Junkyard Find: 1987 Ford Taurus LX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1987 ford taurus lx
Ford sold just a hair under two million first-generation Tauruses during the 1986 through 1991 model years, so these cars still show up regularly in the car graveyards I frequent. I won’t bother documenting an early Taurus at Ewe Pullet unless it’s something interestingly rare and/or weird— say, an MT-5 model with manual transmission or a factory-hot-rod SHO or a Groovalicious Purple Princess of Peace wagon— and today’s Junkyard Find certainly qualifies. This wretched-looking hooptie began life as a top-trim-level Taurus LX with just about every possible option, found in a Denver-area self-service yard recently.
The LX was the king of Tauruses in 1987, lording it over the lowly GLs, MT-5s, and Ls. The MSRP on this one started at $14,613 (about $38,410 in 2022 dollars), while the Taurus L sedan listed at $10,491 ($27,575 now). But, as we’ll see, this car cost far more than just $14,613 when the first owner signed on the line which is dotted.
We’ll start with the digital instrument panel. I didn’t even know the Taurus had such a thing until I discovered a 1987 ad for the Aromalyte cigarette-lighter-powered air freshener, which featured a rad 1980s dude behind the wheel of what was clearly a Ford equipped with a digital dash. This “Electronic Instrument Cluster” cost 351 bucks extra ($922 today), and fell somewhere between the staid Toyota Cressida digital dash and the video-game-style Subaru XT digital dash on the 1980s Digital Dash Silliness Spectrum. This is the first Taurus digital cluster I’ve ever seen in person, but I didn’t buy it for my hoard collection.
Why didn’t I buy it, you ask? This poor car was completely trashed by the time its days on the road ended, and I have enough experience with fragile 1980s Ford electronics to know that there’s no way a complex assembly like that cluster could have survived years of polarity-reversed jump-starts, projectile-vomiting passengers, angry fists pounding the dash during traffic jams, neighbors’ glue-sniffing cousins replacing gauge light bulbs using only Vise-Grips for the entire procedure, hantavirus-vector rodents nesting in the wiring harness, and all the other abuses that must have taken place during this car’s final years.
At some point, the final owner parked this Taurus in a lot whose owner called a towing company, and that’s all she wrote.
Someone did put a fair amount of work into a three-tone rattlecan paint job, which demonstrates a certain level of affection for this once-illustrious Ford. Did it have a name?
Air conditioning was standard equipment on the ’87 LX, but you had to pay $183 extra ($481 today) for these electronic controls.
If you wanted to do justice to the amazing music of 1987, you couldn’t get the LX’s base AM/FM radio (or get 206 bucks back for the radio-delete choice). This $137 ($360 in 2022) auto-reverse cassette deck with Dolby was the ticket.
If you wanted a power antenna on your ’87 Taurus, you had to pay 76 dollars ($200 now) and you had to use this switch to operate that antenna.
Ford’s distinctive keyless-entry system had been around since 1980 (and still exists today), and this car has it. It cost 202 frogskins ($530 today).
My reference books don’t break down the contents of Ford’s numerous “Value Option Packages” for the ’87 Taurus, but I’m sure the power windows and locks came in every one of them. If purchased individually, the cost came to $491 ($1,290 after inflation).
Ford zealot Sajeev Mehta tells me that these cornering lights are among the rarest of all options on the early Taurus, and he experienced great sadness when I sent him photos of this car. Since they were only 68 spondulix ($179 now), I don’t understand why more Taurus buyers didn’t get them.
On and on the options and upgrades go, and I didn’t even check for stuff like the extended-range fuel tank or heavy-duty suspension.
We can assume that the out-the-door cost of this car must have been pretty close to that of a new Lincoln Mark VII by the time the dust settled over the options list.
One thing that didn’t cost extra on the ’87 Taurus LX was this 3.0-liter Vulcan V6, rated at 140 horsepower. Lesser Tauruses got the 2.5-liter HSC, which was two-thirds of a 1962 Thriftmaster straight-six.
The only Tauruses to get manual transmissions were the El Cheapo MT-5 (available only for the 1985 through 1988 model years) and the high-performance 1989– 1995 SHO. In 1987, the LX sedan and all Taurus wagons got a four-speed automatic with overdrive, while the other two-pedal Tauruses received a three-speed automatic (unless their buyers forked over a stack of 672 greenbacks— 1,765 current greenbacks, that is— for that extra overdrive forward gear).
It appears that this car was sold new in this area, at a dealership about 13 miles to the northwest of its final parking spot just south of Denver. The Crusher is conveniently located, as you’d expect.
My guess is that this car was treated well while in the hands of its first through third owners, but its value hit triple digits about a decade back and commenced a long downward spiral into its current condition.
As good as this car looks, it won’t take you to the cleaners… unless you want to go there.
The Taurus did look futuristic in 1986 and 1987 (though Audi beat Ford to the flush-windows rounded look).
We get a brief glimpse of the digital dash in this ad.For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, take a look at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.[Images by the author]
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3 of 35 comments
  • CaddyDaddy CaddyDaddy on Jul 12, 2022

    As deservedly bad as the Chrysler Co. Ultradrive was, the AXOD should rate on the same level of garbage slush boxes. I did 3 gearboxes in 120K mi. Glad I had the extended warranty, I'm sure there was a pink slip for the actuarial department estimating extended warranty premiums for the Taurus / Sable models. 3.8L FUEL INJECTION - that is another pile of steaming head gasket blowing manure to discuss.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Jul 13, 2022

    Ford Taurus hit it out of the park blockbuster car of the future.

    • Bunkie Bunkie on Aug 10, 2022

      And the wagon versions were magic. I had three of the things (with the rear seats) and they gave great service. The Vulcan 3.0 V6 was unkillable and I always seemed to get 25mpg no matter what I was doing.

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.