…according to the New York State DMV, anyway. But everyone here knows better. The first generation Taurus has been a classic for quite some time. While the sedan gets most of the praise for its game-changing design, the wagon was also quite the coup as well. And this particular bull has aged in a most Helen Mirren like manner.
A white, first-generation Taurus wagon increases my serotonin level because I used to own one. This one however, is a bit different: its a base L model. We’ll see exactly what that entails below, but for now one difference that stood out was the body colored rocker panels. My GL wagon had plastic rockers that matched the bumper level wraparound in both material and color.
Another feature lacking on the base model: a rear window wiper. Strangely enough, my GL lacked this as well, so I’m not exactly sure which Taurus was the outlier in that regard. I also just noticed that the black out b-pillars that were noteworthy on the sedan are not featured on the wagon. Regardless, this particular example is nearly flawless, and I would be amazed if more than one hundred of these still exist in North America in similar condition.
My, what a nice engine bay you have there! Just more evidence that this car was garaged for its whole life. Either that, or the prospective seller decided to spray the bay in order to make this car more alluring than it already is. The “Vulcan” V-6 was well known for its bulletproof reliability and is the engine you want in a first gen Taurus. It was also famous for featuring easy to read labels for the washer fluid and coolant reservoir, something that was rare during the 80’s.
Check out this gloriously purple interior! It belies the modern looking exterior to some extent, but if you want to own a classic Taurus, why would you want your interior to blend in with more modern vehicles? The “not quite a bench seat” can fit another person up front if you push those dual armrests up. A clever feature that was still available in forth generation Taurri.
Purple seats, purple seatbelts, purple carpets, and a purple headliner. The only non-purple portion of this interior is the dashboard. And here we can see what an L model lacks: cruise control and power seats, among other amenities.
I take that back, as it seems only half the dash escapes the scourge of the purple monster. The upside is a control panel that is tilted towards you for maximum ergonomic goodness. This is the interior that put an American automaker on equal terms with its Japanese competitors. That column mounted shifter obscures our view, but judging by that temperature gauge I’d say the L models lacked air conditioning. I wouldn’t consider that a downside though, because even after ten years I can still remember just how powerless that V-6 became when you turned that dial to the A/C.
Here is ground zero for evidence that the L model is the base option: glaringly obvious spots for power windows and locks. But oddly enough, it seems all Taurri of this vintage feature power mirrors.
I’m going to hazard a guess and say that the third row option was a standalone option for the Taurus wagon, as my GL didn’t feature one. I’m not sure why someone would opt against it, as it looks like there is no sacrifice of cargo space. Anyway, either this example or my old wagon must have been a mid 1989 changeover, because my rear speakers were actually on the ceiling near the c-pillars. I’d be curious how the stereo sounds with the setup you see above, because the way my wagon was set up, those rear speakers were actually pointed towards the front, resulting in very good acoustics for a family car.
If I was older and more settled, I’d take the 4 hour drive to Maryland and pick this baby up. But alas, my classic car purchase will have to wait. If you’re interested, click this link to bid on it. As of this writing, there’s already been fifteen bids!
Another great CC find!
My Grandparents had one just like this, albeit in a light green “Seafoam” color. It had to have been a ’92 or ’93 though, as the dash was different. This is going on 2 decade ago; funny how you tend to look at things differently the older you get.
20 years ago, these were in just about every driveway in suburbia.
Alas, your statement, “I would be amazed if more than one hundred of these still exist in North America in similar condition” is spot on, as after a hard life toting the kids and groceries around, many of these succumbed to the tin worm or the grenade-like tendencies of the AX4D transaxle these came with.
Takes me back to the `91 GL Sedan that I owned.
Bought it in `95 with 50K, drove it until `00 when I had 144K. (Bought for $6,500 from a Ford Dealer in NJ.)
No real problems with it, apart from a non-working A/C by the time I was done. Still had plenty of vim and vigor. I once got 29.5 MPG on a trip up to Lake George as well.
Couldn’t really find any buyers for it with 144K, so I donated it to a Summer camp that a Friend was on the board of.
Next car – a `97 Sable with the Touring Package – Leather, Alloys, Sunroof, CD Player. Both with the Vulcan V6.
