Friday, October 5, 2012
Minivan of The Day: October 5, 2012
Today's car of the day is Hot Wheels' Ford Aerostar.
The Ford Aerostar is a minivan produced by Ford Motor Company for the North American market; the first such design by Ford, it was sold from the 1986 to the 1997 model years. It was sold in both passenger van and cargo van configurations in two body lengths with both rear wheel drive and all wheel drive configurations. The Aerostar was sold only under the Ford brand; the first minivan sold by the Lincoln-Mercury division was the 1993 Mercury Villager. Production was ended after the 1997 model year after its replacement by the Windstar in the 1995 model year; both product lines were sold from 1995-1997. The role of the Aerostar cargo van was left unfilled until the 2010 introduction of the Transit Connect.
The aerodynamic styling (.37 coefficient of drag) resembled the Ford Taurus introduced alongside it for 1986. An early commercial ad campaign compared the side profile of the Aerostar to that of the NASA Space Shuttle. For much of its later life, the Aerostar would be marketed as part of Ford's light-truck lineup.
The first-generation Aerostar was introduced in July 1985 as a 1986 model. Originally unveiled in concept form in 1984, the body of the production version differed little from the concept except for detail changes to the grille and headlights. While the Aerostar was originally planned to use an optional diesel engine, this option was cancelled after the release of the concept.
Ford engineers chose the front-engine layout for the Aerostar for a variety of reasons. Ford found buyers of vans preferred the engine placement in front in terms of safety and engine access (in comparison to German and Japanese imports). In contrast to Chrysler, Ford used a rear-wheel drive layout with the Aerostar; this provided it with the same 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) tow rating as the GM minivans, 2½ times the capacity of the Chrysler vans. During its development, Ford chose to use a number of lightweight materials in its body design; the Aerostar used plastic bumpers, fuel tank, rear door and hood with the addition of aluminum drive shafts, axles and wheels. Although the Aerostar was designed from a dedicated platform (a first for an American minivan), many of its components were borrowed from the Ford light-truck lineup (from the Ranger/Bronco II). One major exception was the rear suspension, a 3-link coil spring suspension with a live rear axle; it was designed specifically for the Aerostar and was unique among American-market minivans of the time.
At its launch in 1985, the Aerostar was available in a single body length as a cargo van (Aerostar Van) and a 7-passenger van (Aerostar Wagon). The standard engine was a 2.3 L four-cylinder sourced from the Fox platform while the 2.8 L Cologne V6 sourced from the Ranger was an option; a diesel engine was cancelled during the development phase. A 5-speed manual transmission (Mazda TK5) was standard with an optional 4-speed automatic (Ford A4LD). The exterior and interior featured several notable design quirks. The Aerostar was one of the few American minivans ever to feature a handbrake in between the front seats; this was a feature retained by both of its successors and the current Transit Connect. Another quirk in early Aerostars is that while cupholders were an option only for the third-row seats, it could be ordered with up to six ashtrays and two cigar lighters; the interior may have been designed with a smoker in mind. Unlike other American minivans of the time, the 2nd-row windows on the Aerostar slid open, in a way similar to the Volkswagen Vanagon. Like Chrysler's minivans, the Aerostar was exported to Europe in small numbers, which is why the rear license surround is sized to accommodate European number plates in addition to American ones.
For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: Ford Aerostar
I'm not exactly sure what the stain is on the front bumper. I didn't notice it until reviewing the photographs. I'll have to try cleaning it off... Anyways, this casting started life as a Flip-Outs model and eventually made its way to the Mainline. I believe this particular example was a promo, however.
The cargo version of the Aerostar did not sell as well as the wagon, as the Aerostar's in-between size worked against it in comparison to the GM Astro/Safari twins. Aside from the lack of windows and trimmed interior, Aerostar cargo vans differed little from Aerostar wagons. One externally visible difference was the use of rear double doors instead of a hatch. On these, the license-plate opening was American-sized instead of the wagon's European-sized one (the cargo van was not exported). The Aerostar Van did not catch on as a base for conversion vans either.
The Van was sold with any available engine and came in both standard and extended lengths.