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The Ford Mustang of the future could have been a Mazda

Fri, 04 Apr 2014

It seems like enthusiasts are always trying to figure out what Mazda's cooking up. Today, we're curious about how the Japanese automaker will bring its sport-roadster experience to a partnership with Alfa Romeo. In the June 30, 1986 edition of Autoweek, it was whether Mazda and Ford were going to create some sort of pony car love child.

Crazy? Probably. "There are those inside the Ford Motor Company who would like to see the Mazda Mustang (MM) pictured here replace the present Mustang line," we told readers. "The man upstairs at Ford HQ, however, does not agreed." Despite sitting on the aging Fox platform, the Mustang of the mid-1980s was still seen as Ford's mid-priced performance leader; any Mazda-based sport car, it seems, was destined to play second fiddle, more or less, from the start.

Still, a lot was up in the air back in 1986. Our speculative rendering shows a simple, sleek two-door with a wedge-shaped front. It would have been built on the Mazda 626 platform and been driven by the 626's normally aspirated and turbocharged 2.0-liter fours, which would eventually be joined by a V6.

Of course, we all know how this worked out: The "Mazda Mustang" arrived as the Mazda 626-based, front-wheel drive Ford Probe, which debuted in 1989r. It was, in fact, powered by a pair of four-cylinders, one turbocharged and one non-turbo, though they were 2.2-liters, and a V6 did join the lineup in 1990. Even the rendering looked like the final product. The Probe lasted through 1997.

The Fox platform-based Mustang that would have been replaced by some hypothetical Mazda-derived car soldiered on until 2004. But everything is clearer in hindsight, and as the article reproduced below shows, a radical reinvention of a venerable nameplate like the Mustang's was never entirely off the table.

Autoweek discusses the possibility of a Mazda Mustang

Ford Mustang at 50

The Ford Mustang turns 50 years old during 2014; to celebrate the many lives of America's favorite pony car, we'll be posting selections from our archives. Check out our Mustang mini-site where you'll find news, road tests, sneak peeks and even classic Mustang ads from the pages of Autoweek. We'll also have all the latest news and photos surrounding the redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang as it rolls out, so stay tuned.

By Graham Kozak