The Ford Taurus SHO; Was it the First Real American Sports Sedan?

When you are one of the world’s first automakers and founded by the man who invented the assembly line process for mass production it might feel a bit like an insult to see Americans falling in love with the BMW models of the late 1980s and early 1990s.  At least that is how I view the reaction and feelings Ford had as a company when the BMWs were making their splash at this time.  In response to the 5 Series Ford chose to create a car that would become somewhat of a folk tale that certainly made the automotive world take pause.

This car was the Taurus SHO which came in as a sports sedan with a powerful engine from Yamaha, a sports suspension and a manual transmission.  The first year the SHO was offered was in 1989 and the only knock the car took was the lack of an automatic transmission, which was later corrected for the second generation.  Once the automatic was added the Taurus SHO was a huge hit and those who wanted a sports sedan to tote their families around in had a tough choice to select between the BMW offerings and this Taurus.

There were many who drove the Taurus SHO, especially once the automatic was added that couldn’t believe they had a car that could meet the needs of those who wanted a sports car as well as one that is great as a family car.  This car was capable, sporty, quick and agile in order to be the American version of a sports sedan that we all wanted to drive and gave Ford the signature offering that allowed them to thumb their noses at BMW and the 5 Series that seemed to cloud the market.

Since we haven’t heard these kinds of accolades for the SHO in a long time, what has happened to the Taurus SHO?  The fourth generation of the SHO became something that the SHO was not supposed to be, a highway cruiser.  If we wanted a highway cruiser in the Taurus, any of the other models would do just fine, but this model turned on us and changed to become a comfort ride that is more at home on Sunday drives in the country than it is as a sports sedan that we all fell in love with.

It’s really a shame the SHO has come to be a cruiser and not the bruiser it was born to be.  Hopefully the future of the Taurus SHO will bring back this performance based design and give us the car we all fell in love with originally.  In this day of hybrid motors and highly tuned automatic transmissions it’s possible the SHO could be brought back to its manual transmission roots and give us a sporty Taurus that is fun to drive and lets a full driving experience be enjoyed, but as the Taurus as a model has turned to comfort over performance this might not be in the very near future at all.

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