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CATEGORIES (articles) > Donor vehicle information > Ford > Ford Taurus

Ford Taurus

Not to be confused with the Ford Taunus.

Ford Taurus
Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company

The Ford Taurus was a mid-size car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company in North America. It was introduced in December 1985 as a 1986 model, replacing the Fairmont-based LTD. The Taurus was named by Lewis Veraldi, the father of the Taurus team concept, and his chief planner, John Risk, who both had wivesborn under the astrological sign of the bull Car: A Drama of the American Workplace, Mary Walton, W. W. Norton & Company, 1997 '.. The Taurus had a longer best selling run than the original Ford Model T ([1] 16LINCOLN.html?ex=1310702400&en=6ba0 ...) New York Times July 16, 2006 Productionended after a long production run in 2006, with 2007 being the last model year. The car was given a cosmetic facelift in 1992 and a major redesign in 1996, followed by two design updates in 2000 and 2004.

Throughout its lifetime, the Taurus has been available as both a 4-door sedan and 4-door station wagon. An SHO (Super-High Output) version, with more powerful engines and other modifications, was manufactured from 1989 to 1999, and gained a fanbase of its own. The Taurus also had a Mercury sibling called the Sable.

The Taurus was an important model for both Ford and the entire American automotive industry and market, with Ford selling nearly 7 million examples during its 20 years of production.Between 1992 and 1996, the Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States, only losing the title in 1997.

The Taurus was ultimately replaced by the Ford Five Hundred, its crossover version, the Ford Freestyle and the Ford Fusion. Most Tauruses were built either in Chicago, Illinois (until April 23, 2004, at which time the plant was retooled to build the Five Hundred) or in Ford's Hapeville Plant in Atlanta, Georgia.

First generation (1986–1991)

D]] automatic
AXOD-E automatic
MTX-IV manual|
First generationSHO V6|
Engine:2.5 L HSC I4
3.0 L Vulcan V6
3.8 L Essex V6
3.0 L SHO V6
Transmission:5-speed MTX manual
ATX automatic
AXOD automatic
AXOD-E automatic
MTX-IV manual

The 1986 Ford Taurus was a very important and successful mid-size sedan that introduced a radical new design philosophy to the United States. Replacing the rear-wheel drive mid-sized Ford LTD, the front-wheel drive Taurus introduced a much rounder and more 'organic' design. Often described as 'jelly bean' shaped, the design proved successful and helped to launch Ford into a new era of prosperity. The Taurus, along with the 1983 Thunderbird, ultimately led to an American automobile design revolution that saw the end of the 'boxy' cars of the 1970s and 1980s.

The bodyshell was smooth and aerodynamic, and had no grille, except for a space where the Ford oval was placed, and the Sable twin had a wraparound "lightbar" with two headlights and a low-wattage stretch in between. The doors went into the roof, and the handles were recessed. The Taurus also had large glass areas with slim pillars, and were flushed into the body, not recessed. The interior had bucket seats, very rare for bench seats in most cars, and the dashboard wrapped around the driver and fed into the door panels to create more of a "cockpit" feel. ([2] articleId=46007)

The premiere for the Taurus was big. For its aerodynamic shape, the premiere was held in MGM Studios Soundstage 85, where Gone With the Wind was filmed. Ford workers came into the room, which was decorated in space-age decor, holding cups shaped like flying saucers, and the Taurus and Sable were sitting behind a curtain, their outlines silhouetting. Then, with the flashing of strobe lights, and a drumroll, the curtain was pulled and the two cars were shown the public.

The Taurus and Sable siblings used flush aerodynamic composite headlights. Ford was the first to produce and sell vehicles with such headlights in the U.S., when it introduced the Lincoln Mark VII in 1984. To do so, Ford had to lobby the NHTSA to have them approved. The Taurus and Sable were the first domestically-produced, mainstream sedans to use the new lights. They also went beyond the Audi 5000, with which they were often compared, to adopt a grille-less 'bottom breather' nose, first pioneered by the Studebaker Avanti in the 1960s, although some special performance models were fitted with additional ventilation openings.

