picture postOld News: 1991 Ford Explorer mule

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1991 Ford Explorer

The 1991 Ford Explorer was a new contender in the burgeoning 4-door, small SUV segment that, since 1984, had been primarily occupied by Jeep’s XJ Cherokee. Compared to Cherokee, however, Explorer was larger, having a wheelbase measuring nearly one foot-longer; and almost half a foot longer compared to the 4-door Chevrolet Blazer which had been introduced just months prior.

1991 Ford Explorer mule

The Explorer went on sale by March of 1990 but this image of a test mule made the media rounds by February of 1988, at which time they appeared to be cobbled from Bronco II body panels. Incidentally, the Explorer replaced the tipsy-looking 2-door-only Bronco II which, conversely, had a wheelbase that measured more than half a foot shorter than 2-door versions of the Cherokee and Blazer.

1991 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer

Its engine was constructed in Germany and it had a French-built transmission, unless it was equipped with a manual, in which case it was Japanese-sourced. Nevertheless, the Explorer was a tried and true American icon thanks to great sales, that peaked at 445,157 in 2000; the Firestone fiasco, settled in May 2001; and because of a movie, the highest-grossing film until Titanic.

1993 Jurassic Park Ford Explorer

Jurassic Park debuted in June 1993 and, in the end, the box office rang up more than $1 billion worth of tickets. As Reeses can attest, having taken the E.T. offer that M&M’s rejected, a role in a blockbuster movie can make a difference. Although Jurassic’s original story featured Toyotas, Ford provided seven Explorers—for the price of three. We’ll never know the magnitude of return on that measly marketing investment but it had to exceed by magnitudes the cost of donating four Explorers.