The Ford Country Squire is what most people remember as the traditional station wagon. A true family vehicle, the Country Squire was produced by Ford from 1950 through 1991. It featured the ever present imitation wood panel. This feature earned it the nickname, “Woody” among the surfing subculture of Los Angeles in the 1960′s.
The Country Squire station wagon could carry 9 passengers with its side facing seats in the cargo area. These seats could be folded down to utilize more cargo space in the rear. It was considered the epitomy of the American family car in the sixties and seventies.
In the eighties the demand for the full size station wagon was declining so Ford decided a redesign was necessary to make the vehicle fore attractive. Instead of spending the money necessary for a restyled wagon, Ford began steering customers to it’s new Ford Aerostar minivan. Because of the mixed results to this campaign Ford re-introduced the Ford Freestyle with third row seating without the wood sides.
The Ford Country Squire is unique in that it utilized the same basic engine throughout it’s history, the 5.0 L V8. It also holds the distinction of being the oldest vehicle to only as an automatic. It utilized the four speed automatic transmission from its inception in 1950 until production ceased in 1991.
Produced by Ford from late 1994 through 2000, the Ford Contour is a passenger car offered in the North American market only. The Contour was offered only in the four door sedan body style that included three trim packages. The GL was considered the base model, while the LX was designed as a more luxury minded vehicle. The SE trim model rounded out the three ans was intended as the sporty sedan version of the body style.
Ford considered the development of the Contour along with the Mercury Mystique and its European cousin the Mondeo, major project and invested more than five million dollars in the deveopment of the CDW27 platform. Although only one body style was offered for the Contour It did include several different engine options. The sport model, the SE, was offered with both a 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder engine and the 2.5 Liter V6 engine.
In 1998, Ford redesigned the Contour and the Contour SVT was the result. Included with the SVT was a 2.5 Liter V6 that produced 195 horsepower and was offered with a five speed manual transmission, new body work, seats and trim, white faced gauges, larger wheels with ultra high performance tires, upgraded brakes and a retuned suspension.
The Contour SVT was only available by special order from specially designated Ford dealerships. And the SVT trim was named the most wanted sedan under $25,000 in 1999 by Edmunds.com. It was also named to the Ten Best list by Car and Driver magazine for 1995, 1996 and 1997.
First introduced in in 1961, the Ford Club Wagon is a line of both cargo and passenger vans from Ford. This Van line is based of the F-Series line of pickup trucks and is built on the same truck platform.
Also known to many as the Econoline, Ford has changed the name of the van and now markets it under the name Ford E-Series. For a short period of time, the E-Series is the only van produced by the company. However this will only last for a brief while as Ford prepares to introduce it’s newest minivan to the market in 2010.
When the Ford E-Serieswas first introduced it was designed with the engine placed between and behind the front seats, giving it the classic flat nose look. It was originally based on the Ford Falcon and was designed to compete with the Chevrolet Sportvan and Volkswagen Type2. It was an immediate success and currently still holds 79% of the United States cargo van market. Many utility companies such as Bellsouth and various regional power companies began using the Ford Vans for their utility trucks and this still continues today.
The very first vans were given a 144 cid 6 cylinder enginewith a manual 3 speed transmission. In 1968, Ford changed the van design forever with the innovative idea of moving the engine to the front of the vehicle with a small hood. These vans were the front runners of the still popular C-class motorhomes, which is still dominated by Ford today.
The Ford Bronco II was designed specifically to compete with Chevrolet’s S10 Blazer and Toyota’s 4Runner. The first sub compact SUV released by Ford since the inception of the original Bronco, Ford designed the Bronco II on the Ranger platform and is identical to the Ford Ranger. The only differences between the two are the Bronco II’s 94 inch wheel base and enclosed rear. Most of the parts for both vehicles are interchangeable.
The Bronco II was first offered with a Cologne 2.8 Liter engine which is the same one used in the Ford Ranger the first two years of its production as well.
The 1986 version of the Bronco II would include a fuel injected Cologne 2.9 Liter V6 engine. Problems with the cylinder head soon emerged leading to internal coolant leaks between the valve springs or at the base of the rocker shafts. Although improvements to the head castings were made in late 1989, these new heads were never installed on the Bronco II. Ford decided to end production of the Bronco II and replace it with the Explorer.
Despite the problems associated with the early engines, Bronco II enthusiast still actively seek this out as they tend to be ideal off road vehicles. An inexpensive, solid, compact SUV, the similiarities shared with the Ranger make it ideal for swapping parts. Many popular engine change outs such as with a Ford Windsor engine, are no problem with Bronco II.
The Ford Bronco was the concept vehicle first introduced by Donald N Frey in order to compete with the Jeep CJ-5 and International’s Harvester Scout. Frey was also responsible for the conception of the Mustang and his friend Lee Iacocca, who would one day head up Chrylser, would push both Bronco and the Mustang through to production.
