Dave Saunders spotted this gen1 Tauros SHO with a somewhat unlikely load on its roof. These cars aren’t getting any more common; I do have one shot, and will get to it one of these days; how many times have you heard me say that?
I remember when these first came out. One of the guys I worked with at the time was a loyal Ford buyer who had the habit of trading cars every 2 or 3 years. Three of us drove to his Ford dealer over lunch, all dressed in suits and ties. I was in my late 30s and my co-workers had ten years on me. His salesman was not working that day, and he asked if we could drive one. There was only one there and it had just arrived. The salesman said he needed to check with his boss.
He came back out and told us that because the car was new, it was not available immediately for a test drive because someone had an appointment to drive it. Unknown to him, one of our party was in the showroom and overheard the conversation. The manager asked if my friend indicated he was buying today. When told no, the manager said “then don’t let him drive the car.” When this got relayed back to us, the would-be test driver was livid. I do not believe he ever bought another car there, although he would go on to buy several other nice cars.
There’s one of these for sale on eBay motors even in my favorite color combo of green with tan interior and sporting the manual trans but with almost 200,000 on the odometer I’d be a little gun shy personally.
Obviously, much has been said of the SHO, but I’ll add my two cents:
Summer of ’96, I take a HS job as a shop boy for a car stereo installation shop. All of the employees were extremely jaded about the automotive world, in a way that usually didn’t jibe with an “enthusiast’s” viewpoint. These guys would LOVE to work on a ’90 Escort Pony; bone simple, caveman electronics, wham, bam, there’s your alarm and new stereo. They despised Corvettes…fiberglass bodies don’t lend themselves to eliminating interference due to lack of good grounding points. Anyway, even with all the hate of what I thought were cool cars, there was one piece of automotive advertising tacked to the wall. It was a 2 pager, cut out of a magazine and carefully hung. It was an overhead shot of the Yamaha V6 from a first-gen SHO. I, in my ignorance, had only a vague idea what this engine was, or what it meant to those crusty old installers.
Well, they had all grown up in the malaise era. They universally had fond memories of wheezy old Montes and Cutlasses; memories only, because most of those junkbuckets had long hit the crusher. It was explained to me (not in these terms) that the SHO finally represented to them that performance was still alive; Ford had finally built a world-beater, even if it DID take a japanese engine to do it. Finally, a break from 110 hp small block V8s from the Big Three.
They held the SHO in a reverent place.
Made a big impression on me. Little did we know that the new performance revolution had just begun.
I’ve written at length before about the ’93 automatic my wife and I bought for our son’s first car. It was only $600 as long as I could fix the brakes and various other minor maladies.
Ford didn’t make it easy for a backyard mechanic to work on the car. Imagine, say, having to replace the donut on the rear exhaust manifold and you break a stud in the process and need to remove the manifold to fix it…and the first instruction is…
“remove rear cylinder head”…
For someone raised on RWD vehicles that Dinah Shore and Don McLean sang about, it was a shock indeed. I could go on and on about bringing back a vehicle that’s sat under a tree for several years…especially here in the salty, snowy Northeast…but I think you’ve heard/read/experienced it firsthand before.
When it ran, it was an amazing ride. Except for torque steer when you nailed it, it was a ball to drive. Just don’t have to work on it. Which I did…a lot. I don’t blame Ford as much as I do that it sat under a tree for several years.
One weak part was the AXOD tranny, which gave up the ghost one gear at a time until the local junkyard had to come haul it away. And my son, who’s now 20, drives a ’95 Blazer…not as glamorous…but reliable.
I owned a 93 auto as well and you have essentially told my story as well. Bought t it at 100k on the odo with a new tranny. I was a long distance commuter and should have had a Camry but this wasn’t a Camry. I may have received my last ticket in that car.
My brother had an SHO for 6 months and sold it. He could not afford the speeding tickets. Something like one a month for the first four months. This was the fastest four door North American built sedan ever built to that date. I drove it once, pulled out in the passing lane and hit it and I thought I was going to have whiplash, one quick Fomoco!
I drove a couple miles next to one of these with someone’s grandma at the wheel. Looked like a real clean example too. One with the 5-speed sure would be fun.
From what I’ve read the clutches could be a weak point with the 5-speed. FWD, not much room to work, I was happy with the auto. Just figure on one every 80 to 100k.
