Rare Rides: The Spectacular Original Ford Taurus From 1987
Today we go further back in history, and look at an excellently preserved 1987 Taurus LX.
By the early Eighties, things were changing across the American automobile landscape. Japanese offerings were gaining traction, downsizing was de rigueur, and front-wheel drive platforms were a siren’s song from the future. Customers and the government also made a point to care about fuel economy, which meant the implementation of more aerodynamic styling. Specific to its case, Ford was also losing money big time. Losses of $3 billion accumulated between 1979 and 1982.
Given the above, Ford realized it needed an innovative, quality made, clean-sheet replacement for one of the most important segments of the era: the midsize family sedan. The Taurus project started in the early Eighties, and Ford shelled out billions of dollars on its new mainstream idea. By 1985 the Taurus was production-ready. LTD out, Taurus in!
The new car was kept almost fully under wraps until it was previewed in 1985. Curious Ford customers who visited the showroom to check out the new-for-’86 Taurus were delighted with the modern car presented to them. Taurus and its slightly more fancy (and lightbar) sibling the Mercury Sable were offered in sedan and wagon variants, and all shared the same 106-inch wheelbase. Powering all first-gen DN5 platform cars were three different engines. At the bottom end was a 2.5-liter inline-four, available only through 1990. A 3.0-liter Vulcan V6 was optional in sedans, but standard in wagons through 1990. Top of the line was the 3.8-liter Essex V6, but it was not available until 1988. The 3.8 became the standard engine for the wagon in ’88, but always remained an option for Taurus sedan. Separate for SHO only was the 3.0-liter SHO V6, by Yamaha. The vast majority of non-SHO Taurus models were equipped with a three- or four-speed automatic depending on model and year.
However, Ford intended Taurus to appeal to a wide price audience. A base MT-5 trim featured minimal equipment, mandatory four-cylinder engine, and a five-speed manual. That model proved very unpopular and was dropped after 1988. The lowest common trim Taurus was the L, while the midlevel GL garnered the largest share of sales. Top of the line was the LX, which was never offered with a four-cylinder engine.
Taurus was an instant hit and shifted over 236,000 examples in its first model year. That number was the lowest sales year, and by the end of the first model’s run in 1991, Ford racked up over 2,000,000 sales of the Taurus. The Sable chipped in with another 669,000 sales. An incredibly important car for Ford and the family car class, Taurus made a lasting impression on the car industry and set several precedents for the family sedan.
Today’s time machine Rare Ride was available for less than 24 hours on Craigslist in Detroit. Owned until very recently by its original owner (a Ford engineer), it has just 99,000 miles. In spectacular condition – especially considering its location – the LX asked $2,400. Pictures here.
H/t to former TTAC contributor Sajeev Mehta for posting this Rare Ride on Facebook.
18726543 on Jan 18, 2021
My first car (the hand-me-down, not the first car I ever bought) was a 1989 Taurus. It was purchased used from a local buy-here-pay-here in about 1994 I think. My parents were deciding between the '89 Taurus and an '87 Maxima that was also on the lot. I often think about how things would've been different had they chosen the Maxima. I started driving the car in 1998 when I turned 16. It had the 3.8L and every single option you could get except the SHO engine. It had the digital dash with MPH/KPH button, speed alarm (to set a chime if you passed a certain speed), inflatable lumbar support, climate control...you name it, it had it. I think I acquired the car with about 90k miles on it and it had already blown a head gasket by then. The trans was fine though. The bassist in my band drove an '03 for many years and commuted up and down I-270 in it daily despite it pushing 230k miles. It was in rough shape with the typical broken rear springs and abysmal exterior appearance. He took absolute minimal care of the vehicle and it just kept on going which was lucky for him because the list of repairs he could actually afford pretty much ended at "headlight bulb". He eventually wound up trading it in on a 2013 Rogue. I didn't ask what he paid, but I'm sure he got taken by a very long payment term.
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