Countdown To Project Taurus: The Plan Has Changed But The Spirit Remains The Same – Who Wants To Meet Up In Philly?

On January 27 I put up a post asking if anyone in the Bay Area could help me acquire a 1986 Ford Taurus LX that appeared to be in very good condition. That request occurred roughly seven days after the idea of buying the car started to become a reality. That week was an emotional roller coaster, that’s for sure. For a time, the deal seemed dead. Then it roared back to life and almost instantly got snuffed out. Fortunately, the CC community is filled with amazing people and a knight in shining armor arrived just in time! This post will detail how this whole thing started, what’s happening now, and where I plan to take the Taurus in the future.

There are some people who deserve a shout out too. And I’d like to have some sort of meetup at Radwood Philly on April 5. Let’s make it happen!

I am constantly searching the internet for first generation Taurus and Sable sedans or wagons. My goal was to acquire one later this year, around June or so. That timetable rapidly accelerated when tbm3fan mentioned he had found an excellent looking 1986 Taurus. Some quick digital sleuthing lead me to craigslist and the actual listing. Huzzah!

It’s important for me to clarify that coming across the ad did not initiate the purchasing process. I simply visited the listing to appreciate the Taurus in all its well-preserved glory. Two days later I sent the link to a friend that lives near San Jose. He responded fairly quickly:

“If I had somewhere to store it I’d buy it lol”

That’s the statement that really got the ball rolling. A couple of back and forth texts confirmed my friend was interested in buying and storing the Taurus until I could get it shipped back to New York. The excitement was palpable.

Things got real when he successfully contacted the seller. They planned to meet up that Saturday. What followed was several days of nervous excitement. The “secret” also got out in the form of a post at the Taurus Car Club of America. This did not help my state of mind. I didn’t exactly envision hundreds of people lining up to look at the car. But the possibility of the Taurus getting away from us crossed my mind…more than once.

The plot thickened when my friend met the seller on Saturday. It turns out there was a good reason he wanted to get rid of it: the car failed its smog inspection. Not coincidentally, he put the Taurus up for sale on the same date it couldn’t pass the test. The good news was that the car drove well and got up to highway speed just fine. But the smog issue threw us for a loop because my friend wanted to purchase the car and put it in his name before selling it to me. I didn’t really want to take possession of the car until spring, which is why we got tunnel vision. California requires owners of any 1976 and newer gasoline car to pass smog and a private party sale cannot happen if a car fails the test. My friend told the seller that he had a buyer if the smog issue could be rectified.

We also never solved the storage issue. I tried Public Storage but they only store cars if the owner can physically be present to sign the paperwork. It wasn’t looking great. Later that night I received a text from the seller saying he had sold it to someone who would take it as is. We didn’t know how that was possible but that seemed like the end of things. Only it wasn’t! The seller did say he’d sell it to us if the deal fell through. So there was some hope we’d still get the car. Paul wisely suggested we simply ignore the minor smog issue and register the car in my name, because New York exempts any car over 25 years old from emissions regulations.

I spent the time between Saturday night and Monday morning feeling a bit dejected. I’d written off the deal at that point. But the seller reached out to me on Monday morning with the news that his other deal fell through. It was back on! The gears started turning. One major problem though: the seller didn’t want to use Venmo or any other type of electronic payment app. Okay, no problem! My friend could do it. Only he couldn’t. He had personal obligations to attend to that Monday. Was this how things were going to end?

Once again, Paul kept things alive when he suggested I appeal to the CC community. I promptly wrote something up, posted it, and waited. It took about an hour and a half before we got a response from someone who could help. That was a harrowing ninety minutes for me. I tried to get some writing done but my brain was not having it. I was functionally reduced to reading the news and checking the post about every five minutes.

Fortunately, that paid off. And a white knight came to the rescue.

Looking back at the timing, it appears I let more than five minutes pass between page refreshes. Oh well. My response time was fourteen minutes. Not a spectacular time for emergency services to get to you, but perfectly acceptable for a Taurus-related boondoggle. That email ultimately put me in touch with Bill Gardner. Bill was the perfect person for the job. A true car guy who knows the ins and outs of the paperwork because he’s been around the block a few times. He agreed to complete the transaction and store the car at his place. Better yet, he’s an all-around nice guy who’s easy to talk to. Suddenly, everything felt a whole lot less complicated!

Bill ultimately handled the actual deal with aplomb and the Taurus is currently waiting to be picked up by a transport company. It should arrive in New York by February 19 at the latest. I’m sure many of you are wondering why I’m not taking it cross country anymore. The simple answer is that driving a 35 year old American car cross country is incredibly risky and I didn’t want to come home empty handed in case something happened to it. Plus, it’s not like I can’t do it in the future. I’d be much more willing to take a first gen Taurus from California to New York if I had a backup at home!

As for the car itself, I’m inclined to believe it’s close to the last of its kind. It’s a 1986 Taurus LX. In terms of major options, it’s missing the Instaclear windshield and the moonroof. Unfortunately, the car didn’t come with the original window sticker, so I don’t know what exactly is in it. If anyone knows where I can get that information let me know in the comments.

It’s also got the digital dash and a giant compass directly in the driver’s line of sight. Obviously, that is something installed by the previous owner. Hopefully whatever is keeping it on the dashboard leaves no lasting damage when it’s removed.

The interior is also very clean and the seats are in great shape.

As you can see from this screenshot I took of the Carfax report, it’s been very lightly driven its entire life. The Taurus spent just under six months with the previous owner. It seems the original owner was also vexed by emissions issues. That’s not going to be a problem for me. And it seems like the car is in very good mechanical condition. It’ll need new tires, an alignment, and a new gas gauge, but those are the only pressing issues right now. It’s going to have its fluids replaced too. I’ll have my mechanic look it over to see if it needs anything else. I plan to do as much work as I can on my own, but I may not do that initially.

That’s because I want the car to be in the best shape possible for Radwood Philadelphia. I’m going to take it there. And I’d like to meet as many of you as possible, either at the show or at a separate shindig. We can nail down the specifics at a later date, but as of right now, I think I’ll arrive in Philly on Saturday. We can do a meetup at a restaurant or bar, or we could just convene at the show itself the next day.

And it’s not going to stop there. Local shows aside, I’m seriously flirting with the idea of also taking the Taurus to Carlisle for the Ford Nationals in June. I think this is going to be a great year for both myself and the Taurus!

Finally, I’d like to once again thank the people responsible for making this happen. Tbm3fan deserves a shout out for posting about the Taurus, which started this whole thing. Paul most definitely needs to be thanked for his sage advice. And Bill Gardner, as previously discussed, has earned my utmost gratitude for making sure the deal actually happened. Bill, you are the absolute best!