Low-Buck Cult Classic: 1995 Ford Taurus SHO

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The Ford Taurus was a best-seller when it arrived in 1986. Its styling broke new ground, introducing the rounded lines that have become ubiquitous today. It was the ultimate family car, with decent gas mileage and adequate performance. But Ford has always played the performance hand – tweaking its Mustang into the SVO, adding spice to its Fiesta (XR2) and Capri (RS) in Europe – so it wasn’t long before the company signed an agreement with Yamaha to provide a hotted-up engine for the Taurus. No, actually, it wasn’t for the Taurus; rumor has it that Ford planned to build a competitor to the Fiero, perhaps called the Maya, perhaps called the GN34. But the engine ended up in the Taurus, and the result was launched in 1989 as the Taurus SHO, for Super High Output – which has a perfect cartoon kinda vibe. The engine is a wonder, but the car sneaks around in sedan clothing, mostly unremarkable. Watch out, though – someday we’ll turn around and these cars will be breaking new ground price-wise, and we’ll wonder what happened.

Most engines impress me like flying impresses me – because it still seems amazing that humans could make and do these things – but the Yamaha-built DOHC V6 in the SHO is a cut above. It’s a technical marvel – not to mention beautiful – with six intake runners dishing up excellent torque for in-town errands, and six secondary shorties that open up when the loud pedal is down, bringing on the power yet again. The 3400 lb car can jet from zero to sixty in 6.6 seconds. Top speed estimates vary but 140 mph should be expected. These early engines have a reputation for reliability and longevity, too. And despite lurking around in that sedan body, you didn’t have to put up with an automatic; until 1996, a five-speed manual was standard. This example, located in Trumbull, Connecticut, has 125k miles and a clean AutoCheck report. The brake pads and rotors have been replaced, the battery is new and the car runs and drives well. Hopefully, the 100k mile service has been completed, but in the absence of records, a new owner should do the whole service promptly.

The interior shows light wear on the driver’s seat and small tears and stains in the trunk carpet. The elastic sewn into both pockets on the backs of the front seats is sagging. The windshield glass may have a scratch, and the seal is decayed. A few scrapes, dents, and nicks are scattered around the body, but the car still presents well in its Deep Emerald Green metallic paint.

By 1995, the Taurus lost what little brightwork it had from around the windows. The door handles were now painted body color, instead of black. The trunk-lid spoiler was standard-issue except on the ’92s. This car, listed here on eBay, is bid to $2850, with no reserve in play. Yes, club support is strong. About 82,000 SHOs were made, a fraction of the more than 2 million Tauruses sold. Among those eighty-two thousand, you’ll find a few low-mile gems, and for those, you’ll pay mid-teens these days. The days of four-digit prices may be fading already. Have you ever considered owning a Taurus SHO? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Aussie Dave Aussie DaveMember

    Yep, another FWD POS, the Taurus never took off over here, because it was FWD. And I’m a Ford lover.

    Like 4
    • JCAMember

      It was extremely successful here. Ford sold millions and for decades

      Like 19
      • Nelson C

        Best selling car in the US during the early nineties. Before Ford ruined it with the catfish face.

        Like 6
    • CCFisher

      Yet you folks seemed to love the Falcon, even though it traced its roots back to the original Falcon released in 1960.

      Like 3
  2. RICK W

    As often stated, I am no fan of small, aero, plain Jane cars. To me Taurus was a big step in the WRONG direction for Ford. A close friend bought a first year Taurus, after years of Coupe de Villes. She loved that little POS! Never understood that. But to each his (or her) own. Fortunately, in the USA 🇺🇸 we can STILL have our own opinions.

    Like 4
    • George

      I bought one…well the Mercury version at least
      Had the 3.8 so Ford replaced the head gaskets at 60k miles. Other than a couple other mechanical issues it was definitely the most comfortable car I’ve ever owned. Didn’t really to much else great but darn if it wasn’t comfortable. More than my couch now. It’s like Ford put 100% of their design efforts into making those seats the very most fitting they could possibly be.

