1987 Ford Taurus LX Wagon: Eat My Road Grit, Liver Lips!

Here’s another one that, like my recent posts on the ’76 Sunbird and ’79 Accord, used to be everywhere and are now almost a memory. But this one survived. These Tauruses were all over the place when I was a kid, sedan and wagon alike. Then, seemingly one day they all disappeared at once.

And for those who grew up in the ’80s, who could possibly forget Clark Griswold’s wood-festooned Taurus in Christmas Vacation? These wagons never came with the Country Squire-style Di-Noc wood sides. The movie car was simply modified to reflect Clark’s likely replacement to the Wagon Queen Family Truckster in the original Vacation movie.

This one is currently on San Diego Craigslist for $4500. Other than the Mercury Sable wire wheel covers, it appears to be a remarkably original car.

As the ad relates: “Very nice and clean classic 1987 Ford Taurus Wagon, 3.0L V6 Vulcan with only 158,000 original freeway miles. 8 seats, digital instrument cluster, 4 new GoodYear tires, power seats, power antenna, 4 power windows, power steering, power mirrors, cruise control, Board computer, 3rd row seat.”

“EVERYTHING WORKS PERFECTLY. Automatic transmission shifts as it should, the engine starts right up and strong, no leaks. Never been in any kind of accident.”

“No scratches or dents, all glass is good, all lights working, owner’s manual. The car starts, runs, drives, stops and is looking great. Very reliable.”

“Clean California title in hand, registration paid ’til July 2022. Original 80’s plates. Rare to find. IF THE AD IS UP THE CAR IS AVAILABLE.”

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve seen one of these in nice shape. By the time I was halfway through high school, most of these first-gen Tauruses were getting pretty rusty and were being handed down to teenage sons and daughters-likely as their parents bought brand-new Explorer Eddie Bauer editions.

This one looks to be pretty loaded up with the digi-dash and poofy seats, as it should, being the top of the line LX model.

These take me back to my childhood. There were SO MANY in the parking lot when I was in grade school. Our next door neighbors had one, my friend Jenny down the block, her parents had one. They were all over the frickin’ place. If I had the space and it wasn’t far away I’d be tempted to nab it, get a set of those optional lacy-spoke aluminum wheels, and play Clark Griswold on the weekends at cruise nites!

68 Replies to “1987 Ford Taurus LX Wagon: Eat My Road Grit, Liver Lips!”

  1. John C.

    This is a nice one, but I have never been much of a fan of the Taurus/Sable. It was a mistake to get styling inspiration from the Euros. For a while America tried to ram miniature versions of American style on Europe through Opel and Vauxhall subsidiaries, but eventually realized the mistake. This also was, though I can understand why Ford was flailing around looking for a new direction without Iacocca.

    The car also had some evidence of poor engineering. The car was too heavy for a four cylinder, a major weakness in the eighties. The four speed automatic was also less than robust, something American engineering should not be failing at.

    Given my misgivings, we surprisingly owned a 93 Sable GS sedan. We had wrecked our Corsica, and my wife wanted a bigger car with dual airbags. In 1993, that meant either an Intrepid or a Sable under 20k. Taurus had it optional on the passenger side, but few on the lots had it. We suffered two rebuilds on the automatic. I later found out that it was the first year for electronic control of the transmission, and they rerouted all the transmission cooling to the black box letting the transmission itself overheat in the southern heat.

    Reply
    • JustPassinThru

      It was only the car that saved Ford, after the early-1980s recession, after Lido’s ignoble firing, after Phillip Caldwell’s disastrous confrontation with the Gotcha Media about his pay and bonuses.

      Fords, before the Taurus, were becoming exciting cars, in the AMC mold. The Panther body, in its first years, was a seriously-flawed chassis. That it was the same size as the downsized B-Body Impala, didn’t mean it had the same level of development. Put bluntly, it was a POS until later years made the money to do the work to work out the flaws.

      The Escort was supposed to replace the Fiesta. Well, being young and starting my first really responsible job (four years late, because Recession) I had an Escort. That, too, was garbage. It did good in snow. That’s a FULL list of its virtues. Steering was as numb as with an LTD; the manual gearbox had a throw nearly as long as a Chevy C-30 with the old-school 3-plus-Low. The clutch sounded like a ratchet wrench every time you stepped on it. And one cam lobe burned off…just one…at 70k miles.

      I swore, no more Fords. A pledge I kept until recently.

      Meantime, the Tempo, finding Lima 2.3 engines in short supply…was given a Falcon six with two cylinders amputated. Now THAT is engineering! They tried to put a semi-hemi head on it (HSC, they called it) but what it was, was one more shortcut.