I went through one just like it but with power options. Went through two more of the gen2 Taurus wagons in succession. I would put about 100,000 miles on one and cycle it down to the wife. Within about four years she would get the next one from me and I would turn hers in with about 135K on the clock. These were great for my family and my business travel.
They all got new transmissions way too early and Ford paid for them. I was shocked that Ford could not get the transmission right on many of these. The driver seat also failed to hold up well under my 155 pounds. I thought that was natural until my Camry with 190,000 proved otherwise.
Someone must say it, it’s Friday so I’ll do it…155 to 190 000 is really stacking it on.
Mr. Creosote approves this comment.
Oh, barf. And so soon after finishing lunch.
“Barney” graced our driveway for too many months, after Dingbat the Babysitter decided to go ice skating on a hill with the Subaru wagon. Needed something large and in charge, and frankly the Subie (first of many) had pretty piss-poor side impact protection.
Finally had to have our Purple Ego-Eating Monster towed away by Kars for Kreeps, but not until we had rebuilt the transmission, front end, upper end, etc. But I do think that somehow we did squeak 90k out of it.
Long Live the Tortoise. In somebody else’s driveway, please.
Purple interior? I see dark red/burgundy, like Ron! Either
(A) I’m color blind,
(B) someone is using that terrible instagram carp to take pix, or
(C) the OP is colorblind! 😛
I vote the OP. That color was called “currant” and is definitely NOT anywhere close to purple, it’s rather a deep red.
I really hope not!
Upon a second look, I think some parts could qualify as purple, while certain items like the seats are more reddish.
Nothing screams “1980’s car” like red cloth seats. This is especially attractive if the car gets parked outside so that the sun can fade a dark red into some shade of putrid pink.
I’d call it burgundy (which I guess is closer to red). Whatever you want to call it, it’s a color interior I miss seeing in cars today.
It’s called “porno red” in Ford speak 🙂
Red interiors date back to the classic car era. And many 1960’s coupes and ragtops had them too. I can see Gen X’ers thinking that, but red seats was not an ’80s only’ fad.
This car brings back such intense memories. My mom purchased an ’87 wagon around 1993, when I was about 10 years old, to replace her much despised Toyota Corona wagon. I thought it was sooo cool, the design was way modern even at six or so years after introduction. First car we ever had with power windows. Silver, but same red interior and everything. She kept it up until about 2003(!) finally dumping it after 180,000 miles and two transmissions. This was the car I learned to drive in, which facilitated many many late high school adventures. The front bench seat was prime and something every young man should get to experience for obvious reasons. The jump seats got much use too. Being the first and only one of my friends with a license, I was frequently responsible for carting along hordes of my friends. Was pulled over rolling eight deep, first comment from the cop was “wow, everyone’s in seatbelts!” Oh my goodness the memories… and that red interior. Wow.
That interior is not purple. Burgandy or maroon are acceptable. And so much better than beige or gray.
People think the Camry is the world’s most boring car. They’re wrong.
Just do a Clark Griswold. Drive this POS underneath a logging truck, but then jump out and watch the fireworks.
Gotta love the “truckster treatment” they gave to the Taurus in that movie. Only woodie Taurus wagon I’ve ever seen.
Speaking of Clark Grisworld, here a clip posted on Youtube. 😉
Maybe it’s just my monitor (I don’t think so) but I wouldn’t call that purple but burgundy. Burgundy is a deep red with a purplish tone. That interior looks closer to red than purple to me.
> The “not quite a bench seat” can fit another person up front if you push those dual armrests up. A clever feature that was still available in forth generation Taurri.
I recently discovered that the same feature was also available in late 60’s fullsize Chryslers. The passenger seat also reclined. They called them “3-in-1” seats.
I would imagine that those speakers behind the rear seats are almost inaudible from the front seat. The factory rear speakers in my old van were on the walls behind the third row of seats and they were useless. I got some boxed speakers with brackets from Radio Shack and mounted them high in the D-pillars. Worlds better, and if I needed some tunes outside sometime, I could open the rear barn doors and spin the speakers around to face out the back.
