Ford Scorpio

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Ford Scorpio
1997 Ford Scorpio 2.3 Ghia (13011471365).jpg
Manufacturer Ford Europe
Production 1985–1998
Assembly Cologne, Germany
Body and chassis
Class Executive car (E)
Predecessor Ford Granada

The Ford Scorpio is an executive car that was produced by Ford Europe from 1985 to 1998.[1] It was the replacement for the European Ford Granada line (although in the UK and Ireland the Scorpio was marketed under the Granada name until 1994). Like its predecessor, the Scorpio was targeted at the executive car market. A variant known as the Merkur Scorpio was sold briefly on the North American market during the late-1980s.

First generation (1985–1994)[edit]

First generation
Ford Scorpio front 20080414.jpg
Ford Scorpio Mk I Saloon
Also called Ford Granada
Merkur Scorpio
Production 1985–1994
Assembly Cologne, Germany
Designer Uwe Bahnsen
James Kelly
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
5-door estate
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive / four wheel drive
Platform Ford DE-1 platform
Transmission 5-speed Type 9 manual
5-speed MT-75 manual
4-speed A4LD automatic
Curb weight 1,380 kg (3,042 lb)
Ford Scorpio Mk I Hatchback (1985–1989)
Ford Scorpio Mk I Hatchback (1985–1989)

Codenamed DE-1 during its development (since it was intended to straddle the European D and E segments), 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 the summer of 1989 the Pinto engines had begun to be gradually replaced, 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. It was also launched more than a year ahead of new competitors from Rover and Vauxhall.[2] To this end Ford built on the already extensive specification available on the outgoing MkII Granada (which for the period, was very well equipped, with features such as leather heated electrically adjustable seats, air conditioning, electric sunroof and trip computer either standard or available as options) by adding some additional features unusual on a mass-market car. Improvements available included: heated windscreen, Cruise Control and, later all wheel drive. The most notable advance was the fitment of anti-lock braking system, the first time this feature had been made standard across the whole range on a mass-produced car. The car was widely praised as being very comfortable and spacious, particularly in respect of its rear legroom.

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 early 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 in December 1990.

The Cosworth was both large and fast, which consequently gave it poor 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 and II Cosworths.

In the UK and Ireland, following the initial market resistance towards the Sierra - something which had been attributed to its radical styling - Ford elected to keep the Granada name in those markets, making the Scorpio effectively a Mk III Granada. The "Scorpio" name was instead used as a trim designation rather than the model name, being positioned higher than Ford's traditional Ghia top of the range model. These models were marketed as "Granada Scorpio", but were badged simply as "Scorpio", with an elongated "Granada" underneath.

Merkur Scorpio[edit]

Main article: Merkur Scorpio

The Merkur Scorpio was a North American version of the European Scorpio Mk I. The car was offered at select LincolnMercury dealerships from 1988–1990.

Merkur Scorpio

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. Ford dropped the Merkur nameplate altogether after 1989.

Facelifted model[edit]

Facelifted Ford Scorpio Mk I Hatchback

The model was a facelifted Mark I with changed grille, headlights, rear lights, bonnet and dashboard. It went on sale in March 1992, at the same time that an estate model (first shown in London at the October 1991 British Motor Show) was added to the range. The outdated Peugeot XD3 diesel engine was also replaced by a more powerful unit from Italian VM Motori.

This facelift realigned the look of the Granada with the forthcoming Mondeo, and kept styling cues coherent across the model range.

Second generation (1994–1998)[edit]

Second generation
Ford Scorpio front 20080214.jpg
Ford Scorpio Mk II Saloon
Production 1994–1998
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door estate
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Platform Ford Panther platform
Engine Petrol:
2.0 L NSD 8V I4
2.0 L N3A 16V I4
2.3 L Y5A/Y5B 16V I4
2.9 L BRG 12V V-6
2.9 L BOB (Cosworth) 24V V-6
2.5 L SCD TD I4
Transmission 5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,770 mm (109.1 in)
Length 4,825 mm (190.0 in)
4,826 mm (190.0 in) (estate)
Width 1,760 mm (69.3 in)
Height 1,388 mm (54.6 in)
1,442 mm (56.8 in) (estate)
Curb weight 1,577 kg (3,477 lb)

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, with new design of headlights, grille and door handles. Unlike the previous generation Scorpio models, there was no five-door hatchback body style in this line-up.

Ford Scorpio Mk II Saloon

In addition, the "Granada" name, which had been retained in the UK and Ireland for the MkI Scorpio (AKA MkIII Granada) was finally dropped and the "Scorpio" name – already used elsewhere – was adopted.

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 grille were defended by some who felt that this made it look less like a minicab,[citation needed] but the public and press reaction to the design was largely negative.

Jeremy Clarkson wrote in The Times at the time that this car ended any argument as to which was the ugliest on the road.[citation needed] 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.".[3] 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 Germany, the satirical magazine Titanic noted the Scorpio's front's similarity to the facial features of politician Günter Verheugen, who would go on to become EU commissioner.[4]

In 1998, it was listed as the third worst N-registered car (August 1995-July 1996) to own in United Kingdom from a Top Gear survey of 120 cars.[5]

Facelifted Ford Scorpio Mk II Saloon

In early 1998 the Scorpio was facelifted, with darker headlight surrounds and a more subtle grille, 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.

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 was not directly replaced. This was not unusual at the time, with the market trending towards either high-spec large family cars for executives or towards multi-purpose vehicles for families. Also, at that time Ford's owning Jaguar and Volvo made the Scorpio unnecessary.[6]

The Dutch Royal Family used several Scorpios - some stretched ones, and all painted in Royal Blue. There is still a custom build Scorpio landaulet in the royal stables. After Ford ended the production, the Volvo S80 replaced the Ford models.

Trim levels and engines[edit]

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 (a manual gearbox could not be specified at all). All other engines could be fitted with either a manual or automatic transmission although, in practice, the vast majority of Scorpios were automatic.

  • 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.

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 (possibly in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of vehicle theft) although it is in evidence across the top of the engine. However, on the 1998 facelift, the Cosworth badge is clearly visible on the trunk lid.

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) affected 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. Buyers therefore gravitated toward models with more prestige such as those made by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Also, Ford acquired Jaguar in 1989 and Volvo Cars in 1998, whose lineups fielded vehicles in the market segment of the Scorpio.


  1. ^ "Ford Scorpio". Ford Scorpio. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ford Scorpio". Ford Scorpio. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Top Gear What Cars Not To Buy". BBC. 1997-04-10. Retrieved 2012-09-16. 
  4. ^ Referenced in "Erkenntnis und Interesse RÄTSEL Gehen Sie ins Netz", Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 30 March 2003, no. 13, p. 66,
  5. ^ "Skoda has last laugh". BBC News. 1998-04-10. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  6. ^ "Jaguar S Type 2002 Range Road Test". 2002-07-03. Retrieved 2014-01-24.