AUSTRALIAN FORD PROBES

The differences between the Australian and US Probes

By Howard Nessen, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Introduction

The First Generation Probes were never officially sold in Australia by Ford. The only known examples of First Gen Probes are one example seen in the classified section of "Unique Cars" Magazine and the Prostock Racecar of Joe Polito based in Sydney, NSW, Australia.

The Second Gen Probes were sold in Australia from July 1994 until November 1997. Unlike their American cousins, all 94-97 Australian 2nd Gen Aussie Probes were, both internally and externally very similar. From 1994-97, the interiors were almost identical with the only known changes being the seat fabrics. All 94-97 interiors were black with gray fabrics. Exterior changes were also very minimal with the differences being:

Small Probe letters on side windows deleted around 96.

For 94 and 95, the side mirrors were totally color coded, in 96 and 97 the bases and "mirror trim ring" were black.

Side molding on 94-96 started about 9" on rear of Front fender, ran across door and onto

Rear fender to rear wheel opening. On 97’s the molding was NOT on the front fenders and started on the door and ran onto the rear fender about 12’’.

On very late 97’s, the wheels changed from the ‘star’ mags to the 5 spoke ‘swirl’ mags.

The Aussie Probes in General

All Aussie Probes were GT’s, 2.5 V6, 24 Valve but were not called GT’s. All Probes had the GT front bumpers, side skirts and body moldings, but there was never any reference to the letters "GT" anywhere, not even in the owner’s handbook. It was simply sold as The Ford Probe 24V. No 4 cylinder Base or SE’s ever made it here. There was only ONE option from 94-97, and that was automatic transmission.

Standard equipment on all 94-97 Probes was:

Electric lumbar and side support on driver seat

Dual airbags

Air Conditioning

Cruise control

Power Door locks

Power windows

Adjustable steering column with leather steering wheel

16" x 7" 5 spoke alloy mag wheels

225/50vr 16 Michelin Pilot tires

Driving lights (not fog lights)

Heated rear view mirrors (on 94 only)

Anti lift spoiler on drivers windscreen wiper

Rear windscreen wiper and washer

Power antenna

5 speaker cassette with AM/FM radio

ABS brakes with 4 wheel discs

Power steering

Sport suspension

Interestingly, the following options which were never offered, but would have been extremely popular were, the Electric Sunroof and CD player.

Other General Items of Interest

All Aussie Probes from 94-97 had almost identical rear end treatments. From 94 on, the taillights were the same unlike the US models. All rear turn signals were yellow, then red taillight/brake light, clear reverse light and in the middle was a red ‘fake’ taillight. This red panel never had a reference to GT and was always plain (as on the 97 GTS). All taillights on 94-95’s had dark burgundy (not RED) borders, whilst 96-97’s had black borders. No Aussie Probes ever had the licence plate in between the taillights.

The rear license plate was always situated on the bumper, in a recess similar to the 95-97 US Probes. However, compared to the US recess, the Aussie recess is longer (about 20") which is considerably longer than the license plate. My suspicion is that the rear bumper was made for the British market. Below the license plate recess are two ‘slots’, each about 4" long compared to the US single slot.

All Aussie Probes had identical fronts to the US Probes (unlike the European Probes) but we never had the black plastic license plate mounting frames. The front license plate was fixed directly on to the bumper.

Weird Facts

What is extremely weird and interesting, is that the 96-97 Aussie Probes had black bordered taillights from 94, which is clearly two years before the US Probes. In addition, the license plate was only ever in a recess on the rear bumper, which was one year prior to the 95 US Probes. And, the red ‘reflector’ was plain from 94 on, which didn’t appear in the US until the 97 GTS. Why the small export market got items before the American market astounds me! I can only think that when the 2nd Gen was planned for release in (say) 91-92, that the look of the exports being so popular over here, helped make a few decisions for the US market.

Another interesting fact, was that the Aussie Probes had 93-94 US style interiors, from 94-97.

The only color interiors were Black with gray fabrics. The door trims had the "pocket" style door grab handles and the perforated material on the doors. All bucket seats from 94-97, were US 93-94 style, with the ‘hole’ through the seat back, forming a type of headrest. At first,

I could not understand why my 97 had a "93-94 US style" interior, but after a time it became obvious. It was purely economical.