      Like 3
      • David Michael Herr

        SHO was a completely different animal, pretty cool engine stuck in the Taurus wrapper……

        Like 10
      • Thomas H Piercy

        The 3.8 engine was a mistake, it blew head gaskets and cracked heads with regularity, it didn’t even sound nice. The 3.0 standard engine on the Taurus and Sable made the same horsepower (140) as the 3.8 and from 1982 in the Granada through the enlarged version (4.2) found in F series and vans, this engine caused many heartaches in Taurus and TBird, that small LTD and anything else, this engine made many Ford customers go somewhere else. The biggest crime was when they made it the only engine for the Continental Lincoln, a pathetic imitation of a luxury car engine in a car that was technically way ahead of it’s time. Now the Yamaha built 3.0 in the Taurus SHO was heads and shoulders beyond anything else in it’s class. It was light years ahead of the standard pushrod 3.0. That 3.0 was also great in that it would last as long as you treated it half way right. It even had a pretty sound when it wound up. I have personally put many miles on each of these cars as a Ford sales manager and a Lincoln Mercury dealer.

        Like 4
      • Big C

        3.8 V-6 in a Windstar van. 200,000 miles. Yeah, they were terrible…

        Like 1
  3. Bo

    Calling this a classic or vintage car depends on your age I guess. I love it. But I have nostalgic feelings about my long ago scrapped ’96 Camry with a manual transmission so I guess that puts me in the oddball category.
    1996 was 28 years ago. My first “classic” car was only 17 years old when I bought it in 1989. This is way older than that.
    Cheap to own, now very unique, cool color, and the kicker – manual transmission. This Taurus is a cool old car that you can actually buy and daily drive without a lot of money.

    Like 10
  4. JCAMember

    Great bargain car. With the 5spd and a 7000 rpm redline, I’m sure it’s entertaining. I like the sport seats and the keypad entry on the door is a useful thing.

    Like 11
  5. Nevada1/2rack Nevada1/2rackMember

    A coworker bought one of these in ‘94 painted a nondescript white.
    We were all less than impressed-until he took us out to a local track after lunch.
    Almost turned into a mistake but the brakes worked really well for “a family car”-the two in the back seat got their doors open just in time to step out and feed the trackside foliage their lunches..
    I was told the Mazda gearbox was a weak link but the few we knew with these nickel rockets never had a problem.

    Like 6
  6. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

    I hope some other SHO owners, like me, will chime in. I had a 92 5-speed. Fun and entertaining car. It worked great for me, my daily driver needed to serve back-up duty as a family car, but I wanted something with some fun. The engine was obviously the highlight of the car. Wish I had kept it.

    Good write-up Michelle. I agree, I suspect the (few remaining) low-mileage examples will be appreciating in value.

    Like 22
    • Frank Sumatra

      Thanks, Bob. Was “torque-steer” an issue?, and do you have an idea on what the 100,000 mile service requires? And I agree the low-key, manual transmission,sedans are for the true car nut. If the Chevrolet SS ever dips into the “Affordable” range, I will be the first in line.

      Like 7
      • z1rider

        I’ve had several, v6 and one v8.

        As for the torque steer, some mistakenly believed these had a lot of torque steer. Technically no, they didn’t. If you were lined up with both wheels on a good clean road surface they would pull straight ahead. If one wheel found some gravel or some well worn shiny asphalt while the other was able to hook up then they would pull in the direction of the wheel with the better traction. So that could be either a pull to the right or the left depending on the road.

        True torque steer always pulls the same direction and is exhibited every time you go to W.O.T.

        Like 4
      • Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TNMember

        Frank, my torque-steer comment would be the same as z1rider’s comments. I sold mine before 100,000 miles, so I don’t have any experience with its requirements. I would suggest going to forums like Jeff suggests. The cars do have a following.

        I was pretty sure we had several former SHO owners on Barn Finds, and I’m glad they chimed in.

