If not for a huge scream from loyal enthusiasts, we drive the front of the vehicle, when Ford Probe could be the fourth generation Mustang
When Ford put Mustang on the market In 1965, it took the car industry by storm. Until then, the idea of a sports car for ordinary people seemed like nothing but a pipe dream for most Americans. Not surprisingly, it did not take long for petrolheads to fall in love with Mustang, an affair that does not show any signs in the end soon.
Like any good love story, the Mustang story is not without its heartache. The oil crisis from the early 1970s served to choke V8 horsepower from American cars, including Mustang. The resulting second generation Mustang II was a shell of its predecessor, and is often considered to be one of the worst cars that Ford ever made. Things would be better with the introduction of the third generation Fox Mustang, but sales continued to decline.
By the mid-1980s, the rear-wheeled pony started to look like a bit of an antique compared to the wealth of cheap front-wheel drive coupons coming from Japan. These cars, especially Acura Integra and Toyota Celica, were easier and more effective than the Fox-Body Mustang, but were still fun to drive in themselves.
The practical benefits of front-wheel drive were impossible for Ford leaders to ignore as it was time to update the Ford Mustang for its fourth generation. In 1987, it was planned to form the fourth generation Mustang as a front-wheel drive. Through Ford's growing business relationship with Mazda, "New Mustang" would have been based on the same platform used by the Humdrum Mazda 626. But Ford estimated that this plan would work since Mazda had already used this platform to create MX-6, which turned out to be to be a decent two-door sports car, albeit not particularly exciting. The relatively lightweight coup would be creepy and efficient, driven by either a four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine.
There was only one problem with this plan. Loyal Mustang fans would not have any of it.
When the word turned on the street that the future Mustang was going to get a transverse FWD drive, scream was immediate. Ford headquarters were flooded with hundreds of thousands of letters from angry Mustang devotees. The message was clear: To give the Mustang a front-wheel drive, the platform would be to destroy it.
Despite lowering a large amount of money into a front-wheel drive, Ford decided to take over Mustang's requirements. Instead of killing Fox Mustang in 1989, which the company had planned to do, Ford held it in production despite the mediocre sales volumes. But there was no way that Ford could make an investment in the Mazda-based car fleet wasted. Then they decided to build the car anyway and market it next to the Mustang. It was thought that this car, now called Probe, would prove a point and advantage only Mustang.
This could not have been further from the truth. When the two cars were sold together, Mustang was easily sold out on the probe, despite architecture that was over ten years old. Glad that the people had paid for Ford and it turned out that American muscle was not out of fashion.
The same could not be said about Ford Probe. Although there was a basis for international sales, the American cousin of the Mazda MX-6 would never reach the fan the base of the car it would replace. Maybe it was because it did not have a V8 engine. Maybe it was because it was an American coupe with front wheel drive. Perhaps it was because it was named for something that was usually associated with prokologists.
In fairness, the probe was not a terrible car. But it was not a big one either. After all, it was really just a dull family car with two doors and pop-up headlights. No amount of early 90's voice could save it.
In the case of Mustang, it was time to finally retreat to the third-generation "Fox-body" design. Incredibly, Ford once again considered a front-wheel-drive platform, this time based on Escort. But that perception was quickly rejected as Ford could not find a way to take care of a front-wheel drive transaction to its Modular V8 engine. Instead, Ford decided to modify the old Fox platform with modern lines that reflected Mustang's true legacy. The code name "SN-95", fourth generation Mustang hit the streets in 1994. Since then, Ford has not looked back. Over ten million Mustangs have been built and they have all been faithful to their rear-wheel drive, rubber-firing roots.