FORD INTERCEPTOR – Strategy – Schmategy! Just Build The Sucker: Ford’s Spectacular Interceptor
- January 21, 2007
- Concept Cars, Ford
- Posted by vvRcomAdmin
- Comments Off on FORD INTERCEPTOR – Strategy – Schmategy! Just Build The Sucker: Ford’s Spectacular Interceptor
Some of the guys from Ford were almost apologizing for the company’s Interceptor 4-door sedan concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month. The usual proclamations that, “It’s just a concept” and “There are no plans for production at the moment,” could be heard at a most predictable interval. Others were reacting to GM’s own 4-door sedan concept the so-green-it’s-almost-sickening Chevy Volt with statements like “The Interceptor doesn’t reflect Ford’s commitment to the environment, it’s just a lark, the (Lincoln) MKR is better reflects or thinking about clean sedan.”
As strong advocates for high-performance 4-door sedans, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers agree that the Interceptor could be a slam dunk when it goes public. Now, if Ford would just make the decision, we could get the Company moving.
Build it and They Will Definitely Come
Perhaps. Perhaps not. But regardless it’s a lark that the beleaguered manufacturer should make every effort to get into production as soon as is possible. To be sure, there are a myriad of complications that would make producing the Interceptor tough. But history has shown that highly focused, edgy, difficult-to-sell (internally) projects tend to yield car and trucks that make a difference in the marketplace. And the idea of a Mustang-based 4-door goes-like-Hell sedan is focused like a Class-4 laser and a damned sight more edgy than a another innocuous mid-size se-bland.
Concept from the Past – Mercury MC4
The Interceptor is really the third in a line of hot 4-door concept cars Ford has teased the media and auto show-going public over the last several years. First was one of several stillborn attempts to “define the New Mercury.” Dubbed the MC4, the car was really a close-coupled coupe with rear-hinged doors in the back quarter panel. Think RX8.
Another Concept from the Past – the Ford 427
A couple of years later, Ford’s modern DEW98 platform that was then used for as the basis of both the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type was the stitched-up to make the Ford 427. A big rear-drive sedan chock-a-block with design cues that have been used to form the lion’s share of the nameplate’s 21st century design DNA (the three-bar grille and “squircles,” for example), the 427 was powered by a performance-tuned version of the company’s Triton V10 truck engine. Tweaked to spin out 450HP or so, the 427 was big, brash and imposing. But based on the indescribably expensive DEW98 platform the 427 didn’t have a snowball’s chance in the Sahara of making it to your local Ford dealer.
Mustang-Based Interceptor Should Have a Chance
But now the company has taken another shot at an adrenaline-packed sedan with the Interceptor. By starting with the cheap and cheerful Mustang platform, the intercept is the recipient of some pretty good underpinnings. Admittedly, this means the Interceptor is packing a solid axle in the rear. But as the Mustang team has shown, low-tech suspension doesn’t have to translate into a poor-handling blandmobile.
The powerplant of the Interceptor is a portent of things to come for the 2010 Mustang. Running on E85 ethanol the 5.0L SOHC 3-valve V8 is said to put out an even 400HP. Power is shuffled to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual from the Mustang GT parts bin. The GT coupe is also the source of the Interceptor’s solid rear axle and rear that is said to give the sedan a “more hard-core performance feel.”
Inside the car features lots of auto show eyewash. Things like head restraints that drop down from the roof along with audio and HVAC controls that are “stowable” never seem to get past the show circuit. The Interceptor’s 4-point belts are a cool touch that would be appreciated by serious performance junkies but not very well-received by the driving public. One part of the car’s restraint system will be making it into production Ford products in the next few year… inflatable seatbelts.
Ford Needs a Global Rear Wheel Drive Platform
It appears that Ford’s lack of a global rear-wheel-drive platform strategy is the major stumbling block to pushing the Interceptor into production. And, truth be told, Ford does have bigger fish to fry than an expressive, image enhancing rear-drive sedan, After all what can such a car do to enhance the image of a company? I mean, what did the 300 really do for Chrysler?
Which is exactly the point. Before the rear-wheel-drive 300 was introduced, Chrysler’s flagship 300M was another oversized front-drive mid-size sedan in a sea of such vehicles. Once the LX-platform 300 was introduced, each of the unconventionally proportioned, polarizingly styled 4-doors worked like a rolling billboard for the Chrysler brand. Ironically, Ford’s nicely tailored but anodyne Five Hundred went on sale not long after the 300. While the Chrysler was considered by the media to be an unqualified success, the Ford sedan was considered an also-ran to the fourth estate.
With the Interceptor, Ford can has a car that could be a payback for the pasting the Five Hundred took and hands of the enthusiast press. And, as they say, paybacks can be Hell.
Mustang-Based Interceptor Could Have Substantial Cost Advantages
With a base (sub-rental) 2.7L V6 300 carrying an MSRP of $24,555, a production version of a 4.0L V6 Mustang-based Interceptor could undercut the Chrysler sedan by a couple thousand dollar with ease. Move up to a V8 300C (base prices start at $35,200) and a walk-up for a comparable intercept looks like a $28,000 to $30,000 proposition.
But the Interceptor isn’t about 4.0L V6 competitors to versions of the 300 that nobody buys. It’s about a V8. A V8 making far more power than anybody needs in a 4-door sedan. Its the kind of car I want. I don’t care about the Interceptor’s potentially friendly E85 engine. Gasoline is good enough for me. But then, to paraphrase Dennis Leary, I’m the kind of guy likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder – “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?” I WANT high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay? I want to smoke Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green Jello all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to, okay, pal?”
And it’s time for somebody waaaay up the food-chain at Ford to feel the same way I do about the Interceptor and just build the sucker.