1996 Ford Scorpio 2.3 from Bulgaria


A beautiful and comfortable reliability nightmare


Most plastics (and there are a lot of them).

Wiring (electric nightmare).

Starter failure (wiring).

Coolant leak (radiator, thermostat, coolant container).

Thermostat/air intake body (placed in a plastic body, $600 for a piece of plastic).

Dashboard cover (replaced).

Clutch (normal and somewhat expensive).

General Comments:

I once saw a Ford Scorpio on the street and it stood out from the other cars. I loved the rounded headlights and the sleek tail. So a couple of months later I bought one second hand. It was not in the best condition, but I knew mechanics whom I could trust so I decided to revive it. I cannot say it was a poor decision because I knew what I was getting into. It had terrible financial consequences for me, but I did have pleasure with the car.

I will start with the cons because people should be warned about them (yes, I should have written this review years ago but I guess it applies to most Ford vehicles).

The worst thing about this car is that Ford decided to use plastics wherever possible. One would think, why not - they are cheap and easy to replace. Well, the reality is exactly the opposite. Ford priced them terribly high, as if you were buying Mercedes parts, without the reliability. I know because I've been enjoying a W210 for the last 4 years.

The car (the Scorpio) had been overheated when I bought it, the engine properly repaired. The damage had occurred because the wiring of the coolant temperature sensor had failed and the guy couldn't see it overheating. Of course, all plastics were leaking coolant. I tried having the radiator repaired, but it just kept breaking at other places. The hoses were also leaking. In the end the guy who bought the car from me had to deal with it.

The most frustrating part was that the body of the thermostat was made out of plastic. Normally, it cracked and started leaking water after all the years. The catch, however, is that it was one solid part with the air intake inlet. Soooo, when it cracked a bit more, the car got more air than it needed and started misfiring. The thing was made out of plastic and cost 600 dollars new. The used ones that I could find were also broken. I had it sealed like 3 times.

Not very fair of Ford to make a luxury car with cheap plastic parts, pricing them highly.

Speaking of low quality plastics, the car is an electrical nightmare because Ford used cheap wiring materials and they all crack with age. I had the luck of having a retired electrical engineer working on my car. For example, the starter stopped working due to a broken wire. It was extremely hard to locate and take it out without disassembling half of the car, so the guy did an electrical bypass and fixed it.

The dashboard cover is also made out of some cheap material and, well, it is hard to find a car with a dashboard which is not damaged. I found one in good condition from another car and had it replaced.

The plastic cover under the engine is held by plastic clips which, of course, broke so I had to fixate it with pigtails. In comparison, the cover of the W210 is held in place by metal screws which effortlessly come off and on after 20 years. That's just to illustrate Ford reliability. And no, the parts are not cheaper than in a Mercedes.

Now that you have been warned, let us get to the good part.

The car is really nice to drive. Rear wheel drive, corners very well, nice turning circle. It has torque and refinement. It is not noisy at high speeds. I once drove with 4 or 5 people at 190 km/h, and they did not notice the speed and the ones in the back seat were having a normal conversation.

The fuel consumption is average, OK for a large car (I had it converted to LPG, this is common in Bulgaria and environmentally friendly too ;)

It is a big car, so it's not meant for stunts, but it is a nice cruiser and all around car (not counting the maintenance).

The seats are comfortable (not as comfortable as the W210, but even the new BMW 7 series can't beat the Mercedes). There is enough leg room. Once again, the engine is refined and has torque, even though it is only 2.3L and has 4 cylinders (Cosworth helped with it, although they did not make all of it). And there are the cheap and disintegrating Ford plastics all around it. I seem to prefer 4 cyl to 6 because of the low down torque.

So, don't be fooled by its cheap price, you will go bankrupt if you buy it. You will have to repair these cheap plastics to get it running. Otherwise you will run out of either water or air or electricity, and the car will simply not move.

If, for some reason, you have money to waste, it is a really competent and comfortable car which will give you lots of driving pleasure.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st June, 2018

23rd Jun 2018, 13:44

Well detailed review. Looks aside, this car was as good as any from the time period. Audi, BMW and Mercedes dominated the executive market back then, and to this day they pretty much still do. So even if the Ford was better looking and more reliable, I doubt they would have made a successor.

1996 Ford Scorpio Ultima 2.3 petrol from UK and Ireland


Fantastic value, very underrated


Rear wheel bearing failed shortly after purchase - £30 DIY fix.

Changed all 4 discs and pads shortly after purchase - £80 DIY fix.

General Comments:

Very well equipped, climate control, full leather, electric seats, traction control, 6-CD changer etc...

Superbly comfortable and spacious.

Good performance for the size of vehicle, handles very nicely and reasonable fuel economy at 24.5 mpg - better than the 18mpg I used to get from my precious car - 2.9i Granada Scorpio Estate.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th September, 2007