, such as power windows and mirrors, and an optional moonroof. The GT package was the most powerful with a 145-hp 2.2 L turbocharged, intercooled engine, complete with a special Automatic Adjusting Suspension and a computer-controlled system for fine handling.
1993-1997: Two automakers
A massive revamp of the Ford Probe took place in 1993; Mazda perfected the engine, transmission, and chassis, while Ford designed the body and interior. The result: a more spacious, but lightweight Probe compared to its first generation model. A special edition (SE) Probe was also offered, an upgrade of the GT trim level, complete with power windows and mirrors. In 1994, the Probe was one of the pioneering cars equipped with standard air bags. A redesign of its interior and exterior, including bumpers and tail lights happened in 1995. However, some of the upgrades were dropped the next year, which include the lighting in the floor and exterior door locks. In 1997, the production of the Probe was discontinued, together with models as Thunderbird, Cougar, and Aerostar; Ford only sold about 30,000 units of Probe, the worst sales turnout in its history.
1999-2002: One result
The third generation and 1999 model of the Ford Probe was set to be released in 1998, when Ford decided to rather create a Mercury Cougar. As how the Probe was intended to be the next Mustang, the Cougar became the next Probe—and it wasn’t even regarded as its successor. The Ford Escort replaced the Probe as the Ford’s sport compact car. Afterwards, in 1998, the latest probe was released as the 1999 Mercury Cougar.