Sigmund Freud may or may not have said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. Given all the reasons, interpretations, and obsessions with owning or driving certain cars…well, in my opinion, the Ford Five Hundred is just a car. Which is kind of too bad, because, for our family, it was (two times over) a solid and dependable provider of transportation. While the Five Hundreds offered nothing that stood out or made them special, they did the job they were purchased to do, all the time, every day.
The anonymity had its advantages. Our two examples were silver, so they blended right in. I can count a number of times when I was going at least as fast as every other car on the freeway, if not faster, and when the Highway Patrol suddenly showed up, someone else got pulled over for the speeding ticket, instead of me. I could park it anywhere, and it was never messed with. Wherever I went with it, people never engaged me because of the car.
In matters of purchase as used cars, at least partly due to the lack of any reputation at all, good or bad, the depreciation after three or four years was rather complete. My example, a mid-$20k car new, was bought for $9k, three years later, with hardly a scratch on it and showing 13,000 miles. That’s a deal. Or, perhaps it depreciated quickly because it was looked at as an “old person’s car”. In any case, my frugal side was rewarded in the purchase of these cars.
Backing up a bit, recall that I had, fifteen years or so before, mapped out the ultimate logical and rational car purchase for our needs and limits, a new Dodge Spirit. At the dealership, we got “upsold” to an Intrepid instead. The Intrepid was fine, but it was not a coldly rational and frugal purchase. It was the “new thing”, it had style, and it had some novel engineering. It was nearly a “first year” car, meaning that unknown or unpublicized bugs may not have been worked out, especially in the days before the internet, when information didn’t spread like wildfire. But, it all worked out fine.
So, this time around, I looked at all the things I wanted. I wanted safety and a solid bigger car. I wanted to sit up a bit high, like the PT Cruiser and not like the Intrepid. I wanted a used car, slightly and gently used, that would last a long time and hold up well. I wanted a traditional car with seating for four or five, a big trunk, and some power and reasonable comfort but still a bit of economy. A mid-size at the bigger and heavier end of mid-size. As I would be buying used, I could zero in on what I wanted, and I would likely not be “upsold” at a dealership. The Five Hundred (and Mercury Montego) hit all the targets. It didn’t look like much, but it was not unattractive, and it had a solid feel and heft to it. For a guy who often drove a full sized pickup, the slightly ponderous handling, and a bit of lack of power with a slightly noisy engine, were not dealbreakers. All of it actually sealed the deal for me. Lots of small quibbles about things, but nothing really wrong with the car, made for a cheap car for what one got. Sellers wanted out from under them, since dealers wouldn’t offer much on trade-in, and potential buyers did not beat paths to the sellers’ doors.
I bought the first one outright for cash, from an acquaintance whose uncle had aged out of driving. Selling the car would prevent said uncle from trying to grab the keys and drive off somewhere, so I helped the family, and perhaps made the area roads slightly more safe as well.
My first impression was that the car really was a Ford version of my parents’ pair of older Volvo 240 series sedans. The tank-like road manners and the bland styling, while using a ton of hard and neutral plastic in the interior, all said “Volvo” to me. I knew that the basic car was a derivative of the higher-end Volvo platform of recent years, which also appealed to me. I had always wanted a Volvo for a daily driver, just a little bit.
Some of the features of the car were small delights. I liked the higher-up seating position. The six-speed automatic transmission was silky smooth, and there was the proper gear for every driving circumstance. The engine itself was off-the-shelf Ford V-6, so parts and repairs were easy. The trunk was cavernous, and the split rear seat backs could be folded down, to create a common space between the interior and the trunk. The radio had an automatic volume control, that raised the sound system volume as road speed increased, so one was not turning the sound up while underway and down at the traffic lights. Perhaps not new to cars, but it was new to me. Similarly, this was the first car I owned with automatic temperature control. Set your desired interior temperature, and let the car manage the controls. The six-disc CD player was nice, too. Just keep feeding CDs into the thing, and it swallowed them all, and played them, one by one. For long trips to the kids’ colleges, all the way up in Northern California, six CDs in the CD player was a great thing.
The mileage was 20-ish per gallon around town, but, by working at it, 28 to 29 mpg could be squeezed out of it on the long trips. The running mileage meter (another new feature to me) was a source of constant challenge to get good mileage out of the long trips.