For 1986, the engines were a 90 hp (67 kW) 2.5 L 4-cylinder found in the MT-5 and L models or a new 140 hp (104 kW) 3.0 L Vulcan V6, optional on the L and standard on the GL and LX models. The MT-5 was equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, Vulcan models used a newly-designed 4-speed AXOD automatic, while HSC cars used an older 3-speed ATX automatic.

The MT-5 and L models were basic and cheap, starting at US$10,500, with the GL offering a few interior upgrades like rear headrests and a folding armrest, as well as the standard 3.0 L V6. The LX was loaded with air conditioning, power windows, power seats, electric door locks, a cassette stereo and cruise control, although these features were also available as options on the other cars. The top-of-the-line LX station wagon sold for $14,300. By 1989, the top-of-the-line car had automatic temperature control, keypad door locks, electronic instrument cluster, trip computer and power passenger seats.

Ford's 3.8 L Essex V6 was added to the lineup in 1988. Although the power output was rated at the same 140 hp (104 kW) as the 3.0 L engine, this large V6 produced 215 ft·lbf (291 N·m) of torque, a welcome addition, especially in the heavier wagons. However, the 3.8 suffered from a head gasket reliability problem, which was a fault with Ford's supplier of gaskets, not necessarily with the engine itself. Some also attribute this to reduced under-hood cooling.

There was no 5-speed wagon that year, while the L model was upgraded with a split bench in front and exterior power mirrors. The SHO model was added for 1989, and became the only manual transmission Taurus as the MT-5 model was eliminated.

In 1990, the interior received a facelift, incorporating a new steering wheel design with an airbag, a new gear shifter and a new dashboard with a new instrument panel. The 2.5 L four was given SFI, increasing power by 15 hp (11.2 kW) and torque by 10 ft·lbf (13.6 N·m), as did the 3.0 L V6, although output remained the same for that engine. The 3.8 L continued unchanged. All but the SHO were fitted with a 4-speed automatic for 1990 and a new electronic AXOD-E transmission in 1991. LX-package cars were also fitted with anti-lock brakes as 'standard fitment' that year.

First generation SHO

A first generation Ford Taurus SHO with the "Plus" package
A first generation Ford Taurus SHO with the "Plus" Package

In 1989, the Taurus line was given a boost by the addition of the SHO. It is said that the reason why the SHO was created was because a lightweight two-seater sports car was under development by Ford to compete with the Pontiac Fiero and the Toyota MR2. Ford had sealed a deal with Yamaha for engines for this new car, but since the 'sporty car' market was falling, Ford scrapped the project, having already received a shipment of engines from Yamaha for the car, with many more in production. To utilize these otherwise redundant engines, Ford instead decided to put them in the Taurus, creating the SHO..Powered by a special 'Super-High Output' 24-valve V6 producing 220 hp (164 kW) (developed with Yamaha), it featured vastly improved performance. With mid-6-second 0-to-60 mph (97 km/h) times and a top speed around 145 mph (233 km/h), it could keep up with such performance cars as Ford's own Mustang GT, the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 and the Diamond Star Motors cars (Mitsubishi Eclipse, Plymouth Laser and Eagle Talon) in turbocharged form. It was said to be the most powerful and quickest front-wheel drive car ever made when it was introduced.

The SHO, however, wasn't the sales success for which Ford had hoped. It had little exterior differentiation from other Taurus models, displaying understated ground effects and plain colors. The interior was very different, giving very comfortable and supportive sports seats and an 8000 rpm tachometer. The SHO became the only Taurus to feature a manual transmission since the MT5 was discontinued in that year.

A 'special edition' of the SHO was offered in 1991 that had some different styling cues from the 'normal' SHO, such as a new hood, painted wheels and other cosmetic details. This was called the SHO Plus Package..


The first generation Taurus LX was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1986. It was also on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list each year it was produced, from 1986 to 1991.


