1989 Ford Probe GT Turbo: Swiftly, Cheaply


When you think about the cars that top an enthusiast’s wish list for cheap projects, the usual suspects are there: GTIs, Miatas, 944s, and the like. I don’t often hear the words “Probe GT” thrown in to the mix despite a fair amount of reporting that seemed to indicate it was a half-decent way to get from Point A to Point B. Even harder to find is a clean first-generation Probe that came from the factory with a turbocharged and intercooled 2.2L 4-cylinder, unless you happen to live near Wichita where one in excellent condition is listed here on craigslist for $2,200.


The Probe caused quite a stir among the Ford faithful when it was first introduced, and not necessarily for the right reasons. It was proposed as a replacement for the disappointing EXP, which was effectively swoopy sheetmetal draped over an Escort chassis, delivering neither the performance nor the handling qualities customers sought in a sporty hatchback. The Probe, a joint venture with Mazda and built at the same plant that manufactured the 626 and the MX-6, was even floated as a potential replacement for the Mustang, which was quickly shouted down by the V8-loving, rear-wheel-drive faithful.


Despite this initial friction, the Probe entered the market with high hopes – and a high price tag for its class. Though not a sales success, I’ve always felt the GT model offered a lot of bang for the buck. Obviously, there’s the turbocharged and intercooled engine that pushed out 190 lbs. ft. of torque, along with a unique suspension that featured a range of adjustability settings and 4-wheel disc brakes. I’ve always been a sucker for pop-up headlights, and the rear hatch versatility made this a sporty coupe you sell yourself on for the added convenience and storage space. And those totally-80s slicer wheels? Yeah, I love those, too.


By now, many of these Probes have already been around the cheap used car block more than once. That means they’re ratty, modified or just plain sickly-looking. Fortunately, this example seems to have escaped those ugly fates and is super clean, right down to the bolstered front seats. With a tick over 100,000 miles, you can bet the Mazda underpinnings have a lot more life left in them, and the charcoal over gray combination is a nice change of pace from the red of fuchsia colors so many Probes come in. I hope this car finds a good home and doesn’t end up some teenager’s boost project, because there aren’t many left and the ones that remain in this condition grow fewer by the day.


  1. Doug M. (West Coast)

    Gone already??

  2. Peter R

    yep, deleted by author
    Guys, is the email address here “mail@ccc.com” or…? I don’t see it listed anywhere???

  3. jim s

    if the car was all there it would have be a great buy at the price. almost bought one when new but passed at last minute. the probe has come and gone but the mustang is still going strong. great find

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