The anonymity of the thing had its funny moments. Soon after I had bought the car, I took it to Fontana to watch the NASCAR race. We couldn’t find the car in the parking lot later in the day, though I swore it was parked in the area. I used the “hit the key-fob alarm” feature to find the thing, and I discovered we were standing not ten feet from the car.
I found that the generic “big Ford” look, in the rear view, could be used to my advantage. It looked vaguely like the Panther-bodied police cars that were still in the fleets, when the typical driver looked in his rear-view mirror. I do like to drive fast, as fast as the fastest other cars on the road, and that means overtaking quite a few drivers in the fast lane. If I drove that Five Hundred in a “swoopy” fashion, some drivers thought I was a cop, and would shift lanes and slow down. Others would see that kind of abrupt-slowing-down thing going on, and the Ford coming up fast, and mimic the first drivers, getting out of the fast lane and slowing down themselves. Some would even hit the brakes to do so. Done right, the way would part like the Red Sea, opening up the fast lane for me to barrel down it. Driving fast and “swoopy” was the way to get it all started. I call it “swoopy”, and what that means is that you maintain speed, while shifting lanes in smooth arcs of the car, not dodging and weaving. If you can’t maneuver smoothly, just follow the car in front of you, closely but not too closely. Then, when you have your chance, swoop out into the next lane, with a minimum of steering inputs, and with the steering and throttle inputs progressively induced. There you have it, “swoopy”. People don’t think about it consciously, but fast, swoopy drivers in big Fords registered in their subconsciousnesses as cops. In 2022, the cops drive mostly SUVs. But, twelve or fourteen years ago, they still drove quite a few sedans.
We bought the first Five Hundred outright, as we needed a third car. Our son was moving off-campus at school, and he needed a car, so he took the Odyssey. Later, when it was time for me to get rid of the PT Cruiser, I saw a Five Hundred on a car lot, that I drove by daily on the way to work and back. This was a Buick dealer that had imploded when GM closed divisions and stiffed everyone in 2009 and 2010. The proud, long-time Buick dealer was forced to convert to a small used car lot, and tried running its service department as an independent repair shop. Quite a sad and rapid come-down for the Buick dealer. So we traded the PT for the second of our Five Hundreds. The salesman told stories of the recently concluded “good times”, and his office was decorated with rather recent photos of the large dealership forecourt, jammed with new Buicks. When we bought the car, the forecourt was an almost empty wasteland. The used car dealership and independent repair shop lasted another year or so, and now the lot is an overflow parking lot for a nearby medical complex. Things change and things fail. Sometimes things that seem prosperous and permanent still fail. It’s how the world works.
We were a two-car, two silver Ford Five Hundred family (not counting the truck and the toy cars). I find out now that my daughter was mortified that we had “matchy-matchy” cars. She thought it was weird. We could detect slightly different hues of silver in the two cars, and mine always parked outside, while Vicki’s got the prime garage space. In a pinch, the license plate letter sequences were completely different, and the plates could be read.
The only chronic mechanical issue we had with the cars was the failure of a big, elaborate, and expensive motor mount. With two cars, we went through three or four of them, over the years. Like the PT Cruiser, the Five Hundreds held up well, and really didn’t show their age or mileage much. But, like the Intrepid and the Odyssey, I did lose the automatic transmission in a Five Hundred. I don’t seem to get along well with automatics. Perhaps my heavy throttle pedal induces failures. I don’t know. Downshifts in the Ford, all of a sudden, became graunchy and would jerk the car around. The valve body had blown, is what I was told. A rebuilt transmission was exchanged for the damaged original, and the car carried on.
It did have one really odd quirk. Have you ever driven an old pickup, where the fuel sloshes around in the fuel tank mounted behind the seat? I’m sure that if you drive one frequently, as Paul does, you become immune to the sound. But riding only occasionally in an old truck, the sound is jarring and uncomfortable. Well, I was hearing such a sound. At stop lights, the big sloshing sound, behind my head, in the back of the car somewhere. Eventually, I found that the left rear door of the car was almost entirely filled with water. The drain holes at the bottom of the door had become plugged, and the door had progressively filled with water, over time, perhaps by running between the window rubber and the trim pieces, or something like that. In any case, unplugging the drain holes, by poking them with a tiny screwdriver, yielded a flood of water from the door. To the car’s credit, the door latch, the window, and the electric window lift all continued to work as they were supposed to, even after being drowned in water.
