The cars we loved.
The Probe/MX-6 was the result of Ford’s continuing partnership with Mazda called AutoAlliance International. They had been working together on small trucks sense the 70’s. This time a sporty car was being developed, mostly by Mazda engineering with a version for each company. The original plan was to replace both the EXP and the Mustang with a modern more fuel efficient and sporty GT car. After news of the Mustang’s replacement leaked out, the general outcry from the public and press persuaded Ford to make the front wheel drive Probe an alternative to the Mustang and to compete directly with Japanese sporty GT cars (including Mazda’s version the MX-6).
despite having come from the same Mazda GD platform, the Probe and MX-6 looked drastically different. The soft lines of the MX-6 were more luxurious, while the angular almost brutish look of the Probe followed a long design heritage that was developed from various Probe concept cars and the Ford of Europe Sierra.
The Probe could not have been more different from the Mustang, with it’s live axel, rear wheel drive and V8 power. For one, the car’s ergonomics combined the best attributes of Japanese and American design. The Probe was initially available only as a SOHC 2.2 L 4 cylinder with 110 hp or a turbo with 145. Two transmissions were offered, a standard 5 speed manual and 4 speed automatic. Later versions of the first generation car were available with a 3.0 L Ford built V6 used in the Taurus that addressed the issues of lag from the turbo.
The Probes independent suspension was tuned more towards performance vs. that in the MX-6, which offered a similar level of performance, but with a softer ride. Both cars could do 0- 60 in about 7 seconds and the Probe GT could reach a top speed of 134 mph. The popularity of Probe (and to a lesser extent the MX-6) insured that the car would evolve into it’s next generation starting in 1993. The Probe’s design became a less wedge like design and dropped the turbo in favor of a V6. The MX-6 became an even more elegant design that stressed luxury with understated performance.