Remember the Ford Probe? Remember when you wanted one? Was it the chunky, first generation with the turbo mill, or was it the sleek, second generation with the sophisticated V6? For this gearhead, it was both—and for a number of good reasons.
First of all, my dad had a turbo first gen for a company car when we lived in Germany. He loved that car. An American car, built on a Japanese platform, wrapped in Italian-designed sheet metal, in 5-speed turbo trim—in Germany. Naturally, a budding gearhead, I gravitated to what Dad liked.
And, second, the second gen Probe came out the year I got my driver’s license. You know, that year you know you’ll FINALLY be able to drive and every car seems possible. It was gorgeous. So svelte. Much aero. Wow. I wanted a GT SO bad—but there was no way I was getting a new car at 16.
Just like that, the Ford Probe faded into the background of my automotive database. A car more interesting than we knew at the time. A car with a backstory many of us forgot long ago. (SN-16 Mustang, anyone?) So when Chris Breuer’s crossed my feed recently, it was like an electric shock. I had to reach out.
It’s an amazing machine!
[tgp] Introductions: My understanding is you live in Germany and have a Ford Probe. Is that correct? Anything else you’d like to mention?
[Chris] Yes sir. I own and daily drive a 1997 Ford Probe Medici with the 24v engine. And I live in Germany, near Bielefeld.
On Ford Probes…
[tgp] The most important automotive opinions are those of real, actual owners. As a Probe owner, could you share a little unvarnished truth with the rest of us? What do you love about them? What do you not love about them?
[Chris] The Ford Probe… Yeah, where do we start?
I guess the thing I like the most about it is the timeless design. It’s just a beautiful car with great lines in the right spots. Then there is also the sound of that 2.5L NA V6; with the right setup, it reminds me of some old V6 Alfa Romeos. And due to the fact that I installed a different suspension/ coilover set, the Probe even handles just right in the corners, unlike the factory setup.
This is actually the perfect moment to dive into the negatives. I really dislike the fact that Ford constructed the car with FWD and not RWD. But on the other side, this fact makes the Probe easily affordable. Then we have the engine, the problem isn’t the 163 horsepower, rather than it’s mounted transversely. This makes working on it way harder. Just accessing the timing belt…
Also, this car isn’t that great for tuning because there are not that many aftermarket parts available, but this is a Germany exclusive problem. In the States, there are enough cool tuning parts.
[tgp] How did you end up owning a modified Ford Probe in Germany? How rare are they?
[Chris] Well my very first car by accident was a Probe. I googled for pictures of nice pop-up headlight coupes from the 90s and then I saw this beauty. From that moment I was hooked. Stunning looks and a great, powerful (for a first car) engine.
My first Probe was a bad running rust bucket, which I sold to a dude in the Czech Republic after only one year owning it. But then I found this purple (Boysenberry Blue) Probe 200km from home, listed as not running on eBay. So I went there with a close friend of mine who was luckily a hobby mechanic and bought it for cheap. After a few weeks in the workshop, it was running again, and immediately street registered. Then I drove it for a year with minor tweaks here and there and started tuning it this summer.
Ford Probes themselves are really rare. Especially the well maintained or tastefully tuned ones. Once a year there is a Probe fan meeting in Osterode (Ford Probe Treffen) where you can spot like up to 50 Probes at once but that’s it, as far as I’m concerned. In a radius of 35+ km around my hometown, I know only one other prober. So you could say pretty rare.
[tgp] My understanding is that it can be tricky (expensive) to own a modified vehicle in Germany. Can you tell us about what you’ve had to do to modify your Probe?
[Chris] My car is quite clean. Not too much to it, but it’s just about right for the Probe. First, I modified it by bolting on a few US market extra options that I wanted to have. That would be the armrest between the front seats and the all-red taillights (both getting more and more rare and expensive). Then I added the trunk door from a scrapyard-ready Probe to my car and got the OEM spoiler, third brake light already mounted, and the rear wiper was already cleaned. There was also an aftermarket roof spoiler extra on it.
Next, I bought a few new parts. A D2 suspension set, Japan Racing JR11 wheels, Toyo Proxes Sports, a Magnaflow exhaust, and front and rear [strut tower] braces. I installed them and went to the TÜV and did the paperwork for driving this setup legally.
[ Editor’s note: TÜV is kind of like ISO. They confirm parts are made correctly. ]
And yes it can be tricky and expensive to tune your car in Germany, but if you know the right people and invest too much it’s possible. The Probe just isn’t the best car for it over here. There just aren’t that many aftermarket parts, and if you find some, they are not legal or really hard to get street legal because you need proof marks and/or certificates for everything here. And then you have to pay the people at TÜV to record these mods in your car documents if that is even possible (different from case to case and part to part).
The Ford community…
[tgp] How’s the Ford community doing these days (in Germany)? Where do y’all hangout, share tech, and whatnot?
[Chris] Wel,l I am quite new to the whole car culture thing over here. I met a few Probe drivers here and there and made new friends and/or connections through Facebook or Instagram and learned a bunch of stuff about my car.
2020 was the first year I went to the Probe meeting in Osterode. Before that, there wasn’t much time or money to do things like that. So I guess the Probes are getting more and more scarce with every year, but there are a few hardcore fans and newcomers left that keep the whole community up.
For Ford in general, I don’t know. I think they are growing, especially on the Focus ST and RS side. And due to the fact that the new Mustang is cheap as hell, you see them around too often. Mostly driven by non-enthusiasts.
This gearhead life…
[tgp] When you think about automotive culture in general, what stands out as being the biggest issue we should be working on together? What’s your biggest concern and what should we be doing about it?
[Chris] I just dislike the hooligans, haters, and wannabe racers/”cool” kids in this community. Sure, I also rev my engine a few times to hear the exhaust—but not in the middle of the night. And from time to time I drive a bit faster than legal, but I am not so stupid to race another person in the streets, thereby endangering normal people on the sidewalk.
Just be a bit more adult and respect the machine you’re driving. If you want to be loud do it in the countryside. If you want to race, go to the Nürburgring. And don’t hate others’ builds just because it’s not right up your alley. I, for example, don’t really like lowriders, but if one parked next to me, I wouldn’t hate on it. I would rather respect the build and the diversity in car culture. I also like Itashas and I bet 80% of you won’t. Just let it be.
[tgp] Who’s made the biggest difference in your life with cars? How so?
[Chris] Probably my best mate Philipp (Insta @philipp.mx5). He’s the one who turned me from a “Golden Lambo best car, Autobahn is life”-type person (no hate just old me) to a JDM-loving tuner who is willing to learn and deep dive into cars and the culture behind them.
Then we have Filip (Insta @pandemprobegt) who was the inspiration for my build and the guy who made me want to tune the Probe instead of leaving it stock.
Also, I want to mention a good mate who is always willing to do a few photo sessions of my cars. I am talking about Noah (Insta @hahn_noah).
Almost a pony car
The Ford Probe is rare by any standards, but it’s especially so in Germany. Borne out of an Italian sketch and concept car from the late 1970s, built in Michigan, with FWD, Japanese underpinnings, it was the next generation Mustang nobody wanted. And yet, you look at this one and can’t help but think, “It’s an amazing machine.” Vielen Dank to Chris Breuer for sharing it with us.
Would you like to know more?
You can find Chris on Instagram: @t22.chris (He also has an Evo VIII.)
- Ford Probe Treffen
- Hagerty: Mustangs That Never Were
- Wikipedia: Ford Probe
- Wikipedia: Ford-Mazda Partnership
- Wikipedia: Itasha
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