MT-51986–19882.5 L HSC I490 hp (67 kW)130 ft·lbf (176 N·m)5-speed MTX manual
L1986–19903-speed ATX automatic
L19912.5 L SFI HSC I4105 hp (78 kW)140 ft·lbf (190 N·m)4-speed AXOD automatic
1986–19903.0 L Vulcan V6140 hp (104 kW)160 ft·lbf (217 N·m)4-speed AXOD automatic
1988–19903.8 L Essex V6140 hp (104 kW)215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)4-speed AXOD automatic
19913.0 L SFI Vulcan V6140 hp (104 kW)160 ft·lbf (217 N·m)4-speed AXOD-E automatic
19913.8 L Essex V6140 hp (104 kW)215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)
SHO1989–19913.0 L SHO V6220 hp (164 kW)200 ft·lbf (271 N·m)5-speed MTX-IV manual

Second generation (1992–1995)

nsmission#MTX-IV|MTX-IV]] manual
4-speed AX4S automatic|
Second generationSHO]] V6
3.2 L
Engine:3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6
3.8 L
Essex V6
3.0 L
3.2 L
Transmission:4-speed AXOD-E automatic
4-speed AX4N automatic
5-speed MTX-IV manual
4-speed AX4S automatic
1992-1995 Ford Taurus sedan

The Taurus received its first cosmetic update in 1992, which modernized the interior and the front and rear fascias. With the older model facing slumping sales, this new model brought sales back up again, with 400,000 units sold during 1992. While the design was basically the same, every body panel except for the roof was changed. Ford also gave the Taurus what they called a 'smarter appointed interior', which offered such luxuries as automatic climate control (an option for the LX and, later, SE; standard on SHO models) and a center console was available for people who didn't want the front bench seat. The Taurus was the best-selling car in the United States for every year of this cosmetic update ..

The four-cylinder engine was eliminated and the SHO was given an optional automatic transmission. The cheaper L base model was dropped for 1993. A passenger-side airbag was standard for 1994.

The last year of this updated Taurus was 1995. For the 1995 model year, a sportier SE model was added. It featured alloy wheels and the designers dumped the front bench seat in favor of bucket seats, separated by a console. Other models gained standard air conditioning and rear window defroster.

Second generation SHO

A second generation SHO

The SHO model continued with the same powertrain as before—the 5-speed manual transmission remained unique in the Taurus lineup.

The lack of an automatic transmission had hurt sales, which was a situation that Ford rectified in 1993. A 3.2 L version of the Ford SHO V6 engine was introduced for automatic-equipped SHO, which still had 220 hp (164 kW), but now boasted 215 ft·lbf (292 N·m), a 15 ft·lbf (20.3 N·m) increase over the 3.0 L version.

In 1993, Ford did a minor redesign of the SHO interior, updating the center console. Other changes for 1993 included a trunklid spoiler, with integrated high-level brake light.


The updated Taurus earned seventh place on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list for 1992.


L19924-speed AXOD-E automatic3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6140 hp (104 kW)160 ft·lbf (217 N·m)
3.8 L Essex V6140 hp (104 kW)215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)
1993–19954-speed AX4S automatic3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6140 hp (104 kW)160 ft·lbf (217 N·m)
3.8 L Essex V6140 hp (104 kW)215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)
SE19953.0 L SFI Vulcan V6140 hp (104 kW)160 ft·lbf (217 N·m)
3.8 L Essex V6140 hp (104 kW)215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)
SHO1992–19955-speed MTX-IV manual3.0 L SHO V6220 hp (164 kW)200 ft·lbf (271 N·m)
1993–19954-speed AX4N automatic3.2 L SHO V6220 hp (164 kW)215 ft·lbf (291 N·m)

Third generation (1996–1999)

Third generationha V8 engine#3.4|SHO]] V8|
Engine:3.0 L SFI Vulcan V6
3.0 L DOHC
Duratec 30 V6
3.4 L
1996 Ford Taurus Wagon. The third and fourth generation wagons only differed between the front fascias, wheels, and interiors.

The 1996 model year saw the first complete redesign for the Taurus. Ford hoped the radical redesign would lead to the same success it had had with the 1986 Taurus. The controversial oval theme was not well received by the press and the public, and is ultimately blamed as the reason the Taurus lost its bestseller status to the Toyota Camry in 1997 '..