        Like 4
      • Jeff Williams

        100k service : Timing belt replacement, adjust valves via shims, flush anti-freeze, replace spark plugs , crankshaft position sensor check and maybe a water pump ? Coil pack was very reliable

        Like 0
    • Lakota

      I had a 94 auto SHO that my wife would need the car once in awhile she could never learn how to drive a standard. Loved that car and still wish i had it. Took twisty roads like it was on rails. Also had a 98 SHO which had the V8 auto there was no standard offered with the V8s but still lots of fun driving. Both had great seats that you could drive for hours. There was a magazine call SHO Times that came every two months that i subscribed to that had a lot of SHOs that people built. At the time there was a lot of aftermarket puts to boost horse power and suspensions. Some really nice wolfs in ship clothing first through third SHO in those magazines.

      Like 1
  7. Jeff Williams Jeff WilliamsMember

    I had an 89. First time a full service gas station attendant opened hood he was stunned. “Gnarly “ was his only word.
    Fun car. Had a 92 also. More lux, great sound system. Then had 99 with V8 and auto. 60 degree v8 made sweet music. Drove SHOs for almost 20 years.
    Sho owners forum and V8SHO web site were the place to get help and sage advice.
    Got me a 06 CTS-V to replace the rev happy 89. Still driving a stick!

    Like 9
  8. Gord

    had a 94 auto and a 89 5spd
    fun cars, had a blowout at 150 km/h but… turned out alligatored… riding on the steel belts still holding air so… yes great engine … and that was an auto

    that being said… had some typical taurus issues… seals around taillights made a nice pool in spare tire well, headlight switch was NOT a relay so could overheat/melt, even catch fire (mine melted and did a flickering light)

    not much support back in the day (i found someone who did a video (vhs) of doing the t-belt etc. 100k service as few people could do it). Have to take off passenger wheel and inner fender to do the work (foreshadowing removing cab off diesel ford trucks for servicing!!)

    the 89 i bought to put the drivetrain into an aztec 7 but realized… hmm X hp in a 3400 lb car now into a 1500lb car is a death wish!

    had a spirit r/t at same time… also white like the sho (white rims, body, etc…. very euro)…. fun car too but overheating issues.
    wife had a 95 sable that thought about making into a showagon but… big dreams no time!

    all long gone

    gord in ontario canada

    Like 7
  9. Nova wagon

    I’ve owned 2 SHOs , they were both automatic transmission because my wife drove them . The only thing I can tell you is that the automatic takes its own belt tensioner which is no longer available from Ford and that was in 2006. The stick version tensioner was still available at that time. So the only place you can find one is in the yard. Good luck with that. I found one replaced it and sold it that was in 2009 it was the only one I could find and it came from a SHO yard out west.

    Like 1
    • John H.

      Anybody else remember the “Billy Wagon” SHO that Car and Driver made out of a Taurus station wagon?

      Like 0
  10. AndyinMA

    Nice car in a great 90s color

    Like 4
  11. Greg Millard

    I have owned three gen 1 & gen 2, currently a 92 manual with posi & Konis …just a great reliable car. Value is hard to beat …mine is- currently being used to teach my grandkids to drive a stick.

    Like 4
  12. Citizen X.

    A 5 speed in Emerald green is on my bucket list….
    Had a 93 Wagon as a rental Brand new….
    Had to drive the Columbia River Gorge…
    I don’t know if I got a special one…
    It rode like a Cadillac and drove like a big Porsche…..
    The Boys at Ford made a special one there…
    A $15.00 cigar and spectacular views,
    Best 3 hour drive I ever had…

    Like 5
  13. Mike F

    I bought a 1992 SHO new in 91 for my wife. She would only drive manuals. She didn’t really know that it was so powerful but she definitely got into it. Previously all the manuals she had driven were 4 cylinder imports.

    Ours was royal blue metallic with gray cloth/leather trimmed interior. The car was gorgeous. I believe it was the optional interior because the driver’s seat had power adjustable side bolsters in addition to all the usual adjustments. It was probably the most comfortable driver’s seat I’ve ever experienced and the side bolsters really did their job in the twisties.

