30 years ago Ford introduced its groundbreaking new sedan the Ford Taurus. At the time it was a futuristic looking car that was unlike any other American car.
And people bought it in droves and it received many accolades too including 1986 Motor Trend Car of the Year. That car changed American family sedans and Ford literally sold millions of them.
The local connection is that every year the Taurus has been produced they have been made right here on the far south side at Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant at 130th & Torrence. That also happens to be Fords longest continuously operating plant, cars have been manufactured there since 1924 going back to the Model A & Model T.
As a native far south sider we all knew about that plant and there was always a pride of the cars that rolled off that assembly line and any time you crossed the bridge and went down Torrence you looked in the lot to see what was being made.
Ford’s history with the Taurus has been an interesting one, the first two generations of Taurus which spanned its first 10 years generated more than 3 million cars. At one point it was the best-selling car in America in the early 1990’s.
My wife had a second generation Taurus (1995), when I met her and that car was rock solid (and she loved it), though as it reached 12 years old and well over 100,000 miles the transmission died.
I must admit that car’s replacement, a fourth generation Taurus (2005), was not of the same build quality, its engine light was on as much as the headlights and just not reliable and soon after Ford retired the Taurus for the full sized Five Hundred. That car was also made at the Chicago Assembly Plant.
But the Taurus was reborn in 2008 as the next generation of the Five Hundred and that was a good car (my father in law had one), and that brings us to the current generation Taurus that came out in 2010 which is the Ford flagship model.
I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite Taurus, the SHO, which stood for Super High Output. The SHO edition of the Taurus debuted in its first generation in 1989. It was called the “poor man’s BMW”, but there was nothing poor about it. It had a Yamaha six cylinder engine that put out 220 horsepower and you could only get it with a five speed manual transmission.
There was not an automatic transmission option on the Taurus SHO until 1993 into its second generation.
The third generation SHO (which came out in 1996), had the only V8 offered for the SHO (or any Taurus for that matter), it rivaled the Chevrolet Impala SS but after that generation the SHO did not move on with the new Taurus in 2000.
It wasn’t until the current generation that hit the streets in 2010 did the SHO reappear, with the EcoBoost V6 and 365 horsepower. It seemed like a stretch at the time because the SHO was over $40,000 new but now in the secondary market there are decent SHO’s of this generation under $ 20,000.
The other variation on the Taurus was the Taurus X and that was a wagon that was really a slightly redesigned Ford FreeStyle. The Freestyle was from 2005-07 and the Taurus X ran in 2008 & 2009. The big different between the Taurus X and Freestyle was the engine. Originally there was the 3.0 engine barely making 200 horsepower and when the Taurus name came back it brought the 3.5 liter V6 making 260 horsepower, along with some chrome. Those ‘08 & ’09 Taurus are underrated, good looking cars, quick and comfortable and really affordable now.
As for the future of the Taurus, the current model is five years old (still looks good), and there’s an international model in the works, not sure about domestically, hopefully this hometown car will keep rolling along.
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