EDIT: I took so long looking for the picture of the 3-in-1 seats that at least two people beat me to nitpicking about the colour. 🙂
CC Effect: I was watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and now I see that this is on CC. Whoa!
Ford got a lot right with these. My brother had a Gen 1 Taurus wagon and he still misses it.
He let me borrow it for a road trip once. I don’t remember why I asked to take his car, but I do remember that I was a lot happier driving the Taurus wagon than my ’88 base model Mazda 323. The split bench seat didn’t grip you making sharp turns, but it was plenty comfortable for a long drive. Lots of leg room front and back. Comfortable ride. Plenty of passing power from that Vulcan V6. A Taurus wagon was a car that soaked up highway miles with ease.
This wagon’s niche in the market is now filled by cars like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot. I don’t consider that progress.
I always liked the Taurus wagon. As for the argument about the interior color, I do recall it as a red/burgundy, but also recall that age and sun could do some odd things to the color over a long time.
Dahum. If it were any color BUT white, I’d bid. I hate white cars. But otherwise I love this Taurus.
I never had a Taurus/Sable wagon, but we did have a ’93 Sable GS for nine years. It was a sort of metallic beige on the outside, with beige interior–livable in southern Arizona, without being as boring as a white exterior. It had all the usual goodies for this trim level, plus apparently the light package (there was a trunk light and an engine compartment light) and alloy wheels. It also had, unfortunately, the 3.8 liter V-6. Lots of torque from that engine, but it wanted to run hot without ever quite overheating, and would ping furiously under load. It finally blew a head gasket at about 120,000 miles–we found out that was not unusual behavior for that engine, and that Ford put a secret warranty on later models, but not ours.
We never had trouble with the transmission, steering, or brakes, but the thing ate up A/C compressors. Rust is almost never a problem in Arizona; however, the top of the dash got a couple of cracks, and the sun broke through the clearcoat. The windows got unpredictable, too–moving sluggishly or not at all in response to the switches.
I still see old Tauruses and sometimes Sables on the road here, and sometimes a wagon; a lot of them are worse for wear by now. Tucson cars don’t rust away; the sun rots them instead.
we rented a 2011 crown Vic that had the same setup where raising the armrests provided a third front seat, with belt and all. so it lasted at least that long.
F-150s also have something similar. Between the extra seat and the open floor area, so much more useful than a huge console intruding on your space.
I grew up in an ’87 Taurus L wagon, Canadian spec. Ours had all the same features as this car, except for the rear jump seat, but added cruise control and air conditioning. These must have been optional, though. I really don’t see a Canadian-spec car having a higher level of standard equipment than the American version back then; nowadays I sometimes see heated seats and mirrors offered as standard features in Canada when they’re optional in the States, but that wouldn’t apply here.
“And this particular bull has aged in a most Helen Mirren like manner.”
Nice wagon, too.
The list of American station wagons of the post-Reagan years is a short one. The Bull was one of the best, second only to the Roadmaster Estate IMHO and just ahead of the last of the Panthers.
I loved the split rear hatch
God I miss seeing these cars! Used to see them as often as Camrys, now never. A lot of people I knew had one of these when I was a kid (2nd and 3rd generations included). By the time the 4th generation came out buyers just weren’t interested.
Another interesting feature was the available fold-out picnic table. I don’t think you could get one with the 3rd row.
That interior is definitely red, but I bet some fading has gone on. Unfortunately New York is one of those states where you cannot put year of manufacture plates or even historical vehicle plates on a vehicle without severely reducing the amount of miles you are allowed to drive or the types of events you can drive to. So, if I still lived in New York and I bought this car I would have to put the kind of ugly Gold and Blues on this if I wanted to drive it like a regular car.
This sure is a nice find indeed and while I still see a somewhat small number of 1st and 2nd gen Tauruses on the road almost none are the station wagon version. I miss the days when there were cookie cutter car categories instead of today when you have SUVs trying to be hatchbacks, station wagons trying to be SUVs, and Minivans trying to be full sized vans. Oh wait, there are almost no wagons for sale, the truest one I can think of is the Hyundai Elantra Touring.
