Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ford. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Famous Ford Flops

Ford Edsel -Photo: Pixabay
American automakers sometimes take the brunt of the criticism for producing models that are ugly, useless, or even downright dangerous. Ford has had its share of beasts through the years in addition to several winners including the current Mustang for which demand cannot be met. For the fun of it let’s take a look at some of the Ford models that have been derided down through the years.

Model T – What?! How can the car that introduced mass production make the list? Well, the car was fine, but Mr. Henry Ford’s statement, “…you can have any color you want as long as it is black” has been attributed with the rise of General Motors [who gave its customers a choice in colors] which eventually dethroned Ford as the top automaker in the world. No, the Model T was fine, but Mr. Ford’s marketing strategy was not.

Edsel – In September 1957, Ford launched a new division – Edsel – and introduced to America one of the weirdest looking cars. Sporting a “horse-collar” shaped grille – some equated it with a toilet seat – the Edsel line was hyped by Ford and rejected by consumers wholeheartedly. Expecting to build 200,000 Edsels in its first year of production, only 63,000 were built. Other “radical” aspects of the Edsel included a “floating” speedometer that glowed upon reaching a particular speed and an awkward push button transmission with controls attached to the hub of the steering wheel. Even with a quick makeover completed in time for the next model year, the Edsel limped along only to be pulled one month after the third model year vehicles were released.

Pinto – Hey, even I owned one! With a 2.3L inline four-cylinder paired with a 4-speed manny tranny, the Pinto was Ford’s answer during the 1970s to the onslaught of Japanese cars flooding the market. The compact rear-wheel-drive coupe, three-door hatchback, or wagon sold fairly well until disaster hit: the revelation that the Pinto’s gas tank was capable of exploding during a rear impact scared buyers away. Mercifully pulled after the 1980 model year; replaced by the popular Escort.

Mustang II – Ford tarnished the Mustang name during the 1970s with this forgettable and ugly model. Resembling a bloated and stretched Pinto, the Mustang II was weak, poorly made, and a terrible competitor against its arch-rival, the Camaro. All was forgiven by the early 1980s with the return of a newly designed Mustang. Today’s Mustang, on the other hand, is a sold-out success story as it took its styling cues from a Mustang of another era: the fastback cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Before you point your finger at Ford, don’t forget to recall some truly forgettable models, foreign and domestic. The Toyota Van was panned for its ugly styling and for having an engine that had to be dropped from the engine bay in order to do a tune-up; the Chevy Vega – a Pinto wannabe; AMC’s Pacer – the Jetson’s car; the Suzuki Samurai and Isuzu Rodeo – flip over specialists; the Yugo – a thinly redone 1960s era Fiat; and countless other cars not worth the mention. You hope that automakers learn from their mistakes, but don’t count on it. Maybe in another generation, we will see a truly forgettable Ford show up, but for now, there isn’t one in the lineup... hooray for that!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

2006 Ford Mustang: Retro Cruiser

2006 Ford Mustang GT - Photo: Flickr
When Ford decided to redesign the Mustang, they opted to incorporate a retro look, much like what was done previously with the Thunderbird. Fortunately, Ford didn’t look at the ghastly Mustang II series from the 1970s for a template, instead, the US automaker drew upon the second generation Mustangs of the late 1960s for their inspiration. Let’s just say that the redesigned Mustang has been nothing short of a sell out hit.

Introduced as a 2005 model, the retro Mustang for 2006 offers only one change: the introduction of a Pony package which is meant to give the car a GT look and feel. Borrowing from the fastback design of the late 1960s, the 2005 model was such a hit that Ford could not keep up with production.

Buyers have a choice between a 4.0L V6 and a 4.6L V8 engine to power the car. With 2+2 seating, 107-inch wheelbase, and a curb weight of just under 3500 pounds, the car cruises down the highway with 210 and 300 horses respectively. Each engine is mated with a 5-speed manual transmission and a 5-speed automatic transmission is optional for both. 4 wheel disc brakes and optional traction control [standard with the V8] help keep the Mustang under control. Cloth bucket seats are standard with leather seats optional. All models come with a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power locks and windows, power side mirrors, and air conditioning.

Ford gives buyers a choice between 5 coupe and 5 convertible models with base MSRP starting at $19,810 for the coupe and $24,635 for the convertible. First-year sales of the Mustang were so good that the car sold out by early Spring. In fact, the Mustang dethroned the Chrysler 300 as the hottest car on the market with more than 15,000 Mustangs sold per month. All of this production is from just one factory.

Production for 2006 is certain to be tight and with little incentives available – they certainly aren’t needed – the Mustang is likely to continue to have a long waiting list of customers desiring the sporty coupe. Considering that sales across the Ford division are flat, this is good news for an automaker desperately needing a hot seller.

Monday, April 2, 2018

2006 Ford Taurus: Swan Song

Ford Taurus Sedan - Photo: Wikimedia
The 2006 model year will end the heralded Taurus name and for this writer, it is a bittersweet time as Ford retires what once the best selling car in all of America.

When Ford introduced the Taurus along with its cousin the Mercury Sable in the mid-1980s the car represented a radical departure from the standard American car of the day. Fairly large, front wheel drive, and very aerodynamic, the Taurus quickly rose to the pinnacle of the American car sales charts and was the best selling car for several years in a row. A much delayed “reskinning” did not occur until 1996, some ten years after the Taurus and Sable were first released. The new style, perceived by some to be ugly, quickly cost Ford sales as newer and more modern Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords outgained the line.  Slight changes in style incorporated with the 2000 model year took some of the edges off, but by then the Taurus was considered to be too old and outmatched by the competition.

I purchased an all-new 1994 Taurus and kept the car for seven years, racking up 117,000 miles before deciding it was time to trade in the car for something newer. I found the ride to be comfortable, the interior room to be expansive, and I enjoyed the overall style of the car. I was also one of the first people to purchase a Taurus in the then new Hunter Green color, an attractive deep green that was admired by many. 

When 2001 rolled around, I elected to lease a Saturn L series instead of going with the Taurus. I needed something similar in size with the Taurus and at that time Saturn had a lease deal that could not be beaten. In addition, I still wasn’t impressed with the Taurus which I felt had been out-engineered by other cars in its class. So, I took home the Saturn and donated my Taurus to the Kidney Foundation.

The 2005 model year represented the final year that Ford would offer the Taurus through dealers; for 2006 the Taurus is only available as a fleet car and it is unchanged from the previous year’s model. The slow-selling Sable was mercifully put to rest one year earlier.

For Ford, concentrating on trucks and SUVs meant neglecting much of their car line up, including the Taurus. Bigger and stronger SUVs, including the Expedition and Excursion, were introduced as America’s tastes continued to shift from passenger cars to SUVs. In addition, the ever popular F Series pick up trucks went through regular style and engineering changes every four years or so as did the Explorer, Ford’s midsized SUV.

Higher gas prices and changing tastes are once again impacting Fords’ line up. The beefy Excursion is gone and new cars including the Five Hundred and Fusion are now part of the lineup. These two new models represent a fresh change for Ford and a promise that the attention once given to the Taurus would be given to the new models. For that, I am glad.