The 1990’s ended quite some time ago, but as Matthew McConaughey’s character from True Detective would say, “Time is a flat circle.” Just think about it: in 2015 we have a Clinton running for President, TV shows like Full House and The X-Files returning to television, and fresh installments of the Jurassic Park and Terminator franchises about to hit the big screen. And just like twenty years ago, Ford makes a Taurus police variant that isn’t very popular.
That’s the polar opposite of how the civilian model was received, of course. At this point in its life, the Taurus was still the apotheosis of the American mid-size sedan, and a clear indicator the Malaise Era had ended.
Today’s eBay find is actually the second generation of the Taurus police car, which was first introduced for the 1990 model year. Astute pop culture aficionados will note that this was three years after the first Robocop movie, which came out in 1987. I’d imagine the combination of positive buzz surrounding the Taurus and its firm entrance into the American zeitgeist were the reasons Ford ultimately decided to give police departments another option besides the Crown Victoria. Or they thought municipalities that dealt with harsh winters might appreciate a vehicle that could plow through the snow better than their traditional rear wheel drive offering.
Ford engineers beefed up many suspension and engine components, in some cases just realizing elements from the SHO could do the job for their front wheel drive police cruiser. Due to the requirements demanded of a police cruiser, two air vents had to be carved into the non-grille area between the headlights, which kind of betrays the design of the aero look a bit, but if they needed more oxygen to get into the engine bay, so be it. Basically, the enhancements can be summarized by quoting The Blues Brothers, which I won’t do because I’m sure all of you can recite it from memory.
For the second generation police Taurus, Ford was able to get more air to the engine by one horizontal slot underneath the Ford oval in a blink-and-you’d-miss-it style that was more tasteful than their previous solution.
Our featured car sports what I think is Electric Red Clearcoat Metallic, but if you follow this link, what you see above doesn’t really gel with the picture. In any event, I’ve never seen this color on any civilian second gen Taurus. Regardless of the color, I’d say the paint is in pretty good shape for being 20 years old. All this bull really needs is the crystalline headlights that were standard on the upper level LX models to make it look like new.
Since this Taurus isn’t in a typical squad car white, I’m inclined to believe the seller that this was a detective’s car. Aside from the spotlight (which seems to actually be integrated with the side mirror rather than drilled into the A-pillar) and the dog dish hubcaps, this looks like your standard GL or SE sedan.
Further strengthening the case that this was a detective’s car is the extremely clean interior. No evidence of a rear partition anywhere. Then again, were they even made for the Taurus back then?
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the police version of the Taurus was the engine. Ford managed to coax 225 lbs of torque from the optional 3.8 Essex V6 in this iteration, which is at least 30 pounds more than any standard engine available on a mid-sizer currently in production. Since the Taurus was some 600 pounds lighter than the Crown Vic, its possible their 0-60 figures are similar, or at the very least not very different. I’ll believe the seller that the car “pulls like a freight train to 131+ mph.”
Did the police modifications negate the headgasket issues associated with this engine or the issues with the AX4S automatic transmission? The Taurus Car Club of America lists a transmission cooler as one of the upgrades for police spec versions, which could conceivably assuage concerns over its reliability.
Perhaps the best case for buying this car is looking at its maintenance history as written on the engine bay. Its clear this car is well loved by the owner, and has recently received new calipers, pads, and a battery.
Now this picture is interesting for two reasons. The first is the obvious Crown Victoria sitting to the left of the Taurus. Is it a former detective’s car as well? Perhaps the seller drove these vehicles before he actually owned them, or simply snatched them up before they went to auction. The “Police Special” is also interesting, because a Google Image search did not show other second generation Taurus police cars with the same badge. I’m thinking there was a separate detective version, which likely makes this more rare than the ones decked out for patrol duty.
Regardless of what you think about this generation being used for police use, this is a pretty uncommon piece of machinery that is even more of a sleeper than an SHO of similar vintage. I’m just not sure it justifies its $1800 asking price, but at the same time I don’t think that dollar amount is far off from what I’d be willing to pay. And by willing to pay, I mean I would actually purchase this car if I had the extra cash and garage space to store it properly.
Apparently, the Taurus has the distinction of being the first front wheel drive car to be offered with a police package in the United States, at least according to this website, which also looks like it was made in 1995.
mr. chopper wikipedia commons
Twenty years later, Ford once again has a Taurus-based police car, only this time there is no Crown Victoria version that is more popular. Instead, the Taurus based Police Interceptor is outsold by the Police Interceptor Utility; A.K.A. the police variant of the Ford Explorer. I’d imagine the first Taurus optimized for police duty lacked a business case because the Crown Victoria was bigger and based on a platform much more familiar to police department mechanics. Today’s version is also competing, and losing, the sales crown against a bigger vehicle, making things come pretty much full circle for the storied police sedan.
Check out the ad here. You’ve got less than a day to buy it, either for yourself or for me. I’d obviously very much appreciate it if you handed me the keys.
COAL: 1993 Ford Taurus GL by Ben Dinger
Curbside Classic: 1992 Mercury Sable GS by Brendan Saur