      The Taurus was a make-or-break…Chrysler was killing it with FWD, and GM, even with their trashy product, was making front-drive mainstream. That left Ford and the Panther, the car that Hank II and J. Edward Lundy, controller for the company, decided was “good enough” and all Lundy wanted to spend.

      So, in panic mode, they revisited the 1976 decision not to proceed with the car Hal Sperlich wanted to replace the old LTD with…that his advocacy cost him his job.

      They got it right, the better for Ford, even with Hank the Deuce out, to return to old, bad habits again. To this day, in fact. The toxic vetch of bean-counting and company politics seems to be too strong for even someone like Alan Mullaly to overcome.

      Reply
      • John C.

        I agree with most of that JPT. Grabbing the Escort from Europe to replace Pinto/Fiesta was a desperation move. Remember it was using the front drive space efficiency to invite in families from the more expensive and slightly profitable until volume dried up Fairmont. I agree the early Panthers were off, no 4.1 six for fleets, weird Euro details on early base models, and the broughamy ones were such a pathetic shadow of the previous style. Could they have left the old style in production with just a 302 and AOD for CAFE? Having a really big one would have killed in 83 when the full size market came back.

        As far as Sperlich and bean counters. You need a lot of bean counters to resize you downward when volume dries up. As leveraged as the big three were during the high interest rates of the time, a near death experience.

        The Ranger truck did get out in the period. Thankfully it didn’t coincide with another gas crunch, or that would have been the end of the full size pickup and any hope of survival. Imagine all that volume in something as cheap as a Ranger/S10

        Reply
    • stingray65

      It is amazing John how you defend so much Detroit crap from the 1970s and 80s with build quality and driving qualities so bad that they turned off millions of American brand loyal consumers for decades, and then criticize the Taurus that JustPassinThru so ably describes as the car that saved Ford. Yes it had its flaws, but compared to X-bodies, J-bodies, A-bodies, K-cars, Escorts, Tempos, and most other mid-size or smaller cars of the era the Taurus was actually pretty well put together, cleanly styled, and drove really well right out of the box, which was impressive for largely a clean sheet design. The only major criticisms I would have of Ford and the Taurus is that Ford took their eye off the ball in the 1990s by cost cutting the car to death and losing the momentum they had in competing with the Camry and Accord and destroying GM, and they were way too slow in adopting the platform into a minivan to compete against the K-car based Chrysler minivans that were stealing all the traditional wagon sales during that time.

      Reply
      • John C.

        You just don’t like the way traditional American cars drive. Designed to sooth and show their drivers some respect, understanding that the whole family relies on them completely and the hour or two they have alone during their commute is a vital part of their ability to cope with all the pressure. Remember all the factory worker types buying in to the model with their retirement splurge. With the decline of that model, men are left with more time for thrill seeking to briefly escape their depression and the negative cycle that causes. If there ever is a return to core principles and traditional families, perhaps someone will be around to offer something inspired by Lord Brougham.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Traditional American cars are designed to show their drivers some respect with fake wood, fake chrome, fake wire wheels, fake landau roof, fake spare tire hump and fake RR grill (Lincolns), indifferent build quality including creaks and rattles, drippy paint, and large and inconsistent panel gaps, and utilizing mediocre brakes, sloppy steering, and wheezy fuel sucking motors? The Taurus was like a breath of fresh air in reducing the fake to a minimum and providing a pleasant driving experience with smooth ride, nice handling, and quiet interior, and decent fuel economy.

          Reply
          • John C.

            Remember, fake wood and landau tops are there to replicate what a true aristocrat experiences. Just like a middle class man’s modest but clean and well kept home is indeed his castle. All to show a man respect. What modern vehicle does that? The few directed at him clearly think he is a moron. The CUVs direct their respect at women. Totally unearned.

            You are free to direct your lousy build quality sneers at the Koreans but you of course won’t. Just direct it inward, what could be more healthy?

            I am glad you found the Taurus a breath of fresh air. It was of course built to foreign sensibilities, but it would have required some level of attention from import fans to notice. It definitely lead at least domestic styling trends. Yet somehow the American way of life was not saved. Perhaps too much to expect from subversive import humpers. So why build for them?

    • Carmine

      Is it even all that Euro? People often say it was inspired by the Audi 5000, but I never confused one for the other, when the aero 100/5000 launched in 81 as an 82, Ford had already shown several Aero concept cars, Probe’s 1-3 and was close to launching the “Tempaz” which is “early aero” and then then the aero 83 Thunderbird, most car companies were working on or showing a concept. GM showed off a bunch of “low cD” cars in the early 80’s too like Aero 2000, Citation IV, Aero X, etc and the 82 F-bodies and 84 Corvette all talked about low drag in their ad copy and showed the obligatory smoke over the shillouette of the car shot.

