We came across this video the other day of the Ford EXP introduction. We were surprised because we certainly didn’t think anyone would ever fondly remember this thing. But we do remember the EXP very clearly… but certainly not fondly.
We never owned one… we never wanted to and we never would even imagine such a thing. But we did drive one once in the mid-eighties. This was in the fall of 1983 (the beginning of the 1984 model year). A brand new 1984 120 HP turbo EXP had just come in at the dealer (1.6 liters, DOHC, transverse 4 cylinder with 5-speed manual). The dealer’s owner, being a friend, tossed us the keys. We closely looked over the car – it was odd beyond belief. The styling appeared to want to imitate a car with pop-up headlamps… up! Perhaps the budget failed at the last-minute and the car was originally supposed to have pop-ups? We seem to remember a spy pic in AutoWeek of such a thing.
The EXP has a bit of an infamous history. Car & Driver and Road & Track entered matching EXPs against each other in the (in)famous 24 hour endurance race at Nelson Ledges. These were naturally aspirated cars – with all of ~90 HP! As we remember, both entries failed due to repeated front wheel bearing failure. The hot ticket, discovered too late for the event, was the European Escort Diesel bearing, and of course Ford of N.A. got cheap with their development budget. Seems to us that the entire line of Escorts have all had this issue. Ford apparently never got it right.
The test drive started well enough.. we started the car and remember a nice burble in the exhaust. When we took off, there was HUGE torque steer (far more than in the Rabbit GTI we had driven a few months before). It was all we could do to immediately let off the gas. One tire was spinning like mad… there was traction from (barely) only 1 side. If the EXP wasn’t already entirely pointless, it sure was once you drove it.
The handling, despite Michelin TRX tires, was also poor. The seats were a cheap version of the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe seats (Lear Siegler), the same cheap seats used in our own (and much-hated) 1983 Mustang GT. Again, in both ways, the GTI was far superior. When we finally got back to the dealer, one front tire was ruined (and not from me abusing it, all it did was spin the entire time) and the engine was very hot (Fords were as bad from over-heating in street driving as they are now).
All in all, a very very *very* poor effort by Ford.
Some time later, we did notice a somewhat better effort – but not by Ford. We were at a swap meet in Columbus when there was a huge exhaust and induction roar behind us. We turned around in came… an EXP! We walked over to talk to the driver… the car had been converted to RWD and it was powered by a BOSS 429 engine. Built for drag racing, it was nonetheless registered for the street (something you couldn’t get away with these days). Thsi same car was featured in Super Ford sometime later (you may be able to find that issue for reference).
The EXP evolved a bit over the years of its lifespan, eventually switching to the front end from the later Escort GT (circa 1986) along with its far better 1.9 liter “CVT” engine. That engine was the first Escort engine specifically designed for North America, and had decent torque and acceleration – especially in the even later high-output “GT” form. But, as is so typical from Ford, even that car never approached the far more serious Escorts in Europe – such as the 1982 Escort RS1600i.
Seems that Ford takes forever to learn, although today the North American Focus ST is identical in spec (although not options) around the entire world. Finally – after 30 years!
We’ve been closely watching the development at Cobb Tuning of their new lines of parts for the Ford Focus ST. How about 26% more horsepower, and 28% more torque?
You’ll note from the video that the parts are extremely well built and integrated into the Focus ST: no open filters (always a dumb idea), elimination of cats, or a droning exhaust. In other words, this is top-quality and very professional work. We’re very tempted to get a Focus ST and install these parts ourselves.
Having been thru so many new car introductions in our thirty year history in the hobby, it’s always interesting – and definitely more than a bit sad – to watch the almost endless cycle of great looking concept cars, followed by a so-so or often ho-hum production model.
The latest model to hit the sad fan is the upcoming 2014 Subaru WRX. The concept car hit the show circuit recently and it was more than fabulous, although also obviously not tenable:
And then the final production model was spotted at the Nurburgring. It’s a Legacy, with model-specific flared front fenders, hood, front cap, rear fenders, rear bumper, and of course the expected wing. Some fans who believed that Subaru would build something like the blue Concept above were let down – even though it was clear that it never could have happened, especially given the budget Subaru operates under for the WRX and STI. It had to be based on a production car.
Fans get disappointed a lot in this hobby. Take the current Mustang, for example, which was introduced for the model year 2005. Ford first released two concepts, however, styled as shown below, and on an entirely different chassis – the DEW-98 platform, used for the Lincoln LS, Thunderbird, and Jag S-Type – and originally developed for the Mustang but dropped due to cost concerns. What we were shown was a great looking car, with the DEW-98 state-of-the-art chassis ( all aluminum double A-arms up front, and IRS out back), and featuring a supercharged 4.6 DOHC V-8:
The inexperienced observer would be excited and hopeful because it appeared the Mustang was about to get everything every (sophisticated) fan could have hoped for. However, reality is a cruel mistress. What Ford actually delivered is this:
Not only was the uber-chassis lost, the sharp styling was lost as well. Were we cheated? Yes. When will Ford learn? We’ll see.