At age 18, my dad brought home a slightly used ’89 Taurus as his new car. I took a glance and groaned a bit, but I noticed that it had some nice wheels. So, I looked in the window…a stick?! I figured that it could at least get out of its own way if it was a stick, and felt good that my dad at least did not buy the Taurus that was preferred by the pre-WWII generation. Then, I got my first ride…if I remember correctly the SHO could hit 70 in second gear and feel strong, 90 in third with plenty more to give before shifting to fourth! I suddenly realized that my ’85 Prelude (great car) was no longer going to satisfy me. In order to receive the privilege of driving the SHO by myself, I immediately started demonstrating my ability to be a responsible and safety conscious driver in front of my dad (never revving above 4500rpm with him in the car). The day came when I was finally trusted to drive the car by myself. By that time, being responsible and safety conscious had become a habit. And knowing that this SHO was a special car, I did not abuse it beyond its capabilities (because I was planning to buy it from him in the future). What fun that car was to drive!!!
Unfortunately, a couple months later, the drunk two doors down squarely backed into the driver’s side a-pillar (also catching the front wheel/suspension) of the SHO while it was parked with his old K-5 Blazer…car totaled, he had no insurance. SHOwtime over. (sigh)
brings back memories of the one my mother drove, a white 95 ATX SHO. They got it when I was a senior in HS, drove it to my prom.
Lots of fun times in that ride. It wasn’t as fast as the Spirit R/T it replaced, but it was twice the car everywhere else.
I’ve always loved these cars, and one day will own a first or second gen MTX SHO. I always read about them in car magazines, hell I had the picture of a black ’91 SHO hanging up in my locker in high school. I remember when a buddy of mine’s parents picked up a XR4Ti used and a used ’89 SHO. He thought the Merkur was fast because he never really gave the SHO the beans.
I still remember the first time really winding out the SHO and the noise it made. From that point on, he always drove the SHO. In fact many years later he still holds a grudge against his sister’s husband for letting the SHO go to crap under his watch.
The noise, though, that came out of that Yamaha V6 was just unreal. Those who have driven one know, it really was the complete package.
My Dad was so taken by that SHO that when he was picking up his ordered-new-first-in-town ’97 F-150, he saw a ’96 SHO in the dealer’s service bay. It had just arrived and was getting detailed, but all Dad had to see was the motor – he bought it on the spot.
V8 SHO’s were 90% of the original, if they would have had a MTX option they would have easily been as, or more, legendary than the first gen. Still it wasn’t a slouch and sounded fantastic.
One day I will own a cherry SHO. Maybe one of each generation. I still kick myself for not grabbing some in the late ’90s when they were available for next to nothing.
Can’t ever see one of these with this little rust up here in the rust belt. But they are still nice cars anyway.
Sadly the only time I see these in the Chicago area is in the salvage yard. I always pop the hood just to look at that wondrous 24V V6….
The V6s were astounding, the V8s were crap. They had (have) a habit of throwing the press-fit timing gears off the camshafts, grenading them. This was happening early on, when the cars were still fairly new-no recourse from Ford. An aftermarket cottage industry exists to either pin, or weld the cam gears. Without this, any one still running is a ticking time bomb.
I had an ’89 manual as my Ford management lease car for that year. It really was my idea of a perfect long-distance cruising car, and was equally at home in the twisties in Colorado. I got my most expensive ticket ever in that car (96 in a 55 zone in Kansas). I had been a good boy as we were driving on freeways in Missouri and Kansas that day, but when we got onto KS 150 in Chase County, I decided to open it up a little. KS 150 is straight, but has some nice rolling hills, and I was having some fun cruising in low triple digits, then as I crested a hill a car came over the next hill heading towards us. I lifted, but a second or two later the radar detector went off (definitely an “AW S**T moment). As luck would have it, the ticket was a mail-in ticket in Kansas, and I had my checkbook with me, so I mailed in the payment the next day (good thing, because the due date was before the date when we would be returning via the same route).
It cost me $125, but at least I found out how stable and comfortable that car was at extra-legal speeds.
The 1st gen SHO is what a car should be. Excellent motor, comfortable seats, and 30MPG at Interstate speed. [That last measured&calculated carefully twice.] Purchased a used ’89 SHO in ’94. 66K miles. My daily driver for the next dozen years. Gave away in ’06 at 240K miles. All of the Taurus including wiring&interior were rusted&rotted, but its Yamaha&M5 still worked well. When first purchased decided to experiment how fast it would go. Rural WI farm:market. Straight. Visibility measured in miles. Straddled center line. Floored it until passed very distant rock. Then coasted to regular speed. Topped @130MPH, about 10MPH under its tested top speed. ¡FUN! But never duplicated since there were my loving wife, small son, and mortgage depending on me. Hitting the gas in 3RD always produced the laughter that accompanies real happiness. Ford again offers a Taurus SHO, but it is not a real SHO without a M5 or M6. Even as an extra cost option. Thank you to CC for running this RE the SHO.
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