Ford Taurus SHO: Performance with Style!

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The Ford Taurus SHO (Super High Output) was introduced in the 1989 model year. The SHO was introduced as a sporty/luxury sedan and boasted a Yamaha 220 hp 200 ft-lbs torque 3.0L V6 and was originally only available with a 5-speed manual transaxle. It was a project for the Ford Mustang SVO development team which had succeeded in acquiring a budget and was looking for an existing car platform to build a 4-door sports sedan. They settled on the Taurus platform because of the similarity of the body to a BMW.

The Ford SVO group outsourced the SHO engine to Yamaha with the target design specification of 210 horsepower and 190 foot-pounds of torque. Ford designed the SHO's 5-speed manual transmission with those specifications in mind. However, Yamaha proudly delivered an engine with a stunning 220 hp and 200 ft-lbs of torque. Ford never modified original specs of the manual transmission to account for the improved engine specs. Because of this. early SHO's were notorious for blown clutches, sometimes in as early as 12 months.
Source: Ford Electronics Technical Group (now known as Visteon)

The new Ford Taurus SHO featured:
  • The famous 3.0L DOHC V6
  • A performance suspension with stiffer bushings and McPherson struts
  • The EEC-IV engine control system
  • Front airdam with fog lights
  • New wrap-around rear bumper with SHO logo
  • Side skirts
  • A new instrument cluster with a tachometer
  • Gray dashboard face
  • A Leather steering wheel with the SHO insignia on the central horn pad
  • Front bucket seats with leather bolsters and lumbar controls
  • Fully adjustable power driver's seat
  • Dual tuned exhaust
  • Four wheel disc brakes
  • 15" aluminum alloy Basketweave wheel rims

The original SHO program was planned for only the 1989 model year, with the possibility of a 1990 model year if sales were promising. However, by mid-1989 it was obvious that the car was a hit. The target buyer was a 30-something male professional that had either owned a muscle car in their youth, or yearned for a BMW but couldn't afford the sticker. As dealerships were having a hard time keeping the car in stock, Ford realized that they had a hit and made plans to continue the SHO for additional model years.

Ford's official production numbers for the SHO, along significant changes:

  Model 
Year
Version   Production 
Numbers
   Comments & Significant Changes
1989 Gen 1 15,519  Introduction of the SHO and the 3.0L Yamaha DOHC V6
1990 Gen 1 8,302  ABS added, new interior
1991 Gen 1 8,916  16" wheels, improved clutch, rod shifter on cars built after 5/18/91
1992 Gen 2 7,801  Body Redesign
1993 Gen 2 21,550  ATX available w/3.2L Yamaha DOHC V6 & softer suspension. Rear spoiler
1994 Gen 2 13,280  Larger front rotors
1995 Gen 2 9,560  Improvements to ATX & suspension. Last year for the beloved Yamaha V6.
1996 Gen 3 4,730  Major Body Redesign, 3.4L Ford DOHC V8 w/ATX. MTX discontinued. Decreased performance
1997 Gen 3 9,764  No improvements, plenty of cosmetic degradations and downgrades
1998 Gen 3 3,675  No significant changes
1999 Gen 3 3,368  Final year

Notes:

  • The Gen 1 SHO is seen as the stealthiest and bears the closest resemblance to a BMW. It is also the fastest. Most common comment is "Wow, what is that you're driving"? Because of the ground effects, it is often seen as too different to be quickly identified as a Taurus.
  • The Gen 2 SHO looks more like a respectable family sedan and is easily identifiable as a Taurus. Seen by some as the last true SHO.
  • The Gen 3 SHO is widely regarded by many SHO enthusiasts as a different car with the SHO logo slapped on it. Body, engine, suspension, chassis,  performance, and personality is all different. Mechanically incompatible with previous cars in every way. Cosmetically, it looks like any other Taurus. Gone is the uniqueness of the car and it's engine. Despite the V8, the car is slower compared to the original SHO. Also, as a result of the redesign, the driver's seat cannot easily fit anyone taller than 6'1".


4/18/2014 6:08:38 AM

 
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