I loved my Ford Probe. I have so many great memories in that car. I remember when I saw my first Ford Probe. It was May of 1988. The dealer where I had bought my 2-door Tempo called me up to say I had to come down and see this new car. I was a closet gearhead so why not. They were keeping it in the service area and there was a red base Ford Probe GL.I hated it.HATED IT.The funky interior, the way over the top no one has ever seen anything like this design, and no opportunity to drive it, a 2.2L 4-cylinder. Thanks guys, I'll pass.In August of 1988 while on a sales call my Ford Tempo got rear-ended by a fullsize Dodge that pushed the trunk to the rear seat. The car was pushed almost 100 feet forward, jumped the curb, shattered one aluminum rim, collapse both passenger side tires and came to a stop in a telephone pole. So for those keeping score the only undamaged panels on the car are the driver front fender and the driver door. The impact was so severe it broke the hardware to the sunroof. My girlfriend came out, we used the mini-spare from her Ford Escort and my mini-spare and limped the shattered remains of my Tempo home from Springfield to Worcester, with a cracked oil pan from going over the curb. For those wondering, yes the car was totalled.Ford had redesigned the Tempo in 1988 and I HATED the new design. I looked at other models and didn't find anything that was interesting and a salesman coaxed me into driving a Ford Probe. OK...I was hooked. Hooked like a drug. This was nothing like my Tempo or any other American four-banger I had driven, or some of 1981 Honda Civic I learned to drive in. This car had gobs of torque, handled and braked wonderfully, and the funky controls quickly made sense. I wanted one now, but not THIS one.I decided I wanted a 1989 Ford Probe LX with the 253-A option package. This basically offered up all of the GT goodies, power seat, cruise control, rear-wiper, washer, climate control, and some things I didn't want like the trip computer (despite being cool) and the digital dashboard (very cool but something I really didn't want).However by August of 1988 the Probe had become a hot commodity. A big seller and very hard to find. Dealers were largely commanding over sticker, the economy was booming, interest rates were high relative to now, and wait times were running 6 to 8 weeks for factory orders.Marlborough Ford (now gone) use to advertise on the radio like crazy. Their tagline? "We are the wizards of WOW! WOW!"This was the way overhyped advertising, we finance anyone, push, pull your trade in, kind of dealer, and I was avoiding calling them like the plague. But there became my last hope.So I got a sales drone on the phone, told him what I was looking for, and he told me they had five.My response, word for word, was an eight letter word for bovine excrement. He then started rattling off colors, option codes, and started reading the VIN and was like OK, OK, what's your name, I'll be there in an hour.Hoofed out to Marlborough to not see a single Ford Probe on the lot. I was FURIOUS at first. The Wizards of Wow sucked me out here to now beat me senseless on buying a Ford something else. Then I found them. Five fair maidens all in a row. Black. Red. Blue. White. Silver. Ford Probe LX's all. 253A option package all. The black one had a red interior, as did the white and red one. The blue one had a blue interior and the silver one had a gray interior. But the red one had a factory sunroof (I wanted a black one).So I took the red one for a test drive. It was everything I hoped it would be and four hours later I was driving home in my new Ford Probe.I've only owned one other vehicle in my life that got even a close reaction to owning my Probe. Doing my break in period old school, I was in 4th gear on the highway, changing down to third at times to change the RPM, and never breaking 50 MPH. It was a warm summer day, had the sunroof out (no power roof option in 1988) and I started to notice a traffic jam behind me. Almost every car was slowing down and oggling my Ford Probe like a horny teenager on prom night.For the first three or four months before the site of them became commmonplace I would have crowds gather around in a parking lot for Q&A time. I would come out of BJ's Wholesale Club in Westboro (I think it was in Westboro) and the driver and passenger side front windows would be smeared with multiple finger and hand prints. People looking in.I was young and dumb, and making good money, and living the Reagan greed years like a baby boomer, not the Generation X why should I care we're only going to get nuked soon peers. I "riced" out my Probe tastefully over a two year period of time. Changed the PCM (custom programmed), exhaust, intake, fuel system, 15" Fitapaldi rims with 205/60VR15 tires, ground effects kit and a subtle rear spoiler, tinted the windows 35% black and then got the genius idea to have the roof and a-pillars painted in gloss black to match the glass. It gave the car the illusion of having a single piece of dark glass greenhouse. Then there was the stereo. Twenty speakers of Alpine, JBL, Pioneer and MTX insanity. Four amps, 2-1/2 DIN chassis mounted IN DASH (oh it was so sweet). AM/FM Cassette CD, with 11 band EQ and subwoofer cross over. The best part of all is it was a clean setup. No insane thump here, this was all about crystal clear audio quality - and my cargo area remained quite