First things first. This isn’t the second installment in my ‘Whatever happened to‘ series of mildly interesting articles. Nope, they appear on Tuesdays, so you’re 24 hours early.
Instead, this post seeks to celebrate and laud the Ford Probe. It is 16 years since the Probe protruded onto the market, bringing with it the hopes that Ford could finally deliver a car to replace the Capri. To be honest, carrying the hopes of a nation looking to follow in the footsteps of the car we’d always promised ourselves was bound to weigh heavy on the coupe.
But when the Probe first appeared on our TV screens, the signs were good. Forget the fact that Volkswagen already had the excellent Corrado VR6 in circulation and Vauxhall’s Calibra was a common sight in the UK, the Probe seemed to have potential.
Sixteen years on, the car driven by a well-spoken Jeremy Clarkson in this video looks quite appealing. A 24v in a dark colour was always the only Probe to be seen in. Just look at the 3-spokes on the 16v for further evidence that the Saab 900 Turbo is indeed the only car to pull off 3-spokes. If nothing else, this video showcases one of Clarkson’s earliest brushes with the Daily Mail with his infamous quote about knicker elastic.
But from there onwards, the Probe was on a downward spiral. Criticised for having poor dynamics and some quality control issues, sales of the Probe never took off. Maybe the UK was still mourning the passing of the Capri just seven years earlier.
Values of the Probe have since deteriorated and today, you’ll be hard pressed to spend more than £1k on a late 24v in even the best condition. Is the car doomed to extinction? Well, there’s an owners club that hopes to keep the Probe throbbing and maybe, just maybe, in some bizarre twist of fate, the new DVLA TV ad will give it some appeal to a whole new generation of buyers. Retro cool is apparently…er…cool, so the iTunes generation might embrace some kind of iProbe?
I’ll leave you with the latest DVLA offering. I may be alone here, but I was quietly pleased when the 30 second ad stopped short of crushing the helpless Probe. Shame on the DVLA for killing it during the 9 second ident.