Saturday 9 January 2010
The second generation Scorpio was made available in saloon or estate styles only, and had largely the same floorpan as its predecessor as well as all of the same engines that were in use at the end of the first generation's run. Many suspension and handling improvements were made between the first and second generations (including self-levelling rear suspension on the estates). It was also radically re-styled both inside and outside.
Inside the car were new arm-chair style seats and improved interior quality, but outside the new look was controversial. The car sported bulbous headlights and its tail lights were arranged in a thin line just above the bumper. Unusually, Ford never released the name of the designer and maintain to this day that the car outsold its expected figures (although they never released what those figures actually were). The bulging headlights and wide grill were defended by some who felt that this made it look less like a minicab, but the public and press reaction to the design was largely negative.
The French took to calling it a grenouille triste (sad frog) and Jeremy Clarkson wrote in The Times at the time that this car ended any argument as to which was the ugliest on the road. In Richard Porter's 2004 book Crap Cars the Scorpio Mark II was listed as number 49 (of 50) on looks alone. Quentin Willson said in a 1997 Top Gear episode that the 'sad-eyed Scorpio is so heroically ugly, it was obviously designed by Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.' On the DVD special Clarkson: Heaven and Hell, Clarkson set up a jousting contest between a Scorpio - which he described as "a wide-mouthed frog" - and a Triumph TR7, eventually destroying both cars via head-on collision.
In early 1998 the Scorpio was facelifted, with darker headlight surrounds and a more subtle grille, in order to tone down the front end of the car. The rear lights were also revised to make the rear of the car less bulbous. This was to be the last development for the model, which finished production over the summer of 1998. Many Scorpios were still in stock at this point however, with at least two years elapsing between the end of production and the sale of the very last model.
Whether or not the car genuinely made Ford's sales expectations, the shifting European car market at the end of the 1990s meant that it has not, so far, been replaced. This was not unusual at the time, with trends towards either high-spec large family cars for executives or towards multi-purpose vehicles for families. Other manufacturers were doing the same, such as Vauxhall/Opel choosing not to replace the Omega and Honda ceasing Legend sales in Europe. Meanwhile the Rover 800 was also retired in 1999 in favour of the smaller Rover 75.
Some of the big executive cars (such as the Legend) have since been brought back, though Ford has not, as yet, announced any plans to make another Scorpio-sized car for the European market.
- engine: V6
- capacity: 2935 cc
- horsepower: 150 HP
- gearbox: 5+1
- top speed: 200 km/h