January 8, 2008

SHO Me The Ford Taurus Wagon, Baby!

97_ford_taurus_wagon.jpg

I don't quite know how to explain... But lately I've been having these strange feelings welling up whenever I see... I mean, I totally mocked my I-banker friend who bought one in 1999 to keep in the city [they'd just had their second kid and had sacrificed their dining room in order to not move to Westchester for another year.]

My Hertz profile has said, "Prefers Camry" for more than a decade.

But I can't deny it any longer. I find myself being seduced by the sexy, almost extraplanetary curves of the third generation Taurus Wagon. Purely on a design basis, I actually loved the controversial oval all-over styling, including the dashboard, but even if you didn't, it didn't matter, because you were probably renting it, not buying. Once the knuckleheaded Motor Trend crowd started shouting, Ford got cowed into toning down the Taurus' ovoid features; so the best-looking designs are the early ones, from 1996-7.

So yeah, it turns out to be the perfect rental car, but also the perfect city car, in the sense that you probably don't stress too much over potholes or parking it on the street. [Or is that just vestigial rental car thinking?]

How do these things drive? I honestly can't remember. How do they hold up? Were these things built to last? I doubt it. Do they get any love at all? [see "prefers Camry" comment above]. Did they ever have enough options to make them actually nice, not just fine? What about an SHO? Did they ever make a wagon version? Because that could be sweet.

v8showagon_photo.jpg

D'oh, I shouldn't have asked:

The vehicle pictured here is a one-of-a-kind SHOwagon built in California in late 1998 or 1999.
I have been trying to collect details of the build and the history, but have not had much success. Here is what I know so far. The SHOwagon was made by welding the front of a 1998 SHO with the back of a regular Taurus wagon. According to stories, a brand new '98 SHO was totaled on a test drive. It was hit hard in the rear. Someone came up with the idea to use the front of this car with the back of a 1997 wagon. Both vehicles were sectioned and welded together near the B pillar and sunroof. For added structural stability, subframe connectors were welded underneath. It was finished for the 1999 SHO convention in Atlanta, GA ... the 10th anniversary of the Taurus SHO...

As far as I know, this is the only Gen III (1996-1999) SHO wagon ever made. Do you have any information on another?

A quick check on eBay reveals 1997 Taurus SHO's for $3-5,000. And wagons are even less. Hypothetically, couldn't you create another Gen 3 SHO Wagon for what, $15,000? $20,000? $20,200 with the optional rear-facing third seat?

Either this is one of the sweetest yet-to-be-realized station wagon projects ever, or I'm having some kind of MBA road warrior Stockholm Syndrome-tinged flashback. If I start trying to order room service from the doorman, I guess we'll know which it is.

V8 SHO Wagon [v8showagon.com]
Bonus: the 1997 Ford Santa Fe concept car, built on a Taurus Wagon with the 3.4L SHO V8 [v8showagon.com]

12 Comments

I was in Japan at the time that car came out and over there, the wagon was the "cool young dad" car... I remember seeing them at the dealer lowered with ground effects and big wheels, which actually made them look kind of cool. (If you recall the stock version, it had wheels that didn't fill up the enormous wheel wells...)

One of my wife's co-workers had one, and as salesmen in Japan often use their own car and get compensated for mileage, it was widely hated by the boss as it got worse mileage than pretty much any other car they had ever seen...

I'm with you - I always thought the Taurus was cool after seeing them as the cop cars on Robocop. Honestly, I thought the SHO was just a performance option with some subtle stock ground effects. So, I don't see why it would cost that much to buy a SHO and switch the engine with the wagon model, assuming that they have the same engine mounts, or some adapter mounts are available...

I've always felt that instead of spending a ton of cash on a new vehicle, think of how slick you could make an older vehicle look and perform. In fact, I drive a 97 Voyager with dark tinted windows and Enkei wheels!

[the Gen3 SHO has a V8, the previous ones had a V6. But you're right, it shouldn't be too tough to transplant an SHO engine and drivetrain, though the SHO had the same automatic as the regular Taurus. 5-speed manuals went out with Conan O'Brien. (and yes, I'm just retyping from wikipedia) -ed.]

The Boy drives an old Taurus and it's ok. Utterly unremarkable. Of course, it's a 1991 sedan, grey with red interior like roughly 50% of all cars produced in 1991. We probably wouldn't have bought it if our old car hadn't died once and for all 4 days before the latest kid was born. I still walk past it looking for him and we have had it over a month.

I believe the SHOs were plagued by mechanical problems. Wiki says that Car and Driver also made a SHO wagon, out of a 2nd Gen by switching engines and the front end

One major drawback of the 1996 and newer Tauruses (Tauri?) is that if you are, say, a 6'4" guy the wagons provide absolutely no rear visibility, due to poorly placed columns.

My husband's parents (fellow NYC residents) are on their second Taurus wagon. First one lasted ten years...second one will probably last them until they can't drive anymore.

Pretty unremarkable car, IMHO. Feels kind of loose and cheap to me, but it's one of the few wagons left out there and it gets them up to NY State in the summers with plenty of room for their stuff.

