Ford Scorpio

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Ford Scorpio
Ford Scorpio Limousine
ManufacturerFord Motor Company
PredecessorFord Granada
ClassExecutive car
Body style(s)4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
5-door station wagon
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)1.8 L 4cyl SOHC
2.0 L 4cyl SOHC
2.0 L 4cyl DOHC
2.4 L 12v V6
2.8 L 12v V6
2.9 L 12v V6
2.9 24v Cosworth V6
RelatedFord Sierra
ManualsService Manual

The Ford Scorpio was an executive car produced by the Ford Motor Company at its factory in Cologne, Germany between 1985 and 1998. Known within Ford by its codename DE-1, it replaced the Ford Granada. Although the car was still badged Granada in the United Kingdom, the Scorpio badge only was used on the top-of-the range versions (hence the Granada Scorpio) until 1994, when it was replaced by a revised car which was known universally as the Scorpio. It was awarded the accolade of European Car of the Year for 1986.

Mark I (1985–94)

Engineering-wise, the Scorpio was heavily based on the Sierra, sitting on a stretched version of its floorpan, and using a similar styling philosophy set by both the Sierra and the third generation Escort. Under the bonnet were well-proven engines, starting with the venerable Pinto engine unit in 1.8 L and 2.0 L capacities, as well as the V6 Cologne engine in 2.4 L, 2.8 L, and later 2.9 L displacements. By 1989, both the Pinto engines had been dropped, with an 8-valve DOHC engine replacing the 2.0 L model.

The Scorpio was intended to maintain Ford's position in Europe as the principal alternative to a Mercedes or BMW for those looking to own an executive car. To this end Ford built on the already extensive specification available on the outgoing MkII Granada (which for the period, was available with some very special equipment such as leather heated electrically adjustable seats, air conditioning, electric sunroof, trip computer etc) by adding some very fresh technology for the mass market. Improvements available included; heated windscreen, Cruise Control and all wheel drive which all made their first appearance on a European Ford. The car was very comfortable (slightly let down by seats without good back support) and had excellent rear legroom, but surprisingly little lateral headroom. The biggest advance of the Scorpio was that it was the first mass-market European car to have anti-lock braking system standard across the whole range.

Unlike the Granada, it was initially only available as a hatchback, and not as a saloon or estate. This proved to be a mistake for Ford, which later introduced a saloon version in 1990, and the estate appeared two years later. There were few engineering changes over the years, notably the introduction of the DOHC engines in 1989, and the Scorpio Cosworth with a 2.9 L 24-valve Cosworth V6 the following year. The Cosworth Engine has become a choice upgrade for many Ford Sierra owners with many Granadas being broken up to provide these power plants, it's a cheap and easy way to obtain 200+ BHP. Some Of these engines have also been turbocharged and versions of the engine ( FBE ) were also used in motorsport.

The Cosworth was both large and fast, which consequently gave it heavy fuel consumption. Many owners often commented at the fact that 25 miles per gallon was about as much as you could get out of a car with this engine. Prop-shaft deterioration over time was also considered to be a problem on early Mark I Cosworths.

Mark II (1994–98)

Ford Scorpio Mk II 2.9 V6 Ultima

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 Sniff Petrol author Richard Porter's 2004 book Crap Cars the Scorpio Mark II was listed as number 49 (of 50) on looks alone.

On the DVD special Clarkson: Heaven and Hell, Clarkson set up a jousting contest between a Scorpio 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.

Despite the car's appearance, sales of the Scorpio Mark II remained healthy, ostensibly on the strength of the high standard equipment levels.

Trim levels

The Scorpio Mark II was available in the following levels of trim (each one being available as a saloon or an estate and with any engine). Regardless of the trim level, any car with a 2.9 Cosworth engine was fitted with traction control, cruise control and an automatic gearbox as standard (although manual could be specified as a no cost option). All other engines were fitted with a manual gearbox with an automatic available as a cost option.

  • Executive - The base model, although even this had a high level of specification including electric windows, ABS, PAS as well as an alarm and immobiliser.
  • Ghia - This level added air conditioning, alloy wheels, front fog lights and electric mirrors as well as a variety of minor additions.
  • Ultima - The highest level added a CD autochanger, climate control, leather seats, cruise control and an automatically dimming mirror, and electrically operated seats as well as a variety of other minor improvements.

The Executive was discontinued in 1997 and the Ghia became the base model, but another model known as the Ghia X appeared in between this and the Ultima. The Ghia X had some of the Ultima additions (such as climate control) but not others (eg leather seats).

Unusually trim levels and engine sizes were not liveried on the backs of the cars. Rather the trim levels were liveried on the sides of the cars by the Scorpio badges on the rear window frames as such. The Executive had no badge, simply the word "Scorpio". Each other model had the model name under the badge, for example "Scorpio Ultima."

Engine sizes were also on the sides of the cars towards the front just above the auxiliary indicator lights as such:

  • 2.0 L - no badge (on older cars the 2 litre 8 valve had no badge but the 2 litre sixteen valve bore had the badge "2.0 16v")
  • 2.3 L - "2.3" (on older cars "2.3 16v")
  • 2.9 L - "2.9" (on older cars "2.9 12v")
  • 2.9 L - Cosworth "24v"

Unlike the Mark I Scorpio, the word "Cosworth" did not appear anywhere on the outside of cars fitted with such an engine (doubtless in attempt to reduce the likelihood of vehicle theft) although it is in evidence across the top of the engine.

With large numbers of these types of vehicles traditionally being sold into the company car market in the UK, their very low residual values (worth after 3 or 4 years use) impacted on the total cost of ownership to such a degree the premium, aspirational marques became no more expensive to run, especially on a Contract Hire or Leasing Agreement. As such, buyers gravitated toward models with more prestige such as those made by BMW and Lexus.

Merkur Scorpio

Merkur Scorpio

The Merkur Scorpio was a North American version of the European Scorpio Mk I (in the UK the Scorpio was called Granada, with Scorpio being the top of the range trim level for the 1985 Mk3 Granada model). The car was offered at select Lincoln-Mercury dealerships from 1988–1990.

The Merkur Scorpio was only offered with the Cologne 2.9L V6 engine with some detail differences from the contemporary Fords. Adapted to meet American emissions requirements, the Merkur version of the Scorpio produced 140 hp (100 kW) when introduced to the North American market in 1988. The vast majority were fitted with the A4LD 4-speed automatic transmission, and the rest received the T-9 5-speed manual transmission. Only automatic versions of the Scorpio were available in Canada. The car was marketed as an upscale, mid-size luxury car, but never achieved the market impact that the Ford Motor Company hoped for. The vehicle was also plagued by auto transmission troubles, electrical gremlins, and a wide range of reliability issues which hurt its luxury image with consumers. Ford dropped the Merkur nameplate altogether after 1989.

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