Another factor that was to blame for the sales decline of the Taurus was the substantial price increase from the previous model. The MSRP for the 1996 model increased US$2,500 over the 1995 model. The 1996 Taurus attempted to move upmarket and the result was a car with more standard and optional features. The 1996 model could be equipped with the powerful 200 hp (149 kW) 3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6 as an option. Quality of this generation was of a lower standard than in previous generations, as the overall quailty of the Ford line was falling at the time; the Taurus received a poor reliability rating from Consumer ReportsConsumer Reports 1998 New Car Buyer's Guide. Another notable quality issue is the fact that cars equipped with the manual air conditioning did not have any form of liquid drainage, meaning that mold could form in the air ducts and blow into the cabin, when the AC was turned on. This sparked a notorious battle between Ford and Jerry Schriber, an elderly man who claimed that the mold in the faulty AC system in his 1997 Taurus nearly killed himFord Lemon homepage, the website Schriber launched about his battle against Ford. The battle continues to this day.

Trim lines were now known as G at the bottom, with GL in the middle and LX as the most-luxurious. The SHO continued with a new 3.4 L V8 engine. The Taurus was a flexible-fuel vehicle for 1997 and earned LEV status in California but sales were faltering, nonetheless.

Controversial oval rear window

In an effort to reverse the sagging sales of the Taurus, Ford tried to increase its appeal by making some cosmetic changes for the 1998 and 1999 model years. These changes included redesigning the grille openings in the front, changing the design from two oval openings to a more SHO-like full width opening for the air dam (without the bar running through the center) and moving the Ford logo down into an enlarged opening between the lights, mounted onto a Jaguar-esque 'motif bar'. These years were also fitted with more attractive headlight lenses, featuring completely clear lenses and a multi-reflector surface in the rear of the housing, around the bulb; these were known as the 'disco ball' headlights. The rear turn signal lenses were changed from amber to red, to match the rest of the lightbar assembly, presumably to present a more 'sleek' appearance. Ford also eliminated the two downmarket trim levels, G and GL and reinstated the upscale SE model from 1995, which featured a harder suspension and four-wheel disc brakes.

Although all 1998 models had the option of the DOHC Duratec engine, it was only available on the SE for 1999. That same year, the front bucket seats, re-introduced with the SE, became optional on the LX.

Third generation SHO

A 1996 SHO

A 235 hp (175 kW) 3.4 L DOHC V8 was specified for the SHO model but the 5-speed manual transmission was deleted. The V8 in the SHO model (produced from 1996 to 1999) increased curb weight, and the lack of a manual transmission option meant the new SHO lacked the acceleration of the previous generation. These engines were assembled by Yamaha in Japan but more parts were made by Ford than in the earlier Yamaha-built V6.

Separation of the camshaft from its sprocket (components shared with at least one other Ford engine with significantly lower output) has been implicated in a growing number of catastrophic failures of this engine, at around the 50,000 mile (80,000 km) mark. The standard warranty on this model was 36,000 miles (58,000 km). This problem can be rectified by having the camshafts welded..


1996–19973.0 L SFI Vulcan V6145 hp (108 kW)180 ft·lbf (244 N·m)4-speed AX4S automatic
4-speed AX4N automatic
3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6200 hp (149 kW)195 ft·lbf (264 N·m)
19983.0 L SFI Vulcan V6145 hp (108 kW)180 ft·lbf (244 N·m)
3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6200 hp (149 kW)195 ft·lbf (264 N·m)
LX19993.0 L SFI Vulcan V6145 hp (108 kW)180 ft·lbf (244 N·m)
SE3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6200 hp (149 kW)195 ft·lbf (264 N·m)
SHO1996–19993.4 L SHO V8235 hp (175 kW)230 ft·lbf (312 N·m)4-speed AX4N automatic

Fourth generation (2000–2007)

Fourth generation

The Taurus received another redesign in 2000, which minimized some of the oval design elements from the 1996 model. The redesign also featured a taller roof over the rear-passenger space, to increase passenger headroom that had been sacrificed by the tapered 1996 design. The taller and roomier trunk also served to make the vehicle more functional. The interior was completely changed for a much more conservative design. Certain elements of the interior were retained from the 1996 model, such as the integrated control console, which combined the sound system and climate controls into one panel. The suspension was also softened to appeal to a broader, non-sporting audience. To reduce the price and increase profitability, many features such as such as four-wheel disc brakes were eliminated. The SHO model was also dropped. The re-introduction of the Chevrolet Impala in 2000 affected Taurus sales this time.