[unremarkable is definitely one of the Taurus's most remarkable features. Frankly, my biggest hangup might be the fact that that street bookseller on Columbus ave & 68th st stores his entire inventory in a Taurus wagon, which he just drives around the corner to sell. -ed.]

The problem with the SHOs, either first, second or third gen, is that by modern standards their performance is pretty unremarkable. The third gen SHO (97-00, IIRC) had a V8, as you note, but the 3.4L V8 only made 235 hp. That was a fair amount then, but these days any decent 3.5L six (including Ford's) makes 250 plus. It was pretty thirsty, too (I had a couple of them). Not worth the trouble to try and retrofit one into a wagon. Plus, there were big problems with the V8s losing their cam chain sprockets, I believe.

Honestly, a much better bet is to buy a new Taurus X wagon. More power, a lot more space, probably better gas mileage, available AWD, and it seats 6 comfortably with room for luggage. It doesn't have the ovoid styling, but the interior is a lot nicer in terms of materials.

If you are going to start doing things with SHOs, what you want to do is either a) build a SHOgun (SHO V6 engine mid-mounted in a Festiva) or b) put a SHO V6 into a Merkur XR4Ti. Neither is a family vehicle, but both sound like great giggles.

[SHOgun. love it. I never followed SHO's at all, but even I heard about the camshaft problems. Frankly, I'd rather just refinish the interior of a regular Gen3 wagon with decent seats and materials and leave my retro-90's wagon barnstorming fantasies for the Audi B5 S4. -ed.]

I can't believe in 08 people are taliking about a SHO. Ok, I had an 89 for about 7 years and never had any problem with it except for motor mounts. I kept it incredibly clean, added low profile 18's and low production Italian rims. The car got comments everytime I parked it. I could light the front tires anytime. Loved the kidney bashing ride, stick, and how the rear wheel would hang off the ground if the incline was just steep enough on a turn (like a driverway). Traded it on a Cobra late one night. THe sales manager was not there and really bitched the sales guys out for giving me $6500. The next morning he saw it and told them it was worth more. My wife made me trade it and I regret it to this day.

Wow, I'm not a dad but I own a 1997 Mercury Sable Wagon, and like csubik said, I can't believe that people are dicussing the 1997-98 Taurus Wagon. I love my wagon, lol. I have a full sound system w/ a in-dash tv/dvd player, subwoofers, 2 MTX amplifiers, SolarGard 20% all around, 6000k Bosch HID lights and much much more. But the picture above inspired me to get a all black candy paint job and a set of 20" rims. Thanks for the love of this car!

Taurus' are turds. Have always been turds. I have been working on cars for 14 years and very few of cars hold up as poorly as the Taurus. The only thing I can figure is that the price point puts them into the hands of people who don't see them as anything more than transportation and treat it like dog shit. I do see the occasional one that is owned by grandpa and grandma and looks showroom new. As an absolute wagon lover, I don't think there is an uglier wagon out there. I do have to admit that to this day, I have a secret crush on SHO's. Don't tell my buddies!! I recently drove a Taurus X for a week as a rental and didn't mind it. Considerably overpriced but I loved having all of that room and a third row. Now that the Ford 500 has been rebadged as the Taurus, we'll see if they hold up any better than the previous generations.

I have a 2000 ford Taurus wagon with a 3.0 v6 S.V.T
ford told me it came with 215 hp i have put in a comp chip and a cold air induct now it should be at
280 hp i put a 50 hp chip and the cold air added 15 hp 1/4 mile time is in the high 15s 98 to 100 mpr this car is fast i raced a 1978 vette the vette owner was not happy. sorry about that chevy

Duder, I'm sorry you've only met Tauruses that are turds. I've got a '98 SE wagon, and compared to all the GM iron we used to buy, this thing has been a model of reliability, tight build, and great handling. Since we got it, it's only needed a starter, an alternator, and a mirror switch. Even with the cheap-o 145hp Vulcan, it still wins enough Stoplight Grands Prix. Lots of Toyota and Honda owners cannot keep up.

Frankly? Best car I've ever had the privilege to own.

I have an 01 Sable LS Premium Wagon (same as Taurus, slightly toned down fascia). It cost about 1/3 the price of a similar Volvo V70, FWD. My main criteria was a CAR (no mommy minivan or piggy SUV please)with a third row seat to sparate my 3 kids suitably. The fully loaded Sable with the 200 HP Duratec engine is a pleasure to drive and yes, it's no Audi nor is meant to be one. I picked it up for 5K with 37K on the clock from a dealer in CT, previous owner was literally a little old lady. Well worth the money and parts are dirt cheap. It's relatively fast too and a decent handler. Only gripe is the tranny which while reliable sometimes hunts for the right gear when I get on it. Otherwise, a perfect vehicle for my needs. I'd recommend one to anyone.

i have ford ,taurus wagon 1999 model ,3.0 liter ,v 6 engine .the car is very good.
but i have problem of BRAIN BOX.ples, can you help me and buy it and send it to me in NIGERIN? pls if possible you let me kwon the price and cost of shipping it to nigeria.
thanks

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