“Oh wait, there are almost no wagons for sale…”
– VW Jetta Sportwagen
– Volvo V60 (coming soon)
– Mercedes/BMW/Audi (various)
– Cadillac CTS
– Nissan Cube
– Scion xB (dated, I know)
– Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT
– Ford Transit Connect and Mazda5, if you look past the sliding doors.
The XB and Cube are hatchbacks (maybe wanna be SUVs) in my book. The Mazda 5 is a Minivan and the Transit Connect is a van. Good list nonetheless.
Did Hyundai discontinue the Elantra Touring (wagon version)?
Well, they modernized it to where it’s no longer a wagon but a 4 door liftback…
half of your so-called “wagons” aren’t wagons….
The 2008- Scion XB according is considered a truck by the state of Maryland. The last registration card I had with it before it got traded in said Toyota TK in the vehicle type box. Toyota calls it an MPV.
The Transit Connect is a van
The Flex is considered a CUV
The MKT is considered a SUV
The Mazda5 is a minivan
The Nissan Cube is just plain ugly
What the heck is a CUV?
Cutesy Urban Vehicle? I prefer the term “combovers.”
No, I am not a huge fan of crossovers.
Unfortunately New York is one of those states where you cannot put year of manufacture plates or even historical vehicle plates on a vehicle without severely reducing the amount of miles you are allowed to drive or the types of events you can drive to.
I’ve often wished I could get 90s-vintage plates to match my 90s-vintage car, and I’ve come up with a plan to bypass the regulations – but I have no idea if it would work…
Here’s the idea:
1) Search vintage plate ads on eBay or wherever vintage plates are sold. Find a suitable specimen.
2) Go to the NYSDMV’s personalized plate website and enter the plate # to see if it’s currently in use.
3) If it is, do not buy! If it isn’t, order (current) personalized plates with a matching numbers/spaces on them.
4) Buy vintage plates and install on car. Receive personalized plates with same number in mail and throw them in the trunk.
Legal? Probably not! But I seriously doubt you would ever get caught. I’m gonna try this one day and I’ll let you know how it turns out.
This idea is in use here, isn’t illegal and certainly works well! Usually it’s just used for classic cars being put back on the road that have their original plates but have been out the system too long. The owners buy the same combination as a new personalised plate (black letters on white background) but keep the original plates (silver letters on black background if pre-1986) on the car. It also enables folks to keep foreign plates on their car by buying the personalised version – the proviso being our plates can only be 6 digits long, so the foreign plate needs to be 6 or shorter.
That column mounted shifter obscures our view, but judging by that temperature gauge I’d say the L models lacked air conditioning. I wouldn’t consider that a downside though, because even after ten years I can still remember just how powerless that V-6 became when you turned that dial to the A/C.
This Taurus does indeed have A/C, you can slightly make out the “max ac” marking just below the shifter. FWIW, I have yet to find a Taurus without A/C in all the years I’ve gone to junkyards, I keep an eye out too since they fit foxbody Mustangs.
This is how the non A/C panel would look on the 86-89…
I stand corrected! Thanks for the info.
We had one come into the service dept. at a Ford store I worked at many years ago, not only was it an a/c delete, it also had the dreadful 2.5L HSC 4 cylinder backed up by the equally dreadful ATX 3 speed auto. Who in their right would even order a dog like that?
Those were intended mainly for fleets or for dealers to offer up as loss leaders so they could advertise that low low “starting at” price.
However over at Chevrolet they had been offering up the Celebrity with the even more hideous Iron Duke and 3sp AT and a couple of years a 4sp manual. At least you could get the 5sp if you were shooting for the max MPG powertrain on the Taurus.
This does have AC the control would only have 4 positions if it did not have AC Off, Floor, Def/Floor, and Defrost. They other dead give away is the receiver drier visible in the engine compartment photo, it’s the round black canister hanging off the firewall to the passenger side.
The Taurus wagon was certainly as big of a game changer as the sedan, if not more so. Ford has often been the leader in wagon sales and proclaimed themselves “The Wagonmaster” in more than one brochure over the years. However in the early 90’s Ford advertising claimed that Ford had 50% of the wagon sales in the US, split between the Taurus, Escort and their Mercury siblings. I would bet that the Taurus probably accounted for near 50% of their piece of the market share or near 1 out of 4 station wagons sold in the US. Subaru had the majority of the remaining piece of the wagon pie and everyone else had a sliver of the remaining piece of the pie.
