Starting in the late 1970s, Ford and Ghia started exploring a series of futuristic designs under the "probe" series of concept cars. The Probe I, first shown in 1979, was a wedge-shaped design that incorporated a number of drag-reducing features like covered rear wheels and pop-up headlights. This was followed the next year by a much more conventional looking Probe II, whose hatchback styling is reminiscent of the Pony cars. 1981's Probe III was an advanced demonstrator with covered wheels, but its bodywork evolved into the more conventional Ford Sierra (or Merkur XR4Ti) and styling notes were used on the Ford Taurus. 1982's Probe IV was a more radical concept car with an extremely low Cd, and evolved into 1984's equally radical Probe V.
In the 1980s, a predicted increase in oil prices prompted Ford to give the Ford Mustang a major redesign. The new design would be based on a totally new platform introduced to Ford by Japanese car manufacturer and Ford partner Mazda. But when the new generation of the Ford Mustang neared its release date, oil prices dropped to an all time low and Ford Mustang buyers expressed their displeasure in the style of the proposed replacement. The car was eventually released, not as a Ford Mustang but as the Ford Probe.
The Ford Probe is a product of the joint Ford and Mazda venture called the AutoAlliance. It's unique body panels and interior were designed and manufactured in the AutoAlliance International Incorporated assembly plant located in Flat Rock, Michigan, the same plant that manufactured the Mazda MX-6 coupe and Mazda 626 sedan for the North American market.
The Ford Probe was introduced to the US market in 1989 and was nearly identical to the Mazda MX-6. Actually, the Ford Probe shares most of its mechanical parts with the Mazda MX-6 and 626. Both the Ford Probe and the Mazda MX-6 were based on the Mazda GD platform from 1988 to 1992, and on the GE platform from 1993 to 1997.
As it was initially planned to replace the successful and popular Ford Mustang, Ford expected the Ford Probe to be a success and boost the sales for the company. But the car fell short of Ford’s expectations. The style of the said coupe, while modern, was not universally accepted. It was neither affordable, making many buyers choose some other more-prestigious brand for the price they would pay for a Ford Probe. It was not able to match the success of the Ford Mustang and in fact never got near the expected sales figures, selling only 837,273 units in its eight year production run. In 1997, sales dropped to only 32,505 units, and it was finally discontinued.