functional (an absolute requirement).I ran the car in various shows. It was used for the opening for a regional show about automobiles. The two talking heads started with the car as a backdrop and then drove off in it for the show ending each week. It was a one day shoot and very cool. I entered it in a number of car shows and it consistently placed in the top three, typically in the "Special Interest" class as it wasn't a classic car.I also ran SCCA Solo II Autocross where it was a true beast. Before doing the various engine tweaks the H Stock Probe would eat the competition alive.This car was my friend, my amigo. It got me through a howling New England blizzard on Cape Cod. I was behind the wheel when I got pulled over for my fastest stop in my life, 115 MPH clocked on radar, stopped by a road block as the police package Crown Vic of the day could only keep up, and got off with a verbal warning. It hauled me to my bachelor party. It hauled me down to Texas when I moved there. It hauled me around on my sales calls. I had the wildest sexual experience in a car of my life in that car (sorry no details). I hauled my skis in, my DJ equipment in it, backpacking equipment, car camped in it. This was the car I was driving when a wayward porcupine got its revenge on me the next morning after I hit it coming around a blind turn with really no options to react - I awoke the next morning to find my right front tire flat, the broken HOLLOW quills (never knew they were hollow) jammed into the sidwall causing a fatal wound to the rubber. This was my buddy - and all the while the car was largely a reliable soldier.Alas after 186K miles old mechanical friends get tired out. I had already put in a new radiator, alternator (twice - no bad on Ford, all those amps from that stereo no wonder they kept croaking). Then at 186K miles the transmission failed catastrophically. I had put a clutch in at 140K miles (impressive considering the Autocross) and the shop insisted it was clutch that failed, then as they got into it, confirmed the tranny was dead.Pushing 200K miles I felt it was better to cut my losses so to speak. I pulled the amps and speakers but left the now four year old head unit and hooked it back up to just four speakers. Yanked those sweet 15" Fitapaldi rims and put some chrome plate steel AR rims on it - sold the Fitti's and made a little bank. Sold the car to a broker, and the DW and I decided at the time that our one car 1993 Subaru Legacy would do the job for us. We were saving for a house and a baby on the way - it all kind of fell into place.About four years later I found my old friend. At first I wasn't sure when I saw her in the parking lot. The paint on the lower airdam has long cracked and was peeling away from being slammed into one too many parking lot curbs and/or entrances. The rear was busted up with one tailight smashed out - it appears it had backed into something, and the passenger side was covered in parking lot rash. Two of the steel chrome plated rims were MIA, one replaced with a 15" plain steel rim minus the hubcap the other with a 14" rim with a same size O.D. tire. It was when I saw the now crazed black roof, that cleary had not been waxed or cleaned properly in the Texas sun that I realized - I was looking at my old car. I peered inside, probably the first time the driver side window had a smudge put on it in years. The center console was completely smashed out, a basic head unit hung pathetically in the gaping hole along with the AC controls. The windshield was cracked from side to side, and the ignition switch hung pathetically. The interior was stained and faded,the dash covered in dust.I know, it's only a car but this was a part of my youth. Like a former supermodel that had lived to fast and to hard her beauty was long gone, and could never be restored. Anyone who saw her would have laughed at the notion that just six years earlier that same car was a featured attraction at car shows, was used for a regional TV program and had done some promotional work for Jiffy Lube. THAT car? That car couldn't even be the old wreck in the Nu-Finish car wax ad dude.My old friend - who i suspect has long gone the way of the car crusher. The great memories live on though and to this day I look back fondly to my Ford Probe, a car that I still feel was the best overall engineered vehicle I ever owned from the slick 5-speed to the gutsy Mazda 2.2.L 12-valve 4, to the rich content offered for the price and relatively good performance for the money. It was the second, "Motor Trend Car of the Year," I've owned (although technically it's close cousin the Probe GT got the official honor). But somehow nothing I've owned has come close to the Ford Probe and I know I will never get those days back - those heady days of being in my early 20's, just out of school, finishing up my USAF reserve time and starting on my career. Where my life was laid out in front of me like an open road begging to be driven down.Sometimes - when I find a rare open stretch of blacktop and the kids aren't with me. On those even more rare spots where I'm 99.99% sure that the police rarely patrol -- there are moments -- where I wish I had my old Probe back - not the shattered please take me to the salvage yard and give me a Viking funeral Probe - the one that I remember, the one I owned, my old friend.
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