Nice find! First-generation Tauri of any kind are rare these days – wagons and Sables even more so.
For about three months I had one of these monsters parked in my driveway. It was either a ’90 or ’91 (a first generation) with the 3.8 liter and a self-consumed transmission. It belonged to friends of ours who were moving from Kansas City to Omaha. The tranny went south in St. Joe where we lived at the time.
They were the second owners and gave the car to me since they had camped out with their four kids (the youngest of which was 8 days old) for an extended weekend. Yay. Cost me $70 to tow it back to the house and get it titled in my name so I could donate it the heart association or some other worthy cause. The last I saw it, it was on a car dolly headed back toward Kansas City.
The original window sticker was in the glove box…it was over $25,000 when new.
Where have you been Edward? Nice to see you posting again. I always preferred the lines of the wagons over the sedans on the 1st & 2nd gen cars… The green interior of the second generation cars would make a 3.0 car hard for me to pass up.
Was green interior even offered in the first-gen Taurus?
” But oddly enough, it seems all Taurri of this vintage feature power mirrors.”
Actually, power mirrors were pretty much universal in Fords of the era, except maybe for the el cheapo PEP Escorts (maybe base-equipped Mustangs but I’m not sure). I remember renting a Buick Century sometime around 88 and being appalled that it didn’t have power mirrors, forcing me to do the old back and forth of leaning over to the passenger side 4 or 5 times to get the adjustment right. I thought it was a pretty annoying omission on a car that was supposed to be fairly upscale and a really cheapskate move on GM’s (and National’s) part.
Another bullet dodged.
These were indeed once *everywhere*. The first-generation car is getting harder to find in less-than-worn-out shape, though a friend in the ‘auto recycling’ business says that the yards have plenty of donor cars.
The Gen2 was barely changed; then Gen3 of 1996 brought in the whole “oval” look which was perhaps a little radical in some potential buyers’ eyes. But, to me, the 1996-2000 car looks better and better all the time, and there’s till a good number of clean ones on eBay/Craigslist with not all that many miles. I’d like to think the wagon will eventually become a kind of minor classic–maybe not of Nomad or Real-Woody stature, but still…
My parents test-drove the Sable version of this when I was 9. They decided on a Plymouth Voyager instead, because they liked the extra headroom and because they didn’t like the salesman at the Mercury dealer.
In Maryland, it would be old enough to qualify for historic tags (20+ years old).
I liked the refreshed ’92-’95s the best. It seemed the ovoid ’96+ got smaller or lower….
First generation Taurus and Sable are still quite commonly seen in California, where the Northeastern Rust Monster doesn’t live.
I was going to say a whole lot about the interior color, air conditioning, power options, as the former owner of a tomato-red 1986 Taurus L wagon; but it’s all been said already, which shows how popular these cars were. We also had a 1987 Sable wagon; then a 1992 Sable wagon, and still staying with Ford, a 2002 Taurus wagon (we skipped the ovals). That 2002 might look entirely different from the inside and on the street, but get underneath it and it looks mighty familiar. There was still a lot of 1986 in the FWD midsize Taurus when it was finally discontinued in 2007.
The very last Taurus wagons were sold in MY 2005, just an fyi. Sable wagons died in 2004.
Great looking wagons, both for then and now. We only got the ovals, wish we had these too.
Theres a 94 Mercury Sable not far from me its nowhere near as horrendous as the oval car, those might have gained some traction in the marketplace here.
I concur that this featured Taurus inside is NOT “purple”, but burgundy. There were purple exteriors in 1996-97, but no seats.
My brother refused to buy a minivan when his wife wanted to get a bigger car to haul the kids. He insisted on a Taurus wagon in 2000, and it was nice ride, but they got sick of it by 2005 and got an Escape Hybrid.
They used to put one of their kids in the back of the Escape, unbelted, until I reminded them it’s unsafe and illegal.
I have two. A 88 MT-5 and a 94 GL. Love em both.
How come some MT5s looked like SHOs with the black window surrounds, but some didn’t and had chrome ones like GLs?