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Would You Rather, The Alternate Future Edition: Which FWD Pony Car Concept Appeals To You Most?


Would You Rather, The Alternate Future Edition: Which FWD Pony Car Concept Appeals To You Most?

We know how the pony cars managed to survive the 1980s: Ford managed to give the Mustang a desperately needed horsepower injection that really came into play in 1982, and over at GM, the third-generation F-body kept making leaps and bounds with engines and performance packages, especially the Camaro IROC-Z. But there is a catch: both of these cars came dangerously close to going front-wheel drive. The Mustang’s story is pretty well-known, but the F-car’s saga isn’t as popular. We found mockups of the potential sport coupes and we want to know which one you would have more interest in…if you were being forced to pick, because of course we’d walk away.

1. ST-20 based Mustang 

You probably know the story of the “ST-16” Mustang development: shortly after the Fox body Mustang arrived, a Jimmy Carter speech caused Ford execs to seriously consider a FWD Ford Mustang. Ford threw the whole budget at the car, and by the time running mules were tooling around Detroit, word got out, loyal fans went beserk and pelted Ford with angry letters, and the company instead gave the RWD Mustang a visual refresh and renamed the front-driver Probe. The above clay model is not the ST-16. That is the ST-20 design study…yes, folks, the Mustang almost went front-driver TWICE. Unlike the Probe, the ST-20 study utilized the Ford Escort/Mercury Tracer platform and was supposed to be smaller and more nimble. The last time Ford downsized the Mustang, we got the Mustang II. Luckily, the Fox platform was updated into the SN-95 platform and carried on long enough to get the Mustang away from wrong-wheel drive.

2. GM-80 concepts and mules

Like the Mustang, the GM twins almost made the conversion twice. The first time was towards the late 1970s…since the F-car’s cousin, the X-body (Nova and friends) had made the jump for 1980, there were elements within GM that thought that the F-body should follow. Things went quiet for a bit, then in the mid-1980s, swoopy front-drive prototypes started to float around. The plan, according to insiders, was a three-way attack: A Camaro, a Firebird and an Oldsmobile, which was to either be called the Touring Coupe or Silhouette. The body panels were made of composite plastic and the powertrains were probably early versions of the Quad 4 and the 3.4L V6, but rumor has it that every tester was shipped to Australia and flattened once the nearly $1 billion program was culled before damage could be done.

Two near-misses, one decision. Which one appeals to you more?


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9 thoughts on “Would You Rather, The Alternate Future Edition: Which FWD Pony Car Concept Appeals To You Most?

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    Front wheel drive is an abomination on a so-called muscle car and I for one am glad these things never saw the road. However a RWD-converted 302 powered Probe would be an awesome car!

    Reply
  2. john

    Every time I see a clay model of car all that comes to mind is grabbing a big hunk of clay from a fender and making Gumby figures…is that wrong? 🙂

    Reply
  3. Matt Cramer

    Usually the horrible dystophian futures at least came with awesome cars; this is just the opposite.

    I had a Probe GT, and it wasn’t a bad car, provided you don’t judge it by Mustang standards. They never really put anything with a lot of power in the Escort chassis; the most powerful one in the mid ’90s would have been the MX3 with the itty bitty 1.8 V6. I have seen larger V6s out of Probes and 626s transplanted into an Escort chassis – that would be interesting in a straight line, but might not be the best corner carver.

    I’m guessing the GM-80 concepts are based on an N body platform, making this basically a Grand Am wearing Trans Am badges. So given such bleak choices, I’d have to go for the Ford. At least my friends at Hong Norrth Racing have been having decent success road racing other cars on the platform (and they also ran an Achieva SCX at one point, finding it a lousy platform with a good motor).

    Reply
  4. Wes

    I had two Probes…a 3.0L V-6 and a Turbo-4. Great little cars on their own for a college kid in his early 20’s. Bracket raced the GT (which was Calypso Green Clear Coat Metallic) a bit. The Mustang was actually going to be the Mazda MX-6 version of the Probe before the purist backlash.

    Never liked Camaros/Firebirds once they got all plasticky in the mid-70’s and these two samples above verify my distaste. Gotta go with Ford as the lesser of two evils.

    Reply
  5. Dutch

    That ST-20 “Mustang” is a good looking car!!!
    Kinda GM-ish…
    Peel the pony out of the grille, and it could pass for Pontiac styling.

    Reply

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