Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ford's big gamble?

The Mazda6 range, sedan, 5 door and wagon, with cross over coming soon. This is the platform that Ford is counting on for quite a few Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. Didn't we used to make fun of GM when they did this? Don't get me wrong, the Mazda6 is a great car and some of these future models have inspired styling, but is that enough to satisfy the American market? I guess if it works for GM, but aren't they in deep water?

Ford Fusion, the replacement for the Taurus, based on the Mazda6 with styling borrowed from the 427 concept car. The Fusion name borrowed from a European Ford mini MPV.


Mercury Milan brother to the Ford Fusion. Based on Mazda6

The new entry level Lincoln, named after the classic Lincoln of the 30's, not to be confused with the bland Mercury Zephyr of the 70's and 80's. Based on the Mazda6 and rumored to have 250 hp. I guess they didn't want to brush off the Versailles name. I actually like the styling of this car. Time will tell

rear view of Lincoln Zephyr


The Mazda Crossport, crossover based on Mazda6. This nicely styled crossover wagon could be the platform for new models from Ford and LIncon.

Lincoln Aviator to be baed on Mazda Crossport, which is based on Mazda6.

Fairlane Concept could be based on Mazda Crossport, to replace Freestar or help fill the gap between minvan and Freestyle.

Taurus/Sable to say goodbye this year after almost 20 years

This Taurus sits in the Henry Ford Museum, an example of forward thinking cars that changed the industry. And while now people may not remember, the Taurus did that in a big way. The Aero styling was a breakthrough for a US model and while GM was selling front wheel drive mid-size cars like the Celebrity, the Taurus was a milestone car. I remember driving one in 1987 and being very impressedwith the quality and performance. Now you may smirk when I say performance, but at the time GM and Chrysler had nothing comporable and to tell the truth the 3.0 V-6 was very good.

1986-1990 first generation Taurus, the car that saved Ford in the 80's and went on to become the best selling car in the US for several years.

1991-1995 second generation Taurus

1996-1999 third generation Taurus.

2000-2005 fourth generation Taurus, the last of the series. This nameplate and it's sister the Sable will be terminated this year. Ford replacing them with the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan, based on the Mazda6

Ford Fivehundred

Ford Fivehundred, based on Volvo mechanicals, available either as front or all wheel driven. This is a nice car, the interior is a big step up from Taurus. This and it's Freestyle sibling could go a long way to bolster Ford's sales, but they need just a little boost in the power. Although several car magazine have put the Freestyle and Chrysler's Pacifica head to head and despite the Chrysler's almost 50 hp advantage, the Freestyle is quicker and gets better fuel economy.

Ford Fivehundred

Ford Freestyle

Ford Freestyle, based on Volvo S-80/XC90 platform, with either front wheel or all wheel drive is a great "Crossover" vehicle. I prefer Station Wagon, but you call it what you want. I first layed eyes on this in Nashville last year at the Mustang 40th celebration. I was able to sit in it and check out everything. The only thing I couldn't do then was drive it. Not many people were paying attention to this or the 500, because there were Mustangs as far as the eye could see and a Ford GT. Not to mention all the celebrities.

The Freestyle is often compared to Minvans in magazine, and it's cargo carrying capacity is good, but this is not a minivan. I don't much like the Freestyle name, I think they could have done better than that, but it goes to that hole F and E naming scheme at Ford. I think they should have called it either Country Sedan or Cuontry Squire with some wood on the side.

While the sedan Fivehundred is flying off dealer lots, the Freestyle is not selling quite as well.
But this is a great wagon.

With all the seats folded, you have enough room for any home project. But with them up, you have room for the whole family. You can't judge well from the picture, but the Freestyle has a wonderful interior that is very flexible. I would not opt for the second row console though. There are enough cup holders without it and it gets in the way of cargo.

Fortynine Concept, maybe a little too Retro for some

Fortynine concept from Ford, based on the Thunderbird/Lincoln LS platform. Maybe a little too retro for mass apeal, but I would have loved this car. There was also a cranberry colored convertible version of the concept. I can understand why Ford didn't build this, but would have lined up for one if they did.

Focus Vignale Convertible Coupe

Just approved for production the European Ford Focus Vignale Coupe Convertible. Retractable hard top convertible. I could see these in Scarsdale or the Hamptons. Why wouldn't Ford want to import this to the US? Ford should have brought the European Focus over here, the Mazda 3 and Volvo S40 are based on the new Focus platform.

Top up, rear 3/4 view

This looks very sharp. More's the shame that we don't get the European "New" Focus, just a "freshened" last generation Focus.

Seating for four, nicely appointed. Not what we expect from a Focus. But Ford should import this to the US.

Closer shot of interior featuring center display. Why don't US Fords have this level of luxury?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Noble M12 from UK, with Ford power

Noble M12 from the UK, powered by Ford's 3.0 Duratec V-6, that's been heavilly fortified and with dual turbos to put out 350-425 hp depending on trim (GTO 3.0 or M400.) These cars cannot be imported into the US as turn key cars, only as kits, because of emissions and safety regulations. I've read reviews and seen tests on TV of this nimble british small s supercar. Unfortunately I don't have a website for this car yet, but will add the link when I do.

A car weighing in around 2,300 lbs. with 350-425 hp, must fly down the road

The view most will get of this supercar

Kamala from UK with Ford power

Kamala Futuro, from the UK is a sporty car, offered with various powerplants including the Ford 2.0 Zetec I-4 from the Focus and the 3.0 Duratec V-6. Either powerplant comes with a Ford warranty. I don't have information on availability, but check their website. I actually found this by accident while looking for info on the Noble.

Side view of this futuristic UK sports car.

GT40, Ford's Ferrari Killer

Prototype GT40

Henry Ford II standing by the GT40. He had a vendetta against Ferrari and wanted the LeMans win at almost any cost.

GT40 at LeMans, they ran in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969 winning the last 4 years and in 66 pulling off a 1-2-3 finish, with the help of Shelby.

That guy looks familar

Somehow, if it's fast and it's Ford, this fellow always has his hand in it. That's Shelby on the right. Henry Ford II asked him to help with the LeMans effort and help he did. In 1966 Ford had a 1-2-3 finish.


GT40 mk1

Gulf sponsored GT40


rear of GT40 mk1

GT40s at UK car show

Ford GT, the legend begins anew

The concept Ford GT inspired by the LeMans winner and built by the boys at SVT. Production cars are assembeled at Saleen's factory near his own S7 supercar.

Ford GT concept

Red white and blue, what could be more American than a supercharged 5.4L DOHC V-8 making 500 hp and 500 lb ft of torque? These things look fast standing still.

Want to live your own LeMans dream?

1969 DeTomaso Mangusta

Before building the Pantera, DeTomaso built the Mangusta also with Ford V-8 power. Only 400 or so of these exotic Italians were built in contrast to the almost 12,000 Panteras built between 1971 and 1996. In the the late 90's the Mangusta name was revived by DeTomaso, but sold here as the Qvale Mangusta. Mangusta is Italian for Mongoose, I wonder if he had his sites on Shelby's Cobra?

1969 DeTomaso Mangusta rear view

Not gul wing doors, but center hinged engine cover. Covering a Ford small block V-8 to be specific. In US trim a 302, in Europe a 289.

1969 Mangusta

Qvale Mangusta

2000 Qvale Mangusta, DeTomaso designed, but Qvale who had been the original importer sold them here in the US. Available with the SVT Cobra 4.6 L V-8

rear view of Qvale Mangusta

Qvale Mangusta with 4.6 L DOHC V-8 from Cobra