    The engine was exceptional. Made plenty of power, loved to rev and sounded great doing it. The transmission could be a little touchy to shift fast but not unexpected with shift-by-cable setup. It was very easy to spin the front wheels on aggressive takeoff but careful clutch feathering made launches fast enough to surprise everyone who ever rode in our “Taurus”.

    The 92 had two weak spots. The brake rotors could be easily warped and the electrical system was very sensitive to a weakening battery. I recall replacing the battery annually just to keep it running right. Other than that, it was a delight.

    PS: as pointed out, the 92 had no spoiler and it was one of the other sleeper things I loved about it.

    Like 7
  14. Mark R Genereux

    No underside pics? If rockers etc are good than it’s a find!

    Like 0
  15. CCFisher

    I would say that the 1983 Thunderbird and 1984 Audi 5000 introduced us to rounded, aerodynamic styling before the Taurus. The Taurus was notable (and controversial) for its grille-less nose, but the real news was under the skin. The Taurus arrived with a much more European ride/handling balance than anything ever before offered by a US automaker in a mass-market model. It taught millions of Americans to value a taut ride and precise handling over softness and isolation. Don’t get me wrong, plop me down in the back seat of a 1986 Town Car, and I’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride. On the other hand, put me behind the thin-rimmed steering wheel, and I’ll be wishing for a Mark VII LSC.

    Like 2
  16. Connecticut mark

    Wow ! Not POS! , unique Quick cars, would give your 4 door Rwd cars in Australia a good run or you money!

    Like 2
  17. Jonathan Q Higgins

    Oiling issues I hear. Probably needs a timing belt. I sold mine with 150k on it. Probably a bad move. I can tell you that it will do 145 mph. Shhhhh! She was fun. Could run even with a Camaro with 3 friends with me.

    Like 0
  18. H Siegel

    Ok I told this before on here when there was another SHO on here. I had a 94 SHO red with black leather interior. I was on I70 in Maryland heading east. When a Chevy SS around the same year of my SHO came up along side my at 55 mph the driver looked over at me and pointed down the road and off we went. At 120 mph we were still side by side when I lost my nerve and backed out he did the same he looked over and we smiled and then he went on. The SHO was a great car that Yamaha V6 was no slouch. From the factory stainless steel dual exhaust that sounded great. Comfortable to drive great smooth ride. Had the 100,000 mile service done on mine by a very good mechanic. Never any problems with it. Sold it with close to 200,000 miles. I so wish I still had it. As I always say if I was a younger man I’d definitely be bidding on this. GLWTA to the buyer drive it and enjoy it.

    Like 1
  19. wes johnsonMember

    Retired from Army Recruiting in ’89 so car sales was a natural. Sold FLM at a dealership in MN, and we had one of these and a GT as well on the lot. The turbo GT was fast, but I liked the Taurus SHO. Sold a couple of them as not only a sleeper sedan, had all the bells and whistles inside. Sold one to a couple who loved the stereo. Now later in live, would love to find a way to transfer that engine to a RWD car. Any one know who can do that?

    Like 1
  20. Jeremy Philbin

    In 1995 the mustang cobra offered 240hp… the SHO with Yamahas amazingly reliable v6 offered 220hp. Amazing cars!

    Like 1
  21. Michael Lloyd GregoryMember

    One of the more entertaining write-ups I’ve read in a while. I have never gravitated toward middle-of-the road cars like the Taurus, but I always thought the SHO was a real treat. Never got to drive one, though. Great story!

    Like 1
  22. RICK W

    One more time! This is definitely a NO SHO 😉 for me! 🤮! This peasant is revolting! I’m on to VERSAILLES! 🏰 😁 🤣 😂!

    Like 1
  23. PRA4SNW PRA4SNWMember

    I had a ’91 SHO that I bought in ’92 with 12K miles – I had a local Ford dealer on the lookout for one.

    Although it was very fun and great performing, that car nickel and dimed me to the point where the monthly repair costs were greater than the monthly car payment, so I traded it on a Maxima that didn’t cost me a dime to keep on the road. My wallet dictated giving up some fun for reliability.

    Like 0

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