Vrooom At The Top

With the zippy new Probe, Ford hopes to keep on accelerating

"Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black," decreed an entrepreneur named Henry Ford in 1909. Nowadays shoppers browsing through a Ford showroom can choose models in everything from basic blue to racy red, but the founder's favorite color remains popular with the company's executives and shareholders. And with good reason: the profit-and- loss statements of Ford Motor Co. have lately come only in black.

Since 1986, when the firm's annual earnings topped those of General Motors for the first time in 62 years, Ford has kept its accelerator to the...

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