Our daughter took over one of the Five Hundreds when she got her first job, and the second car (mine) met an ignominious end. An almost new Lincoln sedan came barreling out of a restaurant driveway at full speed, hitting me just ahead of the rear wheel, on the driver’s side. No doubt the 85 year old driver had mistaken the throttle for the brake, in a moment of panic. No one drives out of a parking lot driveway at full throttle. But the Volvo-derived platform did its work, and though the car was totaled, I came out of it just fine. A gigantic twist was introduced into the frame, to the point where the car was violently unstable at speeds over about 30 miles per hour (I drove the wreck home). But the basic structure was still intact.
Later, the second Five Hundred was traded in, as part of an inter-family multi-car transaction. Daughter called the car “the boat”, and was glad to see it go. Too much of an “old person’s car”, and it had been part of a “matchy-matchy” pair, which she did not like at all.
Of all of our cars, the pair of Ford Five Hundreds were the “ghosts” of the fleet, passing through without leaving much of an impression at all. They were thoroughly competent at what they were built to do, but they had absolutely no personality, nor did they induce any particular pride of ownership. Some cars people have loved, and some have been hated. Remember that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, and these Fords have the most indifferent and invisible characteristics of all. For a car guy, the Five Hundreds were satisfactory choices. Not every car is special. I have a barn full of special car toys, and trucks I love to drive around. I don’t need my daily drivers to be special, necessarily.
I am nearing the end of my (so-far) lifetime of cars, and the arc of my personal experience with my cars has mirrored the general evolution of cars for the last sixty or sixty five years. Cars are so much “better” now. Safer, cleaner, and more precisely built. They are much more complex devices, but they are exceedingly reliable compared to the old ones, and do the things they do so well. Compare the Five Hundreds to the old Fords, the Ranch Wagon, the Mustang, and the Mercury Colony Park. We have come so far. Of course, if one goes backwards from those older Fords a similar amount of time, about fifty years, that puts one right about at the beginning of the era of the Ford Model “T”. Things have come a long way, because they were supposed to, and should have done. But the character of the cars seems to be muted these days, even as the quality and capabilities have skyrocketed. Also, the choice of car, back in the day, mattered much more. What one drove was a form of self-identity, like the clothes that one wore. It is still true, to some extent, but I will argue that that self-identification through choice of motor vehicle is much less strong today. Styling and flash may have only been skin-deep, back in the day, but they did stand for something. If one drove up in a Cadillac instead of a Chevrolet, it said things about that person.
Cars as a means of self-expression still exist. Ask the Tesla owner, the Corvette owner, or the Jeep driver about his ride, and he will get started on what it means to own and drive it, just like the old days. But the gaps between cars so freighted with meaning are wide, and are filled with extremely good cars that simply don’t give off the vibes to elicit passion. The Five Hundred was such a better car than the Mustang or the Colony Park. But the old cars had that personality to them, that most new cars simply do not have. It is not entirely the fault of the cars, or of the manufacturers. Buyers, these days, are more indifferent to their rides. The functionality exceeds the statement made, or the self-identity offered. Most new cars simply do not have “presence”. It is what it is.
One more project car to go, one more pair of current daily drivers, and a peek into the back of the Car Barn at a potential future project as part of the wrap-up. Two more COAL entries to go. Thanks for taking the ride with me.
This was, as noted, a thoroughly competent car. But Ford should have named it “Taurus”…they were on an “F” kick at the time. They finally did that later when it was redesigned, and resurrected “Sable” at the same time.
It seemed such a strange, and pointless, name.
500 cubic inches? You wish! 5.00 litres? Wrong again. It seemed a throwback to the sixties – as in, “Throw that nameplate back to the sixties!” 🙂 , which was when “x-hundred” nameplates were last in vogue, and even then only as a trim level designator. You’d have a Galaxie 500, a Fairlane 500, a Falcon 500, but never just a plain 500, sorry, Five Hundred.
Could be worse: FCA had the 300, which was bigger than the 200, which was bigger than the 500.
Except, there was no FCA in this time frame. The 2005 300 (LX) was a Gen III Mopar LH that Daimler had to figure out how to jam some of their parts into. Besides, the 300 back in the day WAS a stand-alone, singular name plate. The “banker’s hot rod”. Plus- comparing two different companies’ products trying to make a… point (? I think) is strange to me.
