The Ruby Rocket Ford Probe from Lithuania
It's bright red, it's shiny, and it goes fast
Let me get this straight. This is a Lithuanian car made by an American company and based on a Japanese design. Yeah, I like that combination.
This is Iness's second-generation 1997 Ford Probe and it's very likely one of the few Probes still left in this condition. I mean, this car is just beautiful from any angle.
The Probe was made from 1988 until 1997 as a result of Ford's partnership with Mazda. Both generations were based on the Mazda G platform that was also used in the Mazda 626 and Mazda Capella. It was intended to fill in the gap left by the Ford Capri in Europe and be the fourth-generation Ford Mustang in North America as a competitor to the popular sports cars of the time like the Acura Integra, Isuzu Piazza, Nissan 200SX, and the Toyota Celica. When fans of the Mustang complained about the FWD configuration, lack of V8 engine, and the overall Japanese design, Ford called it the Probe and moved on to create a new design for the fourth-gen Mustang.
Now let's go back to this specific Probe. As with many of us car people, Iness had a childhood passion for American muscle and red sports cars. When she grew up, that passion eventually evolved into the Ford Probe you see here.
It didn't quite start life like this though. When she bought it, it was a fully stock base model Probe with no rust and low mileage. The base model came with the 2.0L Mazda FS 16-valve 4-cylinder engine that made around 118 HP. That wasn't enough oomph for this red rocket though so Iness dropped in a 2.5L Mazda KL-DE 24-valve V6 engine from a GT model that makes around 165 HP. In a 2,894 lb (1,313 kg) car,. you're basically flying.
The exterior got some love too, of course. Some details on the car were changed from European-spec to American-spec. According to the lady herself, the rear and front blinkers in European Probes were orange while in American Probes, the rear ones were red and the front ones were white. The pop-up headlights basically touched the front bumper in American-spec cars while the European cars had a small triangle that separated the two. In addition, the windows were tinted, the suspension was lowered, and the look was finished with 17-inch BBS wheels.
"They're small things, but they made a big aesthetic difference."
Future plans for the car are pretty much just general maintenance and factory red leather seats to break up the all-black interior a bit. If you ask me, that's the perfect thing to do with a car like this. There aren't that many of them left on the road and seeing one this loved brings a tear to my eye. It's these kinds of cars that will end up becoming some of the rarest; the "in-between" models that were never really flagships of their particular brand and weren't as loved as their brethren. I'd like to thank Iness for sharing this lovely Ford Probe with us and end this article with a few words from her that helps explain why unloved cars deserve love too.
"I always told everyone that I will have a red sports car and I never changed my mind until I got my Ford Probe! This car is special inside and out. It's a reliable and economical car with a powerful engine. It charms most people with its pop-up headlights and they're very rare these days. It definitely makes everyone's heads turn!"