1 Jul 1994
The front-wheel drive Ford Probe debuted in the USA in 1988.
It was based on the third-generation (1987-1991) Mazda 626 Coupe (MX-6 in Australia), and was built alongside it at Mazda’s Flat Rock, Michigan plant.
Australians had to wait until the Probe Mk2 of 1994. Again spawned off the MX-6 (the fourth-generation 1991-1997 edition), the Ford differed from its Mazda stablemate by being a three-door hatchback rather than a two-door coupe.
And speaking of design, it is actually historic for being the first production car in the world with styling overseen by a woman (Mimi Vandermolen). How she overlooked the name then remains a mystery.
Only the single four-seater model made it locally, powered by a 121kW/213Nm 2.5-litre quad-cam 24-valve V6 engine mated to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual gearbox.
The Probe 24V’s long list of standard features included dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, an alarm, cruise control, power steering and power windows.
However, sales were slow as the sports car segment – then dominated by the Toyota Celica, Honda Prelude, MX-6 and Holden Calibra – began to slide against the tide of compact 4WDs.