The 2002 Taurus included extra equipment on every trim level, including a CD player and power driver's seat on the SE, a power moonroof or leather interior on the SES and both of these luxury options on the SEL. Side airbags and traction control were added as options on all models.

2004-2006 Ford Taurus

For 2004, the Taurus received minor cosmetic changes to the front and rear fascias, including an eggcrate grille. Inside were a new instrument cluster and steering wheel. The Duratec engine received a boost in power, to 201 hp and 207 ft·lbf of torque. 2005 to 2007 models remain unchanged from 2004. Currently, the Taurus continues on in fleet sales and will do so until it reaches the currently scheduled end-of-production date, after the 2007 model year.


2000–20053.0 L SFI Vulcan V6155 hp (116 kW)185 ft·lbf (251 N·m)4-speed AX4N automatic
3.0 L DOHC Duratec 30 V6200 hp (149 kW)195 ft·lbf (264 N·m)
2006–20073.0 L SFI Vulcan V6155 hp (116 kW)185 ft·lbf (251 N·m)4-speed AX4N automatic


Taurus sales had slumped significantly in the years prior to its demise, losing significant market share to foreign sedans. In 2005, Ford stopped selling the Taurus to the public in the United States and Mexico. Production of the Taurus wagon was discontinued in January 2005. The 2006 and 2007 model Taurus are sold exclusively to fleets, but are still offered to consumers in Canada. Production had stopped by mid-2006, after a short run of 2007 models, due to Ford's closure of its Atlanta plant, as part of The Way Forward.

Rather than investing in an old platform, Ford chose to concentrate on development of the larger 2005 Five Hundred and Freestyle (a taller crossover sedan and wagon, based on a Volvo FWD/AWD platform) and the 2006 Fusion (a Mazda6-based sedan, similar in size to the original Taurus), which jointly gradually replaced the Taurus in the Ford lineup.

Export models

The third generation model was exported outside North America to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, in right hand drive but this proved unsuccessful. In these right-hand drive markets, it wore a Mercury Sable grille, a unique front bumper cover with inset parking and turn signal lamps and a Taurus-style rear, due to those countries' regulations regarding automotive lighting. Australians and New Zealanders tended to stay away from the cars, due to their high price; a well equipped, larger-engined rear-wheel drive Ford Fairmont cost around the same amount. While the Japanese market was offered the station wagon, Australian buyers could only opt for a high-spec sedan, with the Taurus Ghia badge.

In Australia, the 1996-98 Ford Taurus was assessed as providing 'average' protection for its occupants, in the event of a collisionUsed Car Safety Ratings 2006.

In Brazil, the second generation Taurus was introduced in 1994, available only as a sedan, with the 3.0L Vulcan engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission. It was intended to be an upscale alternative to the Belgian-built Mondeo. The third generation was available from 1997 to 1998, available only on the LX trim, using the Duratec engine. It enjoyed only very small sales, mainly due to its controversial design. However, the Taurus is popular in the used car market in Brazil, due to its low price and high equipment level.


Mark Martin during qualifying of Pepsi 400 at Daytona.

As Ford retired the MN12-based Thunderbird which had been Ford's NASCAR platform, they needed to pick another platform. General Motors had already used 2-door versions of their front-wheel drive mid-sizes such as the Monte Carlo, even though the actual cars were V6-powered front-wheel drive cars. Since Ford no longer manufactured any 2-door mid-size cars, the 4-door Taurus was chosen, although NASCAR racers don't have any doors. The first cars were modeled after the third generation cars, but later cars adopted the standard body shape imposed on all NASCAR bodies. Mark Martin is one of the most notable drivers of Ford stock cars. With the retirement of the Taurus, new Ford NASCAR bodies are now based on the Fusion, a car sized similarly to the original Taurus.

Famous owners

Conan O'Brien and his 1992 SHO

  • Conan O'Brien's daily driver is a second generation SHO. ([3] Conan-SHO)
  • Jay Leno owns several SHOs
  • Pat Goss from Motorweek drives a 1991 SHO.
  • Noel Gugliemi, best known for playing the "Monkey Butt" hood from Bruce Almighty, drives a 4th generation SE.

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