Oh how I miss my 2007 ford 500. Traded it for a 2016 ford focus. Too small for me. Loved my roomy 500. Great ride. Wish I had it back
I see there to 90% my European Ford Mondeo.
Little-known, off the beaten path, or unfashionable cars (like any large sedan nowadays) make great used-car bargains. I have a friend who bought a used Chrysler 200 for about half of what an Accord or Camry from the same year would have cost. I think the Camcords were better cars, but not that much better. Another friend several years back bought a five year old Pontiac Vibe; his reasoning for choosing that car was simple: “Toyota reliability, Pontiac depreciation”.
For years, I suggested a used Five Hundred (or Montego, or 08-09 Taurus/Sable) to anyone looking for a safe, affordable car for their teenage kids. The mantra for good cars for teens has long been “big, slow, boring”, and these cars, with their Volvo-derived platform, suited the bill well (at least the AWD/CVT versions of the 500/Montego; the Taurus/Sable got conventional automatics and a more powerful engine and weren’t slow, but nonetheless these cars don’t encourage speeding). Some of the safety tech features that were optional or unavailable on earlier cars became standard on the last-year 2009s, making a top-trim 2009 or an well-optioned 2008 the ones to seek out. Some of these also benefit from obscurity – how many people think “Mercury Montego” when used-car shopping? Apparently far fewer than think “Toyota Avalon” or “Nissan Maxima”, both of which have much higher residuals.
I never thought of the Five Hundred et al as generic cars, as they did have a few distinctive attributes. These include the unusually high (for a sedan) roofline and seating position, good outward visibility with thin pillars and a glassy greenhouse, and outstanding space utilization (more passenger space and cargo space than the much larger Crown Vic). They don’t look bad, sort of like a taller Audi A6. The interiors were quite nice, especially on top-trim models which had an elegant analog clock in the center of the dash. I still vastly prefer these to the car that replaced them, the 2010 and later Taurus, which gave up the space efficiency and visibility of the earlier generation and didn’t gain anything in return.
When I first saw these big Fords as replacements for the “Panther” sedans my thoughts were that the USA big sedan had lost their Unique Selling Point. They just look like any other Asian / Japanese / European big sedan. Put an Audi emblem on the front grille and everyone will believe it is an Audi.
So in short, these are very boring cars. Probably good cars but so generic.
Loved the article by the way, well written and good thoughts about the identity a car gives to its owner. I agree it was much more of an issue two decades ago. Nowadays more cars are just cars.
I may be wrong, but I believe the chief stylist for the 500/Montego also did the styling for Audi…so not quite an accident that they look so similar.
J. Mays was the head of Ford styling at the time. He was mostly known for the New Beetle, but also had some influence over other 90s VAG styling directions.
“Some influence”. Talk about an understatement, haha!
About 12 years ago when I went looking for a newer car, I stopped at a CarMax to check out what was a new location for the company and to find out about their selling ” experience “. The car I was really interested in, a Nissan 200SX SE, turned out to be a bit too tight of a squeeze for my 6 ft 4 frame, so I looked at a PT Cruiser nearby. It was an ok looking car, I guess, but it didn’t really do much more for me than allow me easy ingress and engress(?). The salesman then directed me towards a Ford 500. It was a nice car but looked even bigger than my father’s Taurus…not a plus for a lover of smaller, trimmer, cars. But yes, it was huge inside (not all big on the outside cars are big inside, too) and getting in and out was very easy. But no sale.
A few car trades later I would be driving a bigger Ford: a Crown Victoria/former police car.
BTW, the 500 had been ” previewed ” by 1 or 2 concept cars at auto shows around the country. It had generated quite a bit of interest as an all new, big car from a domestic manufacturer. When Ford did finally put the 500 into production, a large amount of that interest died because the production car had had its styling toned down and the drivetrain switched from RWD to FWD.
This car was actually supposed to replace the Crown Victoria as Ford’s big car before 2007.
I was really hoping a 3″ taller sedan would catch on, but the market went even higher to CUVs. As I recall from a single sitting at a car show, the sloped roof restricted rear headroom to that of normal sedans–barely adequate.
