Cheap First Gen! 1989 Ford Taurus SHO

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In the latest chapter of, “Why isn’t this car worth more?”, I ask how a clean first-generation Ford Taurus SHO can be selling so cheaply. It looks clean, stock, and is described as being in excellent condition. It is listed for sale by the long-time second owner, and I wonder if the mileage is any indication he doesn’t want to deal with the big 60,000 mile service. Find it here on craigslist for $3,500.

The SHO is said to have some paint fade on the roof and wear to the driver’s seat, but otherwise remain free from significant cosmetic ills. The bodywork looks tidy and the SHO-specific aero kit is still attached, along with the basketweave-style wheels that came on the first-gen cars. The listed mileage is 59K, which means this SHO is ready for its major 60,000 mile service – and could be the reason for its cheap disposal.

The 60,000 mile service is a big one, and somewhat pricey and involved. Components that are replaced in the 60K include the waterpump, timing belt and accessory belts, crankshaft position sensor, removing the intake, replacement of plugs and wires, and pulling the valve covers off and replacing the shims that contact the camshaft and press down on the valve springs.

It’s not uncommon to see SHOs of the first and second generation get dumped right as that big service comes do. It’s a shame, as these cars don’t ask a lot of their owners beyond regular servicing and the 60K. Still, this one represents an opportunity for someone to pick up a clean SHO cheaply and either DIY or find a specialist to tackle the work and have a fun highway bahnstormer for years to come.

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  1. Ralph

    Whats going on with the wipers?

    Like 0
  2. Chuckster

    It’s cheap because it’s a bland rental car looking thing

    Like 4
    • Chuck MATHER

      Yup, ain’t it great!

      Like 4
  3. Todd Zuercher

    I saw the first photo and thought, “ Gee – that looks like my hometown” and it is after looking at the ad. If only it wasn’t black….

    Like 1
  4. Miguel

    Have any of you seen the car Jay Leno has that has this engine?

    It is called the Shogun. It is a Festive with this engine in the back.

    It looks like a scary car to drive.

    Like 1
    • Todd Zuercher

      I haven’t seen Jay’s car but I’ve seen the yellow one mentioned here in this article:

      Minus its rear wheels, it was stuffed in the bed of a GM pickup driven by Chuck Beck – the guy in the article. He was towing a trailer with one of his Porsche 550 replicas on it, eastbound between Phoenix and LA.

      This was in 2011 and I was towing my race Bronco home from a show in LA. I was a little incredulous to see the car and we had to go about 85 mph (faster than I wanted to go) to keep u with Beck. My girlfriend took some pics of it for me while I kept my eyes on the road.

      Like 0
  5. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    Surely the major service should have been done years ago anyway? It will have been 60k miles or 5 (?) years of age.

    Like 1
  6. Livermoron

    It was 1989 (or maybe late 88) and I’d recently read the Car and Driver review of the new Taurus SHO. I was not in a position to buy this or any new car but I did lust after it. A friend and I had just parked at a mall in Santa Rosa CA and a silver 89 SHO pulled in opposite us. As the driver got out I was telling my friend how awesome the engine looked and the driver asked if we’d like to see it – yes! And then he asked if we’d like to go for a ride – hell yes! He was a sales guy that did a lot of driving and wanted to treat himself to something fast but practical. He raced up and down the main street a couple of times – burying the tach in 1st and 2nd because he still wasn’t used to driving something that quick (remember this was the late 80s). I don’t remember if a limiter kicked in but if it did it was way past the redline. Anyway, I’ve always loved these since that lucky ride.

    Like 9
  7. Dale

    Weird day. I still havev 1989 SHO which I bought new. I have a 1984 VW Jetta GLI at the time and sold it when I got the SHO. Loved the GLI but it came with all the mechanical isdues of VWs. The SHOnwas my daily driver until 1997; has about 105,000 on it. It will soon need its next major service. I’ve kept up on the rust but was smart enough to Ziebart it when new, as I did with the GLI.

    Like 3
  8. gbvette62

    “these cars don’t ask a lot of their owners beyond regular servicing and the 60K.” Have you ever owned an SHO? I have, and I disagree.

