This is an installment in a series of posts looking back on show cars that we feel deserved a little more attention than they got. If you have a suggestion for a Forgotten Concept topic, please shoot us a line or leave a comment below.
Ford Probe III Concept
First Shown: 1981 Frankfurt Auto Show
Description: Experimental aerodynamic sedan
The Pitch: “A futuristic study in aerodynamics”
First seen at the 1981 Frankfurt Auto Show, the Ford Probe III Concept was both an experimental aerodynamic exercise, and a harbinger of Fords to come. The midsize sedan featured sleek, rounded styling, and a number of aero aids which contributed to the concept’s remarkably low coefficient of drag. Notably aero elements included a smooth belly pan, body-flush doors, rear fender skirts, and carefully tweaked outside mirrors.
The 4-door Probe III closely predicted the look of the new-for-1982 Ford Sierra sporty coupe. The Sierra, featuring the Probe III’s “twin deck” rear spoiler, would be marketed in the U.S. via Mercury dealers as the Merkur XR4Ti.
Reported as .22 and .24 by Ford, the Probe III’s coefficient of drag was considerably lower than the all-new 1984 Chevrolet Corvette’s .34 rating. Per Ford, the Probe III’s aerodynamic design alone would improve fuel economy by 27 percent compared to the average European car on the road at the time.
I love forgotten concept cars that, when looked at closely, evokes images of vehicles that did see production. In the case of the Probe III, we see not only the arguably handsome Euro-market Sierra, but also the game-changing 1986 Ford Taurus.
As evidenced by the magazine ad seen below, Ford was keen for Americans to embrace its aerodynamic triumphs along with the Europeans. Given how well the Taurus would go on to sell, seems that American consumers appreciated the effort.
Forgotten Concept: Mercury Marauder Convertible
Ford Probe III Concept Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)