The early Bronco was always intended to be used primarily as an off road vehicle and the frame suspension and body style made it perfect for this use. What it wasn’t designed for was towing, which would be remedied in later generation redesigns.
The Bronco enjoyed a long life span, considering it was one of the first true SUV’s on the market. Production began in 1966 and would last until 1996 with the first major redesign introduced in 1978.
The full-size Bronco was introduced in 1978, thus divided the life span of the original Bronco into two categories, the early Broncos (1966-1977) and, of course, the full-size Bronco(1978-1996).
An interesting side note on the classic Bronco is that very few 2 wheel drives Broncos were ever made and the ones that were produced were only made for sale outside the United States.
The Bronco was made infamous and forever recognizable in 1994, when the news media filmed O.J. Simpson, who was wanted for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, for several hours trying to elude the Los Angeles Police Department in a low speed chase on Interstate 405. The White 1993 Bronco was owned by the driver and friend of Simpson, Al cowlings.
The Ford Aspire was the product of a joint venture between Ford, Kia and Mazda during the 1990′s. Introduced in 1994, the Aspire was classed as a subcompact vehicle which was assembled in South Korea for sale in both the United States and Canada. While the vehicle was assembled in South Korea, the parts were manufactured by Mazda of Japan. The Ford Aspire was also marketed in Asia under the Kia marque and sold as the Kia Avella in Asia and the Ford Festiva in Japan and Australia.
The front-drive Aspire used a 63-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, with 5-speed manual shift or optional 3-speed automatic transmission. Automatic was optional only on base-model Aspires, and available power steering could be installed only on base-model 4-doors.
Although an entry level vehicle, the Aspire was the first car in its class to have standard dual air bags and otional four-wheel Anti-lock brakes.
The Aspire was available as a three-door or five-door hatchback, both came in base-level trim, and the 2-door could be ordered in upscale SE guise, adding fog lamps, a rear spoiler, and different seats and interior trim.
The Aspire was only produced from 1994 to 1997 and was replaced by the Kia Rio in the Kia line up. Ford has yet to replace the Aspire in its line up, although a plan is in the works to introduce the Ford Fiesta in 2010 as its replacement.
The public got its first look at the Ford Aerostar in the summer of 1985. Ford’s first minivan was slightly different than other minivans on the market. It was given a rear wheel drive like a truck. While this did decrease the interior space;it increased the minivan’s towing capacity and provided greater stabilization when loaded.
The Aerostar was offered with a 2.3 liter engine however this was underpowered and the upgrade for this was the 2.8 Liter Cologne and the new 3.0 Liter V6 for the 1987 model.
Parts were easy to come by since the Aerostar used truck parts. Any Ford Ranger, Bronco II or Explorer parts were interchangeable with the Aerostar and many owners chose to upgrade to 16 inch wheels from the Ranger or Explorer.
The Aerostar offered many firsts that left competitors scrambling to keep up. One of the first innovative designs Ford came up with was including all wheel drive for the 1990 model. Another was to offer an upscale version of it’s base and midline models. The Eddie Bauer Aerostar was introduced in 1988. Chrysler offered no competition until 2 years later when they introduced the Town and Country.
At the time of Aerostars introduction in 1986, the only other 4 door model SUV on the market was AMC’s Jeep Cherokee. With the introduction of several other SUV’s following in the early nineties, the minivan’s popularity was slipping and it would soon lose it’s place as the must have family vehicle. The Explorer’s 1991 introduction would soon displace the Aerostar in sales and eventually the Aerostar line was dropped in 1997.
The Chevrolet Venture was a minivan produced from 1997 to 2005. The Venture was replaced by the Chevrolet Uplander in 2005.
In 1996, the Chevy Venture was introduced as a replacement for the Chevrolet Lumina APV. The Venture had a 3.4L V6 engine and all Ventures were offered with automatic transmissions only. A Warner Brothers edition was also offered from 2001 to 2005 and featured a DVD entertainment center. The Warner Brothers Edition also had a Bugs Bunny leaning against the Warner Brothers Logo.
The 1997 Chevy Venture received a rating of four stars out five in a head on collision from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and test on subsequent model years yielded 4 stars in most categories.
The Venture has also been marketed in Europe under the name Opel Sintra and in the United Kingdom as a Vauxhall. Chevrolet Europe sold a few models, mostly United States dometic market models which had been modified to European specification. Among them were the Chevrolet Trans Sport which was a cross bodywise between a Chevrolet Venture and a Pontiac Trans Sport.
Both the Chevrolet Venture and the Chevrolet Astro were replaced by the similar new 2005 Chevrolet Uplander. The Chevrolet Venture was manufactured in at the assembly plant in Doraville, GA.
