The late Nineties saw big American automakers GM and Ford focusing their attention and resources on SUVs and light trucks. Ford did this to such an extent that it almost neglected its passenger cars. However, when oil prices started shooting up a few years after the turn of the century, and truck sales started taking a hit, the Blue Oval suddenly found itself on the back foot.
Realising the need to bolster its passenger car line-up, Ford hurriedly announced a full-size saloon based on the Ford D3 platform, which in turn was derived from Volvo’s P2 architecture. In a nod to the Fairlane 500 and Galaxie 500 from the Sixties, the new car was called Ford Five Hundred, and was sort of intended as a replacement for the Crown Victoria.
Apart from the chassis, the Five Hundred also derived a host of technology features from Volvo, which meant it scored high in official safety tests. However, the designers had a tough time adapting Ford styling into the low-slung platform. This was quite obvious in the Five Hundred’s appearance, which was characterised by, er, its absolute lack of character. Slab-sided, utterly boring and soulless, the Five Hundred had the most unremarkable lines a car could ever have.
To add to its unfortunate looks, it was powered by a 203 horsepower 3.0-litre V6, which in the all-wheel drive version, was mated to a continuously variable transmission. While the powerplant was alright on its own, it was underpowered in this application, struggling to lug the relatively heavy 500 around. Also, there were reports about transmission failures and faulty seat heating that further took the sheen away from this car.
Sales were not great to begin with in 2005, and kept dipping drastically over the next two years, forcing Ford to shelve the badge in 2007, after just three years in production.