The beauty of the sport compact scene is that any dream, even one others may label a nightmare, can come to fruition. Chris McGehee of Bakersfield, Calif., has been a Ford man since birth.
"My Dad worked for Ford his whole life. So the Blue Oval has been in my blood ever since I can remember," says Chris. "In fact, we [he and his wife] got this Probe as a special order with 6 miles on the clock."
The Ford Probe is one of the unsung heroes of the performance motoring world. Built in a Mazda plant in Illinois, the model was manufactured in limited numbers. With its six cylinders up front and a lowered stance, few have seen the need to modify this rare bird. Thus, the Probe rates a zero on the 1-to-10 scale of go-fast parts availability.
At the time, Chris was heavily involved in car-stereo competitions, so he immediately turned his Probe into a thumping bass-mobile. The car shook pavement around the state for three years until Chris got bored. One day, as his ear drums were recovering, Chris picked up a set of plug wires from a shop called Gen X Motorsport. The owners offered to hook Chris up with some high performance if they could use the car as a demo. The road to high-quality show "cardom" and stardom was set upon and no return ticket was in sight.
Recently, Chris, with his wife's permission (who also owns a Probe), decided to kick the effort into high gear. First off, the Probe went to the paint shop to receive numerous coats of brandywine Kandy paint over the jams, body, engine bay, and the Sinsei body kit, which includes the front and rear bumpers plus the side skirts. On top of the hatch rests an APR GTC-200 carbon-fiber spoiler.
Step two saw the painted Probe in the interior shop. After a month, it exited the doors of Carcraft Interiors with a fully wrapped, two-tone, Doe-skin-and-perforated-light-mocha interior. Amidst this oasis of white and burgundy sits a Grant Corsa-D steering wheel and a Speedhut aluminium gauge surround. With one foot on the right Sparco pedal, Chris drove straight to the stereo shop with the worst of intentions.
The worst of intentions means plenty of amplitude, starting with the two crossfire BMF12 12-inch subs along with a custom EQ designed to raise or fall back flush with the boot at the switch of a button. Not even Battlestar Galactica ships had gadgets like this! The entire installation took six months.
Chris then focused on other mods. Rims are a whopping (although now almost standard nowadays) 19x8 inches. The RO_JA Motegi Kruzz aluminum has been wrapped with BFGoodrich Scorcher T/A Black 235/35-19 performance rubber. Dropping the chassis down on said wheel/tire combo is a Ground Control coil-over kit and Tokico Illumina adjustable gas struts.
With the spotless interior, gnarly stance and impeccable paint, the space under hood would probably hold a stock motor with chrome bits and a hose kit. Think again! The heart of this Ford beats to the sound of a Mazda jingle. The original 2.5-liter V6 was swapped out for a J-spec Mazda KLZE V6 that displaces 2.5 liters, but features a longer intake runner setup and upgraded internals. The installation was a simple drop and swap, with the exception of a few vacuum hoses.
The J-spec powerplant was further enhanced with boost provided by a supercharger. A hard-hitting Nitrous Express nitrous system is planned once a full-throttle lean condition is addressed. While the installation of the motor was straightforward, the supercharger placement was anything but. Phil at DPG Performance was given the daunting task of locating the Vortech V-1 S-trim supercharger, and found space where the A/C motor previously resided.
After much discussion and a lot of denial from DPG, they decided to take on the project, which included fabricating the bracket for the blower, fabricating oil lines, relocating the radiator, tweaking the oil pan to accommodate oil lines and notching the frame.
DPG used an old motor as a simulation dummy to fabricate a blower mounting bracket. AFter three days of fabrication and about 20 dedicated hours, the bracket and housing was finished. Fitting the bracket to the blower and then the blower to the engine outside of the car was dramatically different than doing so inside the car.
First, the radiator had to be slightly relocated, requiring new brackets and mounting fixtures. This was needed to provide ample clearance for the blower housing. After reshaping some of the bracket and some trim work to the supercharger, it was fitted to the block in place of the A/C unit. Good alignment and precision fabrication made the pulleys line up perfectly with the stock pulleys.
Once fitment and installation were complete, custom steel braided lines for the oil feed and drain back were made and installed. Final fabrication included removing the stock oil pan and fitting a modified unit that included accommodations for the oil drain back and a slightly shortened height.
The system features a front-mount Power Enterprises intercooler fitted with a Nitrous Express N-tercooler spray bar kit. Tuning is achieved with a Vortech 10:1 FMU and A'PEXi S-AFC.
With an install as time-consuming as this, there's no doubt that Chris' Probe is poking into territories few have explored either aesthetically and mechanically. And, even though Chris is estimating 250 whp without the NOS hooked up, one can't help but wonder what his dear old Dad would think of the "rice burner lump" at the heart of this American hot rod.