Meanwhile, Camaro fanboys were shown a concept in 2006 which greatly excited them – not only because their car had been cancelled permanently and was now unexpectedly resurrected from the dead, but also because the concept was a knockout (if more than a bit retro):
The production model for the 2010 model year was all but identical, including the huge bulk, terrible sightlines, enormous width, and the full concept interior with its terrible ergonomics. All that was dropped was some over-the-top orange treatment of the instrument gauges (which themselves retained the concept’s styling). But it was popular and as acceptance grew it finally out-sold the Mustang.
Now we are approaching a new round of ponycars: the Mustang will be all-new in 2015 (well, sort of all-new, being simply an evolution of the existing S197 platform), and the Camaro in 2016 (based on the all-new Alpha chassis, also shared with the ATS and CTS).
We’ve seen several Mustang development mules thanks to spy photographers, showing the Fusion-like front end, but not yet the final rear shape:
The styling of the production car, like the Fusion and all new Fords going forward, is based on Ford’s 2011 Evos concept. As Alan Mulally says, when he steps off a plane in another country, he wants to be able to instantly recognize the local Fords.
From spy pictures, including an underhood picture, we know that the 2015 Mustang has the same grill and swept-back headlamps. We’ve also seen pictures of several small-scale clay models in Ford’s styling studios – and while none of those are production (hundreds of drawings would have been made, and many of the most promising converted to clay), they do all show the same shape and dimensions as the Evo.
So the question is: will Ford deliver a concept of the 2015 Mustang before production commences (presumably in the spring of 2015)? And will that concept accurately preview production… or will reality again be cruel to us?
If there will be a concept delivered, we may see it as early as the LA Auto Show this coming November, but traditionally it would be far more likely to appear in Detroit at the NAIAS in January. And while most observers are assuming that the production model will be shown at the Mustang Club of America 50th anniversary celebration event in April 2014, it’s possible that only a concept could be shown there with the production car introduced later. No doubt this is all being decided now… and we’ll just have to be patient in the meantime. And that, folks, is the car hobby.
Motor Trend has already tested the new Focus ST against the MazdaSpeed3… and the ST won. But car buying is more than just numbers or styling – the unanswered question until you buy and begin to live with it is what the car would be like in ownership. Day-to-day driving, bad traffic, the occasional blasts down back country roads, cruising down the highway or even squirting the car from stoplight to stoplight. That’s the part that magazines almost never cover.
If you decide you can live with the styling of the Mazda3 family, you can certainly live with the engine and transmission. The engine is a nearly state-of-the-art turbocharged and direct injected 2.3 liter engine. You might literally say that the MazdaSpeed 2.3 was an EcoBoost engine before there was a Ford EcoBoost family. Not only is the engine a Ford engine design underneath, Ford owned the majority of Mazda when the engine was originally developed. But the biggest problem is torque steer, wildly absurd torque steer. In a chassis that was obviously never designed for this engine. Can you live with it… and if you choose the next-gen version of this same chassis – the Focus ST, can you live with the diminished torque steer that is still present in that car (and to one large degree or another, all front wheel drive cars?). Motor Trend set out to compare the two.
Yes, the older design looses again, and badly. We know that a new Mazda3 is coming very soon, spy pictures have shown a similarly sized vehicle being tested and we also know that the chassis is all-new. What we don’t know is if a MazdaSpeed engine will even be offered, and what we won’t be able to find out until that question is answered and a MazdaSpeed3 is delivered is if Mazda will tame some of it’s likely torque steer.
And, just in case Mazda decides not to offer such an engine again, here’s a link to our high-res image of the MazdaSpeed3 engine. Click on the image!
For drag racing (and strictly off-road use only), Ford introduced a twin-turbo 5 liter V-8 powered Cobra Jet Mustang Concept at SEMA in 2012. The engine uses EcoBoost technologies with twin ball-bearing turbochargers. Power and torque were not specified.
Unfortunately, per the SEMA picture below, the engine will not fit conventionally into a street Mustang’s engine compartment… the placement of the turbos and intercooler are totally wrong. How this engine could be used in a future Mustang is up in the air. Likely the turbos would be moved much closer to the engine, probably drawn u in front of it. But then in the current car (as well as the 2015 with it’s much tighter engine compartment), the fuse box would be directly on top of the left turbo, and the air intake on the right. That wouldn’t meet production standards, so the use of an engine like this in the future Mustang is doubtful.