If you look closely, the left and right door trims are not exact mirror images. With the Probe styling the dash wraps around into the door trims, and as the dash protrudes more on the passenger side than the driver’s side, the door trims could not be the same. As the Aussie probes are all right hand drive, it would have been an expensive exercise to remanufacture door trims and change the interiors just for a few right hand drive exports. In addition, as the All-Electric right hand seat is the (aussie) driver’s seat, it would have been expensive to remanufacture a new design seat just for the export market.

THE DIFFERENCES……..

The Aussie Exterior

Front Bumpers – all bumpers are GT style. Front license plate fixed direct to bumper, no license plate frame. Turn signals in bumper are removed and the lens is clear with a silver section inside.

Driving Lights – for some strange reason, fog lights are replaced with driving lights. These operate only with the headlights on high beam, they have no switch and cannot be turned on or off. High Beam is headlights and driving lights.

Headlights – when the driver flashes by pulling on the turn signal "stick", the driving lights flash not the headlights. Unlike the US PGT’s, which have the headlights pop up and flash. The headlights cannot be in the upright position without the lights on.

Side Marker Lights - because the front turn signals are blocked off they are relocated to the front fenders. As far as I can ascertain, this was due to some offbeat Aussie design rule.

Mirrors – All 94-97 models had the breakaway type mirrors. 94-95 mirrors were totally color coded, whilst 96-97 had black bases and trim rings.

Rear Lights – turn signals are yellow, all models have red centre section.

Rear Bumper – all models have large license plate recess with twin "slots" under.

Spoiler – All 94-95 models had no spoiler, all 96-97 had a rear spoiler. There was absolutely no choice. (I personally didn’t want one, but with a 97, I had no choice!)

Wheels – only wheels are five spoke silver mags. Late 97’s had the five spoke swirl type.

The Aussie Interior

Right Hand Drive….of course!

The Stereo – all models have a cassette stereo. CD was never an option.

The Console – the Aussie console has (from top to bottom) a stereo, the heater and aircon controls, then five switches of which two are blank and the other three are rear widow washer, rear window wiper and rear window demister. Below this is a digital clock and a space for business cards, cigarettes etc. An interesting point is that all US PGT’s seemed to have round heater and aircon controls, whereas the Aussies had eight illuminated buttons. Five are grouped together for positioning of the airflow i.e. face level, foot level etc. Two are for fresh and recirculating air and the last is for air conditioning on/off. ( See photo below )

Seats – all 94-97 have 93 US seats with the cutout or hole forming a headrest. All have electric lumbar and bolster.

Steering Wheels – 94 & 95 models had vinyl (or leather?) wheels with perforations similar to the door trims. 96 & 97 models had plain black leather wheels.

Cruise control – standard equipment.

Trim – all 94-97 have black and gray 93 US style dash and door trims. 94 & 95 models ONLY have a "grab handle" on the passenger door under the door handle.

The Aussie Engine Bay

Naturally, the engine bay has the standard V6 engine bay, but with one big difference. It has been built as a true right hand drive car. Some American cars that are exported to Australia, are converted and (in some cases) have the brake master cylinder and booster on the left with rods connected across to a right hand pedal.

The Aussie PGT has the brake system on the right hand side and the air conditioning system on the left. Interestingly, the windscreen wiper system has also been mirror imaged so that the wipers have the correct sweep. This is usually overlooked on some US imports to Australia.

I am not sure what other components have been mirror imaged.

Conclusion

From my research and my visits to the US including the 1999 trip with the SCPOC, I have formulated this information. I stand to be corrected if someone can add some assistance. One can only speculate why Ford did what they did with the Aussie Probes. Why they had some options and not others, nobody can understand….and why the Aussie cars had things before the US models is even stranger!!

Also, from my observations, the Australian Probes are the closest "cousins" to the US PGT’s.

The British and European Probes seem to be the ugly ducklings of the Probe exports…….

The main thing is that ( thankfully ) Ford Australia decided to import this fabulous car. They may be different to the US models BUT…….. they are made in Flat Rock, Michigan and they are 100% F O R D  P R O B E.

Compiled by Howard Nessen, owner of the above 97 Probe 24V (GT) 5 speed. It was brought into Australia in Nov 97 and was a Ford Australia Executive’s car.  I bought it from Ford in July 98, with 11,000 km (7000 miles) and it remains dead stock…for the moment!

Color - "Rich Jade" according to Australian spec sheet

"Medium Alpine Green" according to ’97 US Color Chart.