Project Taurus: Officially A New York State Resident!

The neighbors stopped to gawk at the 1986 Ford Taurus LX sedan as it sat in my driveway the weekend of February 21. Nearly everyone who visited my mechanic’s shop that Saturday asked about it too. And I’ve noticed drivers and onlookers give the car weird looks as it goes by. This West Coast interloper is officially a New York resident and it’s already making an impact in the Hudson Valley.

It will also be putting a dent into my wallet, but fundamentally this car is in extremely good condition. And worth every penny. The road to Philadelphia starts here.

When I last spoke about the Taurus, it was still in California, waiting to be picked up. The first window for pickup was February 8-9. Bill Gardner, the man who made this all possible, had been storing the Taurus at his house since picking it up. We were both in constant communication and fortunately the transport company didn’t mix anything up in terms of contact info. Unfortunately, the truck driver informed Bill that he could not pick up the Taurus on Sunday night because of conflicts with his other customers. Neither of us thought anything of it. Tuesday comes around and the transport company informs me that the driver cancelled the job. Turns out his truck broke down and he wasn’t being entirely honest about the situation to us or to the transport company. I’m sure higher end trucking companies employ their own drivers, but at the lower end they’re all subcontractors.

Fortunately, the transport company found another truck within an hour. Even better was the fact that this truck had two drivers, which meant at worst, the Taurus would get here only one day later than originally planned. It sounded good to me. The above picture is from February 15. The Taurus was finally on its way!

Sure enough, the car arrived on the following Wednesday. The drivers were originally supposed to get here in the morning, but a flat tire delayed them. It was well after dark when the truck pulled in to my development. They actually left the truck at the end of the road because they thought they would get it stuck, which I found a bit odd. That meant just the Taurus pulled up to the house, complete with the classic Ford “whiirrrr!” of the power steering. It was finally here!

As a quick aside, those are two new garage doors. We decided to go for new ones after my little incident back in December. They were actually installed a day before the Taurus got here. Sure enough, they retain heat a lot better than the old ones. I work in the room directly above the Taurus and the thermometer registers about 4 degrees higher on average than it did when the old doors were up.

But I digress. Because of the bitter cold I was far less enthused than I should have been about the car finally making it to New York. The car was also extremely filthy, which didn’t help things either. After looking over the car to make sure everything was fine, I signed off on the paperwork. The Taurus was here and safely in its stable. Huzzah!

The next morning I headed over to my insurance company’s office and got the Taurus insured. State Farm has a classic car policy and does not discriminate as long as the car in question is over 25 years old. That enabled me to get comprehensive and collision on the Taurus for only $220 per year, which was far less than I was anticipating. Next stop: the DMV. I had not prepared for the reality that the DMV would be an absolute nightmare, mostly because I got my REAL ID compliant driver’s license when my old one expired in 2016. But seemingly half the county stood inside the waiting area when I got there, and in that moment I knew I was in for a long wait. It only took about three hours for me to find out that I made an error on some of the paperwork. I was not a happy camper.

To make a long story short, I corrected the issue and headed over Friday morning. Three hours later and the Taurus officially became a New York State resident! This was the first time I became truly excited about owning the Taurus. Naturally, I decided to slap the plates on to get it washed. Unfortunately, while the car cleaned up very well, it became apparent that the Taurus didn’t make it to New York unscathed. At some point during the trip the truck must have encountered a pretty nasty snow storm. And afterwards ice definitely drifted off and smacked right into the car. The hood, roof, and trunk all have a number of scratches on them. The good news is that none of them penetrated the clearcoat, so I think they’ll be easy to eliminate. And I can’t fault the drivers because the car was so dirty it was impossible to tell how bad they were, or that they were scratches at all.

Things were a bit of a mixed bag. But it felt great to drive the car and I could feel everyone’s eyes turn to my car as it cruised through traffic. My mechanic was actually able to fit me in on Saturday too. The good news: there’s absolutely no rust underneath the car and it’s had a lot of parts replaced within the last year or so. It would be unfair for me to say there’s bad news considering the car is essentially a unicorn at this point, so here is stuff that needs to be addressed: The oil level sensor needs to be replaced. And some springs and o-rings around the radiator should be swapped out for newer components. Something is leaking all over the lower part of the engine and the oil and transmission fluid need to be replaced too. When at idle, the car makes a ticking sound about every eight seconds.

I recently went to my local tire shop for two new tires and an alignment. Fortunately, the owner recommended the exact tires I wanted, the General Altimax RT43 all-seasons, and they only charged about $10 more for both than the price offered by Tire Rack. Plus, their price for new struts all-around was good and they won’t charge me for an additional alignment when I have them installed week. The car already drives much better and I can’t wait to experience what it’s like with four brand new struts because the front ones are on their last legs and the rears probably aren’t too far behind.

There’s some other issues as well. I can’t open the driver’s door from inside. The controls for the electronic instrument cluster are dead. The number eight fuse gets shorted out by operation of the power mirrors for some reason. The gas gauge doesn’t work either, but I put some Chevron Techron in the tank so we’ll see how that goes. I also think the washer motor for the wipers are dead. All things considered, none of these issues are insurmountable. And obviously there’s a lot to love about the car. I found the keyless entry code and have been using it quite a bit. The seats are super comfortable and Ford’s Premium Audio System is surprisingly great.

In any event, that’s the state of the Taurus right now. It’s going to cost me a bit of money to get this thing ready for car show season. But based on how people have already reacted to it, it seems like it’s gonna be a hit. I can’t wait for next month!