Ford Press Release and images:
Ford Mustang Cobra Jet Concept Goes Twin-Turbo for SEMA Debut
- New Cobra Jet concept adopts turbocharging technology from production EcoBoost® engines in the quest for ever more performance
- Since its 2008 debut, the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet has been the most successful production-based drag racer
- Ford Racing engineers have continuously improved and evolved the Cobra Jet to keep it at the head of its class
LAS VEGAS, Oct. 30, 2012 – The Ford Racing Mustang Cobra Jet concept revealed today at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show proves there is indeed a replacement for displacement.
The staggering announcements from Ford continue today: first the merger with BMW and now this new announcement with Honda. With strong U.S. sales and the promise of being rid of the idiot idiot U.S. President in 2016, Ford is determined to position itself to become the #1 auto maker in the world.
Ford Press Release follows:
FORD INNOVATION TAKES NEW DIRECTION
Honda OEM Technology (HOT) 011-81-3-438-3278
Dearborn, Michigan. April 1, 2012 - Ford Motor Company has a long history of necessarily turning to OEM technology when the company’s own engineering and research labs have been effected by the latest reorganization. Past examples of this include Manly for H-beam connecting rods, Recaro seating, Brembo braking, and more. By partnering in the aftermarket instead of innovating at home, the net result is better products all around.
Today, Ford announces a new partner: Honda OEM Technology (HOT). HOT will supply Ford with i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology for use on selected Ford engines beginning in the 2011 model year.
“Ford performance vehicles, particularly SVT products, have historically sucked. The addition of i-VTEC to legacy Ford engines is the single best strategy for Ford to pursue. I am also pleased to announce today that we are in early negotiation with Ford for licensing HOT suspension technology as well”. – Motoharu “Gan san” Kurosawa, HOT Consultant.
The idea to partner with HOT was the brainchild of Billy Ford, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “I like the idea of revving higher and higher”, said Billy, “Normally my ideas run out of oxygen but now we can go to new heights and stay high longer.”
Ford turned to Honda OEM Technology as part of its comprehensive reorganization plan, known as “Waaaay Forward”, to revitalize the appeal of its North American products. Ford Product Planners conducted extensive market research and found to its surprise that the demographic it had been building performance products for – known in the planning department as “straight-liners” – does in fact represent less than .000001 of the marketplace and that the vast majority of the remaining market prefers vehicles that are fun and dynamic over a wide range of driving conditions. Thus the benefits of the partnership with HOT will revitalize Ford products for mainstream buyers. An added bonus to consumers is the extensive engineering testing that HOT technology is subjected to, leading to extraordinary quality and longevity.
“We’ll never appease the pushrod snobs” – Hau Thai-Tang, former head of SVT and currently living under a bridge near the former site of the Ford Atlanta Assembly Plant.
Ford engineers have been testing the new-to-Ford technology for the past 2 years on public roads. One particularly popular car with young Ford engineers is a test mule built from the concept car formerly known as the “BOSS 604”, now painted a stealthy green. The car is popular with Ford’s young engineers and is usually the first car requested for weekend use. Except for the none-too-stealthy badge on the rear trunk lid, the public would be hard pressed to identify this as a manufacturing test vehicle.
In fact, that car is a test bed for Ford’s first product built with HOT – a 5 liter double-overhead cam (DOHC) V-8 engine producing 500 horsepower @ 8000 RPM (100hp/liter) under the rigorous Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) test procedure J2723. Furthermore, the engine meets tough Tier II and ULEV emissions standards. The engine will debut in 2015. Future evolution – particularly in the underpinning Ford legacy parts – is expected to yield as much as 120HP/liter.
“The development costs associated with adapting HOT technology to legacy Ford engines is the reason we had to cancel our product plans for all but one special-edition Mustang. We needed so many funds to totally re-engineer that car and get it right for 2015 that I ended up cancelling myself as well” – Phil Martens, former group vice president, Product Creation, North America, Ford Motor Company.
Charts explaining how i-VTEC technology contributes to emissions and drivability.
Ford Engineering Technician performing fuel economy calibration in Prototype #1 near Allen Park, MI
Note VTEC badge on trunk lid
;-) April Fools!
A question foremost in the minds of motoring enthusiasts around the world is what direction Ford will take for the next Mustang. It’s an open secret that a new Mustang will be released in April 2014 on the 50th anniversary of the original Mustang.
A key element in Ford’s strategy was announced today: the outright purchase of BMW. BMW will be folded into Ford as a new division. And, in keeping with the “One Ford” plan, BMW’s existing product plan will be modified to use Ford chassis technology and parts.
