Junkyard Find: 1996 Ford Taurus SHO

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The Ford Taurus has been among the most numerous of junkyard inmates for nearly 20 years now, and a sprinkling of Yamaha-engined SHO versions show up among the bread-and-butter commuter Taurii. However, the third-gen Taurus SHO, with its 235-horse V8, is much rarer than the earlier V6 SHOs; in fact, this weirdly purple car I found in Denver is the first V8 SHO I’ve seen in the junkyard for at least a few years.

The 1989-95 Taurus SHO was very quick, if fragile; we’ve even seen several SHOs win 24 Hours of LeMons races over the years. The V8 SHO was also quick, but engine problems fed most of these cars to The Crusher a long time ago. On top of that, you couldn’t get this car with a manual transmission, presumably because Ford didn’t have a non-slushbox transaxle that could survive behind the Cosworth/Yamaha V8.

Sure, it blew up early and often, but just look at that engine!

Ford took a big gamble with the oval-centric restyling of the 1996 Taurus, and it didn’t really pay off; it wasn’t long before the Taurus got the rectangular back window of the Sable and went through a general appearance de-radicalization program.

Should we miss the odd vehicle colors of the early-to-middle 1990s?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Rutlefan1 Rutlefan1 on Jan 24, 2014

    Changing the rear plugs or coils wasn't bad once you'd been back there once. Wouldn't trust a dealer to do it though; I heard more than one story of someone being charged for both banks only to find only the front had been done.

  • Rutlefan1 Rutlefan1 on Jan 24, 2014

    I've owned many a nice sports car, and a few sport sedans incl a Gen I SHO and a '98 SVT Contour, and yet the car I miss most is a '96 Charcoal Gray Metallic SHO I had until a family van purchase pushed it out of the picture. Wasn't a "fun" car (use another car for that), but it was a beautiful car for freeway cruising and the daily commute. Small V8 without much power by today's standards but it was smooth and sounded fantastic. Spend $1K to weld the cam sprockets and add an extra trans oil cooler, and you've got a reliable and long-lasting drive train. The cars were also really well-made fit and finish-wise, with impressive details, esp the '96s before they were de-contented ('99s were hit the hardest). I also love the early '60s War of the Worlds styling (particularly the back lights on the SHO). Only thing I didn't like, besides the lack of a MTX, was that skate board on the trunk. A nice lip spoiler or none at all would have worked better. Anyway, because of the eccentric styling and the cam failures, an under-appreciated car.

  • Kosmo I, for one, and maybe only one, would buy a 5.0 L, stickshift variant of the sedan/hatchback that is Ford's "Not A Mustang EV" tomorrow.I'd buy the sportwagon version yesterday.
  • Akear I am counting the days when Barra retires. She has been one long nightmare for GM. People don't realize the Malibu outsells all GM EVs combined.
  • Redapple2 you say; most car reviewers would place it behind the segment stalwarts from Honda and Toyota,........................... ME: Always so. Every single day since the Accord / Camry introduction.
  • Akear GM sells only 3000 Hummer EVs annually. It is probably the worst selling vehicle in GM history.
  • Amwhalbi I agree, Ajla. This is theory, not reality - hence my comment that Americans don't like hatchbacks. But one of my neighbors bought one of the last Regal hatchbacks that were available for sae, and it is a darn nice car. I still think the idea makes sense, even if history is proving me wrong. And my sister does have a Legacy, which rides a bit higher than my Sonata, and that also is an excellent driver. Even if the general public doesn't concur with me.