      I’d say that Taurus/Sable are way more domestic than the launched a year earlier but mostly forgotten 1985 Chrysler LeBaron/Dodge Lancer which were 5 doors with available 5speeds and turbo 4’s.

      The allowing by the benevolent DOT the use of composite headlights was big game changer I think. Ford jumped on that early with the 1984 Lincoln Mark VII, which was the first domestic car to use them. The Taurus and Sable were the first real mass market US cars to use them. In 1986 I think the only 4-5 domestic cars with composite headlights were the Taurus/Sable, Mark VII and the Eldorado/Seville. By 1987 they expanded to more cars like the C/H full size GM cars, the Beretta and Corsica came out, Ford even added them to the F-series.

      The Sable really was the looker of the 2, it really was impressive to see the light bar across the front all lit up.

      Reply
      • dejal

        The light bar wasn’t that impressive a few years later when half the bulbs were out. There were a lot. One would think fixing that by the owner would be relatively simple, but there were a lot with burned out bulbs so maybe it meant a lot of disassembly. Kind of like when you see a car way in the distance and don’t know the make. But a headlight is burned out. So, you say “Probably a VW”. And it is.

        That being said, these were not bad cars for the day.

        Reply
      • John C.

        Carmine, there was more to the Euroness than the Audi shape. The switch style was far more European, though that may not be so obvious on this digital dash version. This was doubled down on my second gen and the woodgrain was removed and replaced by, ….well nothing, very foreign. Comparing the door fit to the tankish Corsica door it replaced had the exacting foreign style fit but also that very light flimsiness offered by our foreign friends. There was also the issue of tires. The Taurus was the early American adopter of 70 series sporty tires, in exactly the period Audi 5000 size, to do the trade even in base models for more steering feel at the cost of impact harshness and road noise. My Sable had the even more aggressive and harsh 65 series 15 inch Michelins like the Audi Turbo 5 and I was rewarded for my extravagance by loosing one expensive tire to a pot hole. Yes the impact was quite harsh. All very modern and foreign.

        One area that the Taurus/Sable thankfully did not follow Audi was with engines. Imagine sticking an American family with a rough torqueless five. The 2.8/3,1 in competing GMs was very much in the tradition of the small block V8s as they told you over and over in period. The 3.0 Vulcan response was quite Windsor like. Smooth, perhaps smoother than GM but less rev happy.

        My light bar was nice, mine didn’t yellow as I had a carport and though I never had a bulb in it blow, a bulb is not so bad. A Saab I owned later has a similar rear lightbar with LEDs, of which several went dead. Also dead was the warranty coverage from defunct Saab. The only solution was a new $500 rear light cluster from the now non existent dealer. I let them die. So no blinker to the left rear but the modern computer had a work around that flashed the separate and functional hazards just on the left to signal.

        Reply
      • George Denzinger

        A great shout out to the now forgotten LeBaron/Lancer of the mid to late 80’s. A very space efficient package on the Chrysler H platform with a hatchback that made the car very practical. I had a 1987 Lancer ES turbo with the Level III suspension. It served me well as a commuter car, a family car and a faux station wagon/pickup truck occasionally. My only real disappointment with the car was the air conditioning system was inadequate in the Georgia heat. That the car was black with a dark red interior didn’t help. The crap Nippondenso compressors failed regularly and after a certain point, I was resigned to living with a car without a/c in the South.

        This sedan was the aerodynamic sedan that the US wanted back in the 80’s. But Chrysler’s marketing switched from neo-Brougham before the release of the minivan, to all minivan, all the time after the release of the minivan. Ford’s aero marketing was far better than Chrysler’s and ultimately won the day.

        Reply
  2. Manfred Hangtooth

    Ghod, I love these. My folks test drove one of these before deciding on an LTD Crown Victoria wagon back in 1986. Fifteen-year-old me thought it was the next best thing to a spaceship.

    I did get a ’90 Sable with the 3.0 a few years later, which served me well through most of the ’90s. If this one wasn’t on the other side of the country, I’d be seriously thinking about adding it to my driveway.

    Reply
    • dejal

      You got the good engine. At work at least 3 people had the 3.8. That engine had “Issues” for them. One was a Taurus, one was Lincoln and one was in the Windstar. The guy with the Windstar had the guy with the Lincoln as a boss. “I should have dumped the Windstar after the Lincoln went bad”.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth

        It’s a shame because a first-gen Taurus with the 3.