    I had a new SHO in 89. The car was an absolute ball to drive, and quite a sleeper, but there was always something wrong with it. The SHO’s were known to have issues with the timing chains, main bearings, the AC, steering racks, oil seals that leaked oil into the spark plug wells, and the OEM clutch was junk. Once out of the 12/12000 warranty, parts and service wasn’t cheap, and a lot of independent mechanics weren’t comfortable working on then. Something I imagine is an even bigger problem today. But the biggest problem with the SHO was that it started life as a Ford Taurus, a sedan of average build quality, at best.

    I knew a couple other SHO owners, and they all had similar problems with their’s.

    We kept our SHO about 5 years, and put 90000 miles on it. When it wasn’t in for some kind of repair, it was really fun to drive.

    Like 5
    • TinCanSailor

      gbv – I bought an 89 SHO for my ex-wife. Great car to drive, fast as hell (for 1989), liked high RPM, sounded amazing.

      Funny you mentioned the clutch above. We never had an issue with the car until about 30,000 miles when the clutch went out. The dealer pulled it, and when the mechanic went to get the replacement, it was different than the clutch/pressure plate that was installed. My car came from the factory with a clutch from a 4 cylinder (Escort?) engine. Normally a clutch isn’t a warranty item, but they replaced it for free because they found the wrong clutch in the car.

      My ex took the car when she moved out. I sure miss that car.

      Like 5
    • PRA4SNW

      Same story here. I had a ’91 and it was a blast to drive, and no one new what you could do with one until it was too late.

      Problem was spending more money in repairs each month than the monthly car payment.

      Like 0
  9. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I had a 92 SHO, bought it new, black with gray interior, last year they were all 5 speeds. The car was a blast to drive. It was the first real performance car I owned, and the high revving engine was a willing participant. Plus the ‘bundle of snakes’ was cool.

    I generally agree with the “started life as a Taurus” comment. I had a handful of problems with the car, but some of them could also have happened on a regular Taurus. I always thought the car looked a bit too subtle, even after I added a tape stripe on the cladding. Sold it to a friend at 52K miles.

    Like 1
  10. Jim Ford

    I had an 89 SHO and it was one of the most fun vehicles I’ve ever driven. But like a couple of the previous comments above I had a ton of never ending issues with the car, still for the few years I owned her it was a blast to drive.

    Like 0

    I had a white 1999 SHO. It was a lot of fun. Had clutch problems and a sticking brake rotor. Nothing else. I racked over 35k miles the first year. Traded it with over 90k miles. The interior and body was falling apart and looking very worn. Loved that car.

    Like 1
  12. steve

    I owned two 89’s, Ebony and Ivory and both suffered from the same three maladies: Lousy clutch, worn bolsters on the drivers seat and failed cam sensor. But they were a hoot to drive.

    Like 1
  13. Scot arey

    I had a 1990, it was fun to drive and as a mechanic I got to work on it a whole lot of the time, not exactly the best at trying to go back and forth to work as a mechanic and having to work on your own car at night lol.

    As to the service for the 60000 mile, on a 30 + year old car, that should have already been taken care of years ago. It’s not just the miles, it’s the time.

    Like 2
  14. Mountainwoodie

    SHO’nuff lots of present and former owners on here. MY neighbor across the alley had a ‘89 SHO and a Merkur……! I guess he liked offbeat Ford products with build issues ;)

    Like 0
    • PRA4SNW

      LOL! You could have lived next to me, I had a SHO and an Xr4Ti.
      The SHO had many issues and the Merkur ate through manual trannys.

      Bad luck, me and Ford.

      Like 1
  15. Maestro1

    I had a 1993 Lincoln Continental Signature that i loved and was a blast to drive. It was a frequent resident at the mechanic’s. I got on a forum on the Internet run by a retired Lincoln Mercury Engineer who remarked that Ford had great ideas, poorly executed. This is another example. They are terrific and this one is a really good sleeper, just be prepared to write a few checks and then enjoy.

    Like 1
  16. Del

    As gbvette says. Problem child.

    Maybe 1500 ? Then stick it in a Barn for your grand chillens ?

    Like 1
  17. Fiete T.

    Even a better sleeper? The ’98-’04 Buick Regal GS or an Olds LSS. Not as troublesome as a SHO, better longevity, more of a sleeper, easy to do some upgrades and have a car that can still move well today

    Like 0
  18. Shaun Waite

    Another SHO?! Don’t get me wrong I love SHOs, but I would love to see more regular Generation 1 86-91 Taurus’s for sale on here.

    Like 0

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