These never registered high on my radar at the time. In fact, I actively avoided thinking about them for a reason that turns out to not be true – I had understood that all 500s used the CVT, which turned into a bit of a problem child. Your mention of the 6 speed sent me to Wiki, which told me that the CVT was only on the AWD models. But then you had a transmission grenade on you anyway.
I only knew one guy who bought one of these – a late Mercury version. He has been a longtime Ford guy, but it must not have been all roses and lollipops because it went away relatively soon and his driveway became filled with Honda Accords in later years.
I kind of like the matchy-matchy thing, but have only known a couple of people who did that. But it follows a philosophy of mine – either buy what you know well (for the rational experience) or buy something completely different (for the lets-try-this experience).
I have really enjoyed this series and am sorry to see it coming to a close. Quick – buy some more cars! 🙂
I think the CVT/AWD version put people off of these cars generally, for mid-intensity people paying some attention. CVT was, at the time considered to be of questionable reliability, and more appropriate for little Asian cars.
I think the car should have been called Galaxie. At any rate, the entire marketing team should’ve been fired over their ridiculous F alliteration policy.
The Odyssey, intrepid, and Five Hundred all did seem to have transmission issues.
The alliteration thing isn’t unique to Ford; think how many Chevrolets had names starting with “C”. More inexplicably, many Toyotas also have had names starting in “C”.
The alliteration itself wasn’t the problem. The squandering of brand-name equity was the problem. So was limiting yourself to a much smaller pool of potential names.
What a great and wide range of vehicles and stories, and we still have two more COALs to go.
In my mind, the most interesting fact (so far), is that you still have that beautiful 1965 fish gills fastback Mustang.
I had briefly considered Five Hundreds twice — once when new, and once when looking for a slightly used car. I liked them… similar to you, I prefer conservatively-styled cars, and these were comfortable and had plenty of room. But neither time did they impress me quite enough to purchase one.
The first time, in 2008, my wife and I were looking for a new car, and since we both owned Fords at the time, that was the logical place to start. I liked the Five Hundred’s high seating position, cavernous trunk, and comfortable ride. Like you, I didn’t really mind the lack of power… I found it sufficient for our purposes, but that seemed to be reviewers’ biggest gripe at the time. However, we ended up buying a new Crown Victoria instead (one of the last people to do so).
A few years later, we were looking for a used car, and again eyed the Five Hundreds. They were great deals. I very likely would have bought one, but ultimately we decided not to buy another car at all right then. I recall several good deals on fully-loaded examples similar to yours, and I probably would have been quite happy with it. But wow, that’s an anonymous car… even for Anonymous Me, this was pushing the limits of facelessness.
Oh, and I like your daughter’s irritation with your “matchy-matchy” cars. Right now, we have two silver minivans (not identical… one’s a Honda and one’s Kia), but our daughters are annoyed that our cars look so similar. They’ve absolutely forbidden us from buying another silver vehicle.
I test drove one of these in snowy conditions and as it had AWD, it impressed me. Two days later I awoke to find my home town buried under a BLAZZARD! No problem; a couple of neighbors and I piled in and easily cruised the city, while I saw nothing else doing so on the unplowed streets!
However, from there it was all downhill. The 500 was fairly roomy and reasonably comfortable to drive, but it felt (was) SLOW plus had a hard time passing gas stations. My ownership did not last long before it was time to go back to Honda! At least mine was the red metallic like the one showing its trunk; far better visually, to my eyes, than WGB (WhiteGrayBlack). 🙂 DFO
My parents had a 500, in red. I think it was a ’07 model.
The power frustrated my father, as he and my mother lived in a relatively hilly area at the time and he said all it did was downshift two gears at a time. Fuel economy wasn’t spectacular, either, generally in the low 20s with primarily highway driving.
His biggest gripe was the inside of the windshield continually gathering a hazy film. The a/c crapped out by the time they parted with it at around 135k.
I drove the car a few times; it was okay, but nothing particularly memorable.
I was actually pretty psyched about the Five Hundred at the time it debuted in 2004/05, and watched the roads for them in gated anticipation. After the nadir of the oval Taurus and the Jac Nasser cost-cutting years, this model was heartening evidence that Ford was going to care about making competitive large cars again.
