Ford Taurus SHO

Ford Taurus SHO

What's an dual overhead cam powered sport sedan disguised as a family car doing in a web site about a 1935 pickup truck with a flathead engine?

Well, the Taurus SHO is more or less responsible for my getting involved with cars as a hobby as opposed to just transportation.

When I was a teenager, I wasn't really into cars. I did help my mother pick out a used car for my dad when I was around 14. I was astounded that my mother would pick a 1967 Mustang. It was very basic: 6 cylinders, 3 speed manual transmission, but still fun to drive. Heck, anything was fun to drive. But then I went off to college and grad school, and there was no money and little opportunity to drive. When I finished grad school I purchased a variety of vehicles, used and then new, but all basic transportation vehicles: '71 Plymouth Valiant, '78 Toyota pick-up, '81 Escort station wagon, '84 Dodge van.

At that point, economics no longer dictated the most basic choice, but I still preferred driving manual transmission. Here in New England, there's enough snow where careful use of the clutch will keep you from spinning the tires, and if you stay out of the Boston traffic jams, shifting is fun, not a chore. In 1987 I bought one of the few Ford Taurus with a manual transmission, the MT-5. In many ways this car is the precursor to the Taurus SHO: (optional) leather seats with power adjustments, cornering lamps, premium sound system (but not up to audiophile standards), but definitely not in the engine department which was only offered in a 2.5L four cylinder engine. Still, it was a comfortable and reliable if not speedy car.

Fast forward to 1996: my Taurus was at the nine year old mark and starting to show its age. My oldest son was approaching driving age and in a year I would be looking at too many years of paying college tuitions. Time to get something new. One of my co-workers had purchased a Taurus SHO a couple years after I bought my Taurus. I rode in it a lot when we went to lunch together, but hadn't driven it myself. The SHO looks like a Taurus on the outside but has a real engine on the inside: a 3.0 Liter engine made for Ford by Yamaha that looks like it came out of a Formula 1 car. The trouble was that in 1996, when Ford redesigned the Taurus they dropped the manual transmission option. They still make SHO's, but the new SHO's are automatic transmission only. I ended up just a little too late to find a new 1995 Taurus SHO at a dealer, but found a used 1994 SHO 5-speed that had been owned by an enthusiast (maybe fanatic is a better word) who had taken good care of the car.

1966 Mustang convertible

As a bonus, I had saved enough by buying a used car instead of a new one to indulge in some advanced adolescent behavior and bought a 1966 Mustang. Like many people buying their first vintage car, I probably spent a little too much for it, but it's a convertible, looks nice and was restored by someone else about 5 years ago. It's also just a 6 cylinder with an automatic transmission, but still fun to drive.

Although the car was restored back in 1990, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of things that need to be done. A lot of the sheet metal was replaced, including floor pans, fenders and quarter panels, but the doors, deck lid and hood are original. Someone did a nice job of welding pieces like the floor pans in, but some of the other assembly work under the hood was not done as carefully. We've had some of this fixed, and replaced other things like hoses, alternator wiring harness, spark plug wires, fuel lines and vacuum lines ourselves. The engine block was painted, but not rebuilt, and the paint is starting to peel in places. And the inner fenders and firewall weren't cleaned up too well. We haven't decided whether to the current motor rebuilt and detailed, get a blueprinted 6 cylinder motor from someone like Clifford Performance, or to look for another car with a V8 and a better restoration.

We do take the car to local Mustang shows where we have never failed to receive a dash plaque for participation, and once got a plaque for second place, 1966 and earlier Mustang convertibles. While the car doesn't look thirty years old, it does look five years old (at least), and does get driven regularly in the summer, although my wife still uses the van more for her nursery business and doesn't haul plants around in the Mustang.