The new BMW division has also been ordered to adopt Ford “muscle” styling clichés in order to appeal to the market demographic known as “old fat guys in their 50s”. These are former straight-liners who have reached their economic plateau and seek the appearance of sophistication, but because they have passed their physical and mental prime, need the comfort and reassurance of familiar Ford styling and technology. The SVT M4 will feature wide flat seats, special door hinges for ease of ingress, a “tried and true” inline 6 cylinder engine from Ford of Australia, raised white letter tires, and a 4-link solid rear axle with “quad shocks”. It will be the first product on the market from the new BMW division.
Conversely, spy pictures reveal that the new 2015 Mustang will borrow upmarket BMW styling “influences” in an attempt to retain anxious Mustang buyers who have been leaving for Hyundai and Kia. To speed the new product to market, and as part of Billy Ford’s continued campaign against all things “Jac Nasser”, the Mustang will go back to the SN95 platform. The tooling for the SN95 had been sent to Venezuela in 2005 to be used for a new product there, but the dictator Chavez stopped shipment at the entry port and sent it home saying he didn’t want a “Yankee hand-me-down”. A plan was then formed to use it as the basis of a new Jeepney in the Philippines in 2008, but that plan failed as well. As did a sale of it to the Chinese in 2010, where Hau Thai-Tang, Chairman of the Peoples Original Superior Car Company (POSCC), was quoted as saying “we’ve already copied it”.
So it was conveniently available for use by the 2015 Mustang, and handily met the financial budget as well. The following spy pictures show a final production sign-off prototype, parked outside the palatial suburban Detroit home of returning Team Mustang Chief Janine Bay. When told that the secret plans had been revealed by the press, Ms. Bay was quoted as saying that “the SN95 platform, an update of the FOX platform designed in the middle 70s, ain’t broke and will continue to provide a loyal and faithful basis for the Mustang at least into the 22nd century”.
;-) Happy April Fools Day (or is it?)
Yes, those are 370Z wheels on an S197 Mustang! A matched set front/rear, same as the Z they came off of. And the offset is very nearly perfect.
We have a few more months before the 2014 Fiesta ST is available here in North America, however the first production models have rolled off the line on February 6, 2013 in Cologne, Germany.
When it’s here, the 2720 pound 197 HP 215 lb-ft Fiesta ST will be a pocket rocket unlike any other in the country.
Ford Press video and technical specifications follow.
2014 FORD FIESTA ST
1.6-liter five-door hatchback
|Construction||Unitized steel body|
|Final assembly location||Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico|
|POWERTRAIN AND CHASSIS|
|Type||1.6-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost®|
|Manufacturing location||Bridgend, UK|
|Configuration||Aluminum block and head|
|Valvetrain||DOHC, four valves per cylinder|
|Bore x stroke||3.10 x 3.20inches/79.0 x 81.4 mm|
|Displacement||97.4 cu. in./1,596 cc|
|Horsepower||197 @ 6,350 rpm (est. w/premium fuel)|
|Torque||215 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm (est. w/premium fuel)|
|Recommended fuel||87 octane|
|Fuel capacity||12.4 gallons|
|Fuel injection||Gasoline turbocharged direct injected|
|Oil capacity||4.25 quarts with filter|
|Emission control||Three-way catalyst|
|Federal emissions (tailpipe/evaporation) (50-state)||Tier 2 Bin 4/LEV II|
|Final drive||3.82 to 1|
|Front||Independent MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar|
|Rear||Twist beam with coil springs|
|Type||rack-and-pinion with EPAS|
|Turning circlecurb-to-curb||35.5 ft.|
|Type||Power-assisted disc brakes with four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) and three-mode AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control|
|Front||10.9-inch vented disc|
|Rear||9.96-inch solid disc|
|TIRES AND WHEELS (TYPE, SIZE)|
|ST Hatchback||17-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires|
|DIMENSIONS (inches unless otherwise noted)|
|Front shoulder room||52.7|
|Front hip room||50.6|
|Rear shoulder room||49.0|
|Rear hip room||49.2|
|WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES|
|Total passenger volume (cu. ft.)||85.1|
|Cargo volume (cu. ft.)||10.1 – full-size spare tire included|
|capacity (properly equipped)||Not recommended|
|BASE CURB WEIGHT (POUNDS)|
|1.6-liter, six-speed manual||
Not yet EPA rated
GREAT to see Road & Track, our favorite enthusiast magazine, return to blogging this past week. And with a story of interest to all Mustang and 60′s car enthusiasts: a “short” Mustang prototype from the 1964 era. Which some of you will have the opportunity to see the car in person at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance next week.