Piston Slap: SHO Me My Next Car?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Bob writes:

Sajeev,

Thanks for all the wasted ti…,er reading enjoyment you and TTAC provide. My Q has to do with “plan on keeping, or start looking for a replacement?”

Bought my ’93 SHO in 1996, a 5-sp w/28k miles. It just rolled over 140,000 (I’m an over-the-road truck driver). Has been a great, fun car. Only major problem was a radiator leak & attendant CPS failure.

Downers: Headliner and driver’s seat uph need replacing. Clearcoat peeling. Worried about parts avail, transmission (no problems so far, but “maintenance-free ATF?”). Still has original clutch. Car is 22 yrs old. Etc…

Upside: Just had front susp renewed, doesn’t burn oil, still drives great. Etc…

So: used Crown Vic, or used Miata, when the time comes?

Sorry this is so wordy/rambling, but hate to think of you & that cymbal.

Sajeev answers:

Oh yes! The Edelbrock cymbal is still on my drum rack, but I’ve had no time to “work” on it. And that’s thanks to folks like you!

You have a two-part question, and the first answer is you need a newer car. While an SHO has a tricky motor (timing belt and valve lash work every 60,000 miles IIRC), any old Taurus won’t be relaxing and reliable: it will always need work, even if it may never leave you stranded without days/weeks/months of advance notice. You’ll shell out big bucks on the paint and clutch alone.

About your next ride: some will consider the Miata vs. Crown Vic suggestion as insane, but I get it. The SHO is almost halfway between in size, number of cylinders, etc. And when you’ve already done the middle ground, it’s now time to go to the extreme!

Question is, which extreme?

I’d go for the Miata if you can keep the SHO around to carry people/cargo. Depending on where you live, a FWD sedan with a solid roof helps in bad rain/snow. If you go Crown Vic, the SHO is pointless. Which is a problem.

Think about it: the SHO is essentially worthless and the next owner is likely to kill it. I reckon it will be Chinese scrap metal less than a year after the sale. Not cool: cars with intrinsically fantastic yet obscure design like the Taurus SHO deserve to live. Having owned this car for almost 20 years now, are you dumb enough to see it my way? To restore this future classic?

If so, you will also be dumb enough to buy a Crown Vic to make a collection of cool yet understated American sedans! And for those that find this notion silly, I suggest watching this video about 10 times.

What was that about not wanting a collection of Ford sedans?

[Image: Shutterstock user Gengwit Wattakawigran]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • 95_SC 95_SC on Jul 22, 2014

    Well i'll add to the crazy talk by saying find a mint Tempo V6 and drop the SHO engine in. Now, back to the real world. I love driving the SHO, but I despise any time I've spent under the hood of one. It's hard to pin down a modern spiritual successor to this car (certainly nothing that has worn the SHO badge since). I can attest that the Miata is downright simple to work on. It also hits the sweet spot of being usable as a day to day car, provided you don't need a back seat of course. The trunk is usable, even the early cars. But there are compromises. Were I going to daily drive an NA or NB again I'd shell out the grand for a hardtop. The Crown Vic is another animal. My buddy has the Panther Love. I don't get it. If I were looking at something like that I think I'd go with a Fox Body T-Bird. Old, yes, but simple to work on. My flavor would be the 87-88 Turbo with a 5 Speed. The 2.3 Turbo has some power potential. They are comfy as well. An E30 BMW would work too but good luck finding a decent one. If you were to go newish, perhaps a Mazdaspeed 3 or a Focus or Fiesta ST?

  • TrenchFoot TrenchFoot on Jul 22, 2014

    Nathan Wind would have never driven a Miata, just not enough room for his sideburns and 'stache. Before he passed away, I'm sure he was driving a Crown Vic or a Marauder. #pantherlove

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.
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