The company’s marketers deserved egg on their face for SOME of the name games they pulled in this era (facelifting the Windstar and calling it the “Freestar” was just plain absurd)…but, a new name was warranted for this car. The “Taurus” name had been defaced and tarnished from 1996 on, and by 2004 it had all the cachet of “Tempo” or “Corsica” in the annals of car rental fodder. Calling it a Taurus also made less than total sense when the old model was still in parallel production, and it was ambiguous whether the new car was more a direct replacement for the Taurus or for the Crown Victoria.
Another superb COAL series coming to an end? Time to start looking for a new COALer, or two, as Saturday is open too.
Anyone ready, willing and able?
Take a look in the Drafts section if you want as I have a number of them mostly ready to go; that said, the “able” part keeps coming into play on this end. My hope was to have more of them written before saying they were ready but you know I’m always up for helping the cause.
I was just about to email you and see if you’re ready to roll. Looks like it.
Most COALers write one per week; you’d set a record for being ahead of schedule.
The Ford 500 always from the exterior styling, reminded me of an updated 1986 to 1990 Ford Taurus. Or what the styling would have looked liked. They looked liked a good and practical car. Kind of a boring sedan but not overly styled like some of the other cars of the era. Kind of like a 2000s version of a 1970s Dodge Dart styled like a 1980s Taurus. The car had great visibility and that “blend in” styling in the parking lot. I’d love to drive one someday. A much better car than the 1996 to 2007 Taurus at least in terms of styling. I am surprised never did a “police package” with one but the Crown Vics were still selling well as fleet cars at the time.
Dutch1960, I’ve never driven or ridden in the car, but this is a wonderful valentine to everything I admire or (think I) like about the vehicle, or don’t car about. All the old-man stuff is fine, the 3.0 V6 is fine (car only a couple hundred pounds heavier than my wonderful Taurus wagon with the same engine), and so on. If I’m gonna buy a toy car, perhaps it should be one of these rather than a 1960s-70s Ford of some sort (though they’re getting harder to find in gently-used shape). Goodness, your column tempts me—-thanks for telling all about the up/downsides of ownership!
p.s. I was perfectly happy with the 4-speed automatic in my ’99 Taurus, but I’d love to drop the 6-speed in (as if it could), just to see the difference….
George, you will like the car if a “big car feel” with some precision is your goal. It rewards the driver who likes everything to be dynamically “right” but in a quiet and unobtrusive way. I have no opinion on the CVT transmission version, other than the six-speed automatic was well done and that is the one I would seek out.
I didn’t really stress it, but the “fit and finish” of the car is really something well done. Once one looks past the vastness of all the woven vinyl and cast plastic, one notices that they fit together well and tight, and things do not rattle loose or fall apart over time. With that said, this is often an “old person’s car”. Hold out, as I did, for a relatively low mileage example, gently used. They are out there.
Five Hundred debuted the same time as Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum, and slightly later the Charger, and it is clear what consumers preferred. I doubt Ford made money off this Volvo platform until the Explorer debuted for 2011.
I read that this was a car designed specifically for older drivers. The height of the roof allowed higher seating, which facilitated entry and egress. One article related that Ford had equipped their engineers with harnesses that restricted their range of movement, gloves that restricted finger dexterity, and even eyeglasses that reduced their visual acuity. All this was to reproduce that challenges that an older driver dealt with, and make the car’s design easier to live with. The joke was that some of those engineers were later inspired to build a Street Rod!
As a late Sixties age person myself, I can still get in and out of my Mustangs just fine. My truck is just fine except for the step up, which is still no problem. The easiest entry is in my Flex, which is considered the ideal car to put your elderly folks into the back seat.
I had a co worker who was in his early Seventies that drove a Honda S2000. I was watching his “process” of exiting the car. I remarked on that process, and he said that driving the car was worth it.
Just as much as the 1975-79 Chevy Nova based Cadillac Seville was very influential in the sheer look design of GM’s RWD B & C Bodied Downsized Four Door Sedan and later on the Redesigned similar sized to the Seville RWD G-Bodies (formerly RWD A-Bodies) and other American large size competitor sedan makes on the basis of design, the 1986-90 Ford Taurus design also served a similar purpose a decade later. The 2005-07 Ford Taurus design was heavily influenced by the mid-1980s Taurus look (which in essence was really its “spiritual” successor). Not only that but the redesigned 1992 Ford Crown Victoria and 2G Ford Scorpio also adopted the styling cues of the 1G Taurus. The Taurus also owes it design development to the smaller compact 1984 Ford Tempo as well and to dig deeper further the Ford Sierra.
