Ad Classic: Total Performance Take Two – Have You Remembered An Early ’90s Ford Lately?


I found this ad leafing through a December 16, 1991 Autoweek and decided that, as a counterpoint to Saturday’s ’73 Mustang, it made for a timely post.  The first panel, as you see, isn’t the most eye-catching, but with hindsight, it was a perfect way to inaugurate the touchy-feely early ’90s.  The cars it was promoting, luckily, were decidedly less corny; we often reflect on Ford as a purveyor of soft, isolated boats in the ’70s, but it’s fun to remember just how well they redeemed themselves as the ’80s wore on.

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By the early ’90s, their hard work culminated in a full host of very rewarding cars.  And unlike other American manufacturers, where Ford knew its efforts wouldn’t be sufficient, they were humble enough to get help from Japan to complete the line-up.  If this ad were printed one year later, the much-improved Probe GT V6 and the Cobra R would be gracing these pages, but with the renewed, Yamaha-powered SHO and surprisingly impressive Escort GT, getting the word out was worth doing quickly.

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If this ad were for 1993 models, the Mustang GT would’ve been less boast-worthy, having inexplicably lost twenty horsepower.  When this ad ran, though, the Mustang GT was still making a healthy 225 horsepower, nearly ending a very successful run for the original Fox chassis, seemingly getting better with each year in production.  Three years earlier, the Thunderbird had switched from the Fox chassis to the ill-fated, porky MN12, but in supercharged SC trim, it gets top billing in this ad, appearing twice.

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Because only about 4,000 buyers understood its appeal in 1992, with even fewer caring today, it’s worth taking a moment to remember.  No need to deny the car’s obvious flaws as long as we don’t deny its appeal and with 315 lb-ft of torque sent through a limited slip differential to independently suspended rear wheels, it wasn’t especially dull.  If I find one in the wild, I’ll snap pictures and write up a very positive full-on CC (same goes for the Probe).  While it was big, heavy and not as frisky as the quad-shocked Turbo Coupe of the mid ’80s, perhaps we can more charitably see it as a ’90s successor to the Galaxie 7-Liter.


Speaking of full-sized sport, Ford’s approach to forming a performance line-up was decidedly inverse of its crosstown rivals.  Until the sensational Neon came out, after all, none of the era’s domestic small car offerings were as sharp as the Escort GT, while the Probe GT was also more sophisticated than anything like the Dodge Avenger, let alone GM’s front-drive competition.  But Chevy gave us the Impala SS and today offers the Chevrolet SS, while Chrysler has given us a number of (very cool) Hemi-powered LX-chassis variants over the past eleven years; it’d be a stretch to consider the Marauder much in terms of competition, let alone a Crown Vic Touring Sedan.

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But ‘roided-up big cars weren’t what most enthusiastic drivers wanted, and even with the second-gen SHO, the Probe GT and the Escort GT gone after 1997, Ford kept lead-footed drivers happy throughout the ensuing years with the excellent–and even more obscure–SVT Contour and Focus, alongside ever beefier Pony Cars.  So while a lot of time is spent talking about Ford’s 1990s missteps, it’s all too easy to forget just how serious Ford was about proving itself as a maker of driver’s cars in the early part of the decade.  Today, we can point to today’s reinvigorated 2015 Mustang, along with the brilliant Focus ST and frisky Fiesta ST as a sign of the company’s current good intentions, but after featuring last week’s blue Pinto and big Mustang, I owed it to the blue oval fans among us to take this walk down memory lane.


Related reading:

CC Capsule: 1992 Mercury Tracer LTS – An Almost Forgotten Gem?

COAL: 1995 Ford Thunderbird LX – Learning To Fly

Car Show Classic: 1982 Ford Mustang GT – Welcome Back

CC Outtake: One Good SHO Deserves Another