Ford introduced the high-performance version of the Taurus sedan— the SHO— in the 1989 model year, and enthusiasts rejoiced over the cheap new factory hot rod that blew away far more expensive European sedans. I’ve documented quite a few discarded SHOs during my junkyard travels, but this is the first ’92 I’ve photographed. Why is 1992 special for the SHO? Simple: It’s the final year for the mandatory five-speed manual transmission. Here’s one of those rare cars in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.
I’m of the opinion that a true auto enthusiast is never content with the status of their fleet. A wandering eye is constantly looking for the next toy, the next project, the next opportunity to flip for a profit. I’m no different — I’m figuratively digging in the couch cushions every time a funky car pops up on eBay or Craigslist.
But those cushions are bare. Two kids tend to consume every spare penny. I’m trying to put away cash for a potential cheap toy, but the classics I really want have ballooned in value well beyond a reasonable figure. I’m thinking I can scrape together about five thousand dollars to buy a new toy for the garage.
Every once in awhile, somebody writes in to Ask Bark with a question that makes me check my own bank account to see if I can afford my own recommendation. Today is one of those times. Sit back and relax while you read about our friend’s quest for a more powerful grocery-getter, and then see if you share in my envy.
I am currently leasing a 2014 Mazda6, and the lease will be ending in mid-July. I’m in my early 30s with two kids. One of them will be in a rear-facing child seat for the next year and a half, and the other is in a front-facing seat, so I need something that is big enough for daycare pickup, Costco runs and short trips. My wife has a Nissan Murano for when we need more space, and I have a motorcycle, which may soon be sold and replaced with an older Miata.
I work remotely, so I don’t commute on a daily basis, but I do a 2+ hour each way trip into the actual office every other week. I’ve owned a 2000 Ford Focus, 2006 Mazda3, and the 2014 Mazda6, so I would like something with a bit more power this time.
While the Ford Taurus has been the most numerous vehicle in American self-service wrecking yards for at least 15 years, most of the time they are the background against which the more interesting cars stand out. Only the SHO version seems worthy of inclusion in this series, and until today we’ve seen just just this ’96 Taurus SHO with V8. These cars have been very affordable for quite some time, but there remains enough of an enthusiast base to keep most of the survivors on the road. Here’s one that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area back in August.
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.
It’s not much of a shock to find that the most dominant team of the 2011 24 Hours of LeMons season, the seemingly black-flag-proof Hong Norrth Mazda MX-3, ended today’s race session at Eagles Canyon in P1. A lot can happen tomorrow, though, so unhatched chickens aren’t being counted yet. The day’s events featured plenty of Texas-style ventilated engine blocks and panicky trips to the junkyard as well.
There are some fast LeMons cars that suffer from a single glaring weakness that knocks them out of the running after maintaining a lead for hour after hour. For example, the Acura Integra and Honda Prelude and their fragile head gaskets, or the Toyota MR2’s chronic engine-cooling/oiling woes. The Ford Taurus SHO, however, is constructed entirely from weaknesses; the transmissions explode, the engines throw rods (when they aren’t too busy spinning bearings and/or burning valves), the brakes overheat, and the suspensions crumble like pretzel sticks in a trash compacter. Wheel bearings, electrical components, you name it. But when a well-driven SHO doesn’t fall apart, very few LeMons-priced cars can catch it on a race course.
After a grueling all-day battle of thrown rods, car fires, and busted suspensions at MSR Houston, we never expected to see a Ford Taurus SHO with a Rat Patrol roof gunner on the same lap as a bar-sponsored ’84 Volkswagen Rabbit. That’s how things sorted out after the first race session of the fourth annual Yeehaw It’s Texas 24 Hours of LeMons.
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