The minivan introduced to replace the Venture and Astro is the Chevrolet Uplander. Brought in for the 2005 model year, the minivan is assembled in Doraville, GA. General Motors has announced that it will close the assembly plant in late 2008. No plans have been released as to where the Uplander will now be built.
The Chevy Uplander is built heavily on its predecessor, the Venture and is one of the first crossovers between the minivan and suv. The Uplander offers an integrated child seat and is made in two wheelbases and a cargo version. and sales for between $21,250 and $33,795 in the United States market.
The van is sold in 4 other markets besides the United States which include Canada, Chile, Mexico and the Middle East. It has been offered with a 3.5 Liter V6 engine. For 2006, a larger engine was added, the 3.9 Liter V6 engine and in 2007 the 3.5 Liter was dropped altogether.
General Motors did not intend to end production of the Chevy Uplander so abruptly however when General Motors decided to close the assembly plant where it was built, the decision was made to continue producduction in Canada and Mexico for the 2009 model year. The last vehicle produced was a Canadian version of a 2009 Pontiac Montana SV6 short-wheel base.
The Chevrolet Trailblazer was introduced in 1999 and was intended as an upscale trimline of the Chevrolet Blazer. The TrailBlazer is based on a truck platform and all models came with an optional four wheel drive package with the traditional 4 high and 4 low gearings. Originally the two door models were the only type offered at dealerships while the four door models were reserved only for fleet sales. This changed in 2005 when both the two door and four door models were finally made available to the general population.
The 4.2 Liter I6 engine was awarded best engine at the 2002 North American Car show. The Trailblazer also took Truck of the Year at the same show.
The Trailblazer facade was streamlined for the 2006 model year and given a more aerodynamic look. It also received an upgrade to its trim and the front and rear fascias were updated as well. The Trailblazer SS received a trim specific from and rear fascias plus color matched side skirts.
The Super Sport medel TrailBlazer came standard with a 6.0 Liter engine which is the same engine that comes standard in the 2005-2006 Pontiac GT.
The Trailblazer and the Uplander will be replaced by the Chevrolet Traverse and General Motors closed the Moraine plant on December 23, 2008 where the Trailblazer was built.
The Geo Tracker was produced through a joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki which produced the Suzuki SideKick. Built for the North American market in Ingersoll, Cananda along with the Sidekick, some were imported from Japan due to a delay at the Canadian factory.
Originally the Chevrolet Tracker was produced exclusively for the Canadian market however in 1992 the Geo name was brought to Canada and all Trackers were now Geo Trackers.
Suzuki began importing four door Sidekicks from Japan in 1991. These were powered by a sixteen valve 1.6 Liter engine. In 1996, the Ingersoll, Canada plant began assembling the four door trackers also and the Geo and Suzuki models were rebadged and all North American models became Chevrolet Trackers once again.
The Tracker was intended to be a rugged light mini suv and a comfortable passenger vehicle at the same time. It was given a light truck engine and transmission coupled with an off road four wheel drive package. The Tracker was given strong front suspension with a tough recirculating ball steering box and a front differential mounted ahead of the engine made the vehicle sturdy enough for off road use. The U jointed drive shafts and the rear axle that was a light truck unit on coil springs gave the Tracker a truck like ride that could withstand harsh off road usage.
The Tracker was replaced by the 4 cylinder Chevrolet Sport Captiva and the Saturn Vue in the summer of 2008 after a rapid decline in sales. Many believe the sudden disinterest by the public was caused when General Motors replaced the rugged steering box with lightweight rack and Pinon steering which is much more easily damaged and more expensive to repair, eliminating the ability to use the vehicle for the very thing that had made it so popular.
The Chevy Tahoe was introduced in 1994 as the rebadged full sized Chevy Blazer. In 1995, the Tahoe received an overhaul and was reintroduced with a 4 door version.
The Tahoe/Yukons were based on the Suburban and shared the GMT400 platform but were shorter in length than the Suburban. Built on a true truck chassis, the Tahoe is based on the full size pickup truck, the Silverado. Both two-door and four-door models were produced as well as rear wheel and four wheel drive. Autotrac and Onstar were added as options in 1998.
A Chevrolet Tahoe Limited Edition was introduced in the year 2000 but was only produced for one year. Two new engines were also offered for the 2000 model year. One was the 4.8 Liter Vortec small block V8. Although smaller the the 5.7 Liter it replaced, it produced more power.
To promote the Tahoe in 2007, the suv was featured on The Apprentice. A contest was held that allowed entrants to put together their own commercial for the New Tahoe.
The Chevrolet Hybrid Tahoe made its debut in fall of 2007 with a base package price of around $50,000. The hybrid uses a 6.0 liter v8 engine and two electric motors that charge a 300-volt nickel-metal hydride battery and the vehicle can run either on gasoline alone, battery alone or a combination of the two. The starting price for the 2009 model has increased to $51,405 for the base package.