Now the Ford Taurus along with the 2G Ford Scorpio.
Lastly the Ford Sierra (our Merkur XR4ti here in the States) and the Ford Tempo.
Yes, I believe the Ford Sierra and Audi 100 debuted about the same time, and much of Ford and VW styling for the next 20 or more years were derivatives of these two cars. I liked this styling when I was young in my 20’s but now that I am pushing 60, I prefer the traditional Ford styling, which the 2010 Taurus hearkened to, but unfortunately resulted in a less roomy cabin and poor visibility.
The Australian EB Falcon had the same front end as the Scorpio (but was otherwise quite different).
I’m glad I stumbled on this article. Within the last twenty years I’ve driven nothing but Nissan and Toyota. Altima and Sienna. Recently, a family member donated a 2005 Five Hundred with only ninety thousand miles. It was owned by elderly folks who drove only a few miles each day. Prior to accepting the vehicle I ran a Carfax report and the car was fine. No crashes and consistent routine service from a Ford dealer. I received the vehicle and it was in mint condition. I had my mechanic inspect it and the only thing the vehicle needed was a electronic throttle. That’s it. The Five Hundred seems to be a very well made vehicle. A vehicle that’s eighteen years old and still runs well.
My step-father looked at the 500 in its first year. We both thought that the 3.0 engine was too small for the car. He bought the Fusion instead. Ford then added the 3.5 engine, but the reputation was done. So they reskinned it and renamed it Taurus. But it was the same car underneath. I never like the name 500. It was always a trim level, like Galaxie 500, not a name it itself.
I drove many of these and Montegos, the related Freestyle, and the updated Taurus/Taurus X/Sable back then due to their insane rental car sales. I always thought they were inoffensive yet totally unremarkable, but really dug the improvements made in the 2008 update – better interior and engine, what I considered better styling. The Taurus X was a really well packaged vehicle. The interior space on the sedans was mind blowing. The AWD sedans available before the switch to the 3.5l had a very fragile CVT. As they aged, the leading edge of the rear wheel well was an area prone to very bad rust, even at only 6 or 7 years of age. The rapid depreciation meant they left the road quickly.
That particular CD6 head unit is famous for breaking when full of CDs.
The 3.0 had its own design issues, with warping plastic intakes and hard to replace alternators, but the internal water pump on the 3.5 is the big issue, which means 13+ hour timing chain replacement when it leaks, possible oil-water mixture due to a shared gasket, and other fun things. Supposedly, they moved it internal to fit the bigger 3.5 block in the engine bays of the Fusion and Five Hundred and their cohorts, which had been designed for the 3.0 Duratec. It also affects more recent 3.7s in Ford and Mazda products.
It seems after the flop of the oval design of Taurus the designers got really angry and frustrated to the point of run out of creativity, so the best avenge were copy other hated creation from Europe, the Ford Scorpio, making it even more unattractive and put it in an unknown segment between a Taurus and a Crown Victoria, with a confusing name and the tail lights of the Brazilian Ford Fiesta sedan. It’s done, maybe they couldn’t find anything else to spoil the car career.
My father-in-law had a 2005 model. He really enjoyed that car.
However, the one thing that bothered him was that Ford had NOT placed a trunk lock cylinder on the OUTSIDE of the trunk.
Yeah he had the fob, and the buttons on the door, but he really missed the key hole !!!
..Just to save a couple of bucks for the ford bean counters….
In 2008 when it was renamed Taurus, Ford displayed one at the NY auto show that hit a wall @ 35mph. These were incredibly safe cars! Look how well it held up…the Volvo heritage really shows!
I called mine “a Volvo in drag”. The Volvo-ness showed up in the T-bone accident. The hit was tremendous, but you could follow the paths of the impact forces and see how it was all dissipated through the car, without intrusion into the passenger compartment. The car was like an anvil, in that situation.
And sometimes, said the penis, a Freud is not a cigar.
My 2007 five hundred is still running great at 340,000 miles. I had to replace a fuel pump at around 170,000 but that is the only problem I have had. I still get 28 mpg highway in warm weather. It drops to 25 mpg in winter & shorter trips. I love this vehicle!! Also, I have never replaced the battery!
The biggest problem is that the car spent the first 10 years of it’s life in the Twin Cities area where there was a lot of salt used in winter so, it’s a bit rusty.