Low EXPectations – 1988 Ford EXP

There are plenty of examples of interesting sports coupes based on ho-hum platforms – look at the Ford Capri, VW Scirocco, and Honda CRX to get an idea of great cars that shared a lot with their siblings. All were widely appreciated in their time, and are still today appreciated as young-timer collector cars. Unfortunately, some cars on ho-hum platforms can’t escape their roots – consider the mildly funky-looking but bland-driving Honda Prelude, for example. But Honda’s not the only one who managed to make that kind of transformation – Ford is also guilty. For a good example of how that happened, let’s take a look at this 1988 Ford EXP for sale for $2888 in Portland, OR.

1988 Ford EXP left rear

Those of you who were around in the 1980s will struggle with the fact that an EXP was so large it wouldn’t fit in a picture, but apparently it was. That issue notwithstanding, this looks to be a fairly nice example of a car that’s become quite rare, in spite of its six figure sales (though these disappointed Ford executives at a mere 225,000 total). Said to have just under 74,000 miles, it’s been upgraded with some decent looking wheels that don’t look too modern for a 1980s car.

1988 Ford EXP left front

With plenty of 1980s design cues, it’s actually not a bad-looking car, but its failure was attributed to its lack of performance. Ultimate cancellation came because Ford fans insisted on a rear-wheel-drive Mustang, which meant the already-developed front-wheel-drive “Mustang” (released as the Probe) took the EXP’s spot in Ford’s sports car lineup. Even the upgraded second-generation car did not bring the expected boost in sales, just as its EXP turbo predecessor.

1988 Ford EXP interior

What is visible of the grey interior looks pretty good, and with such low miles and its Pacific Northwest location, it’s likely the dash has minimal cracking, in spite of the dash mat. All amenities aside from the passenger window are said to work well, including air conditioning. Carpet and headliner are said to be new, and the paint has been “shined”, so along with scuffs here and there, you might figure on it fading back in a few months without regular care.

1988 Ford EXP engine

The car is said to have had a new timing belt at 46,000 miles and 4 new tires at 50,000, although no dates are given, so that may date to 1995, 2005 or later. The car is said to be a Sports Coupe, which is interesting because that model designation implies a 115hp fuel-injected version of the 1.9-liter four-cylinder. Paired with a 2400-lb. body, performance should actually be pretty respectable, at least in a straight line – it’s within 5hp of the earlier turbo coupe, and you won’t have to wait for the turbo to spool up. Evidently, some suspension parts (as well as engine parts from the UK 1.6) cross over, so you can squeeze some more performance out of it. Can you make this car into what it should have been?


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