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Holley’s Intergalactic Ford Fest Short Take: The Taurus SHO

Holley’s Intergalactic Ford Fest Short Take: The Taurus SHO

Not every car is going to be a performance screamer. They are more likely to be a comfortable way to get from Point A to B, economical to run, roomy enough for the needs of the operator, and visually inoffensive. For decades, Ford had that program down pat: the Falcon, the Maverick, the Fairmont, the Fox-body LTD. In each case, you got a four-door family mover that was rear-drive, had enough power to be useful, and for their time were fuel efficient. But in the early 1980s, Ford recognized that they had a problem. Their styling had become worrisome, and the disappointing performance and sales of the first variation of the Fox-body Ford Thunderbird and Mercury Cougar really hit home. But when Ford decided to try out an aerodynamic-driven redesign, it was a hit. From that moment on, aerodynamics would be Ford’s path for the remainder of the 1980s. Each car, from the EXP to the Crown Victoria, would somehow be affected.

But to replace the Fox LTD, Ford decided to bet the house. The Taurus was much hyped, the newest going thing for a family sedan, the way of the future. Ford even hedged their bets and were ready to keep the LTD in production should things have gone wrong. But they didn’t need to worry…the Taurus was a runaway hit. But for the gearhead crowd? Well, the Blue Oval had an answer for that, too: SHO. The combination of killer aerodynamics, a Yamaha-built V6 engine, and an available five-speed manual transaxle translated into a shockingly fun to drive car, one that had 5.0 Mustang-like power. Yeah, it turned the wrong wheels, but it turned them right.

The first two generations of Taurus SHO were ass-kickers. The third-gen, which ran from 1996-1999, should’ve been a beast with a Yamaha-designed V8, but issues with the camshaft sprocket soured people not already put off by the Oval Everything styling, and the fourth-gen example with the twin-turbo V6 has the guts and all-wheel-drive but doesn’t quite have the soul, it seems.

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6 thoughts on “Holley’s Intergalactic Ford Fest Short Take: The Taurus SHO

  1. Riverratcustoms

    I remember when these were new…BUTT UGLY then, BUTT UGLY now…Most taurus’s made it to the junkyard fairly early too…

  2. wayne

    I have owned two best cars made the one i have now a 2005 has 305000 miles and all its had done is starter and heater core.I still trust it to go a any place i want to go. I got used with 35000 so i know what been done gets 30-32 mpg and has room not some little spam can

  3. bob

    I had one of these, first year ‘ 89. Coolest looking engine ever. Great drive train. Unfortunately the rest of the car was a Ford. DMV wouldn’t give me my vanity plate SHO-LONG, wonder why?

  4. Dave

    We had a 95 SHO. It was quick and fun……..when not in the shop. We had an oddball issue with trans fluid running up the speedometer cable sheath and dumping hot trans fluid on my wife’s feet in cabin. 4 different dealers tried 5 times to fix problem. Got all my money back from Ford on lemon law claim in New York State.

    Ford factory rep said there was a technical service bulletin for a fix, which none of the dealers bothered to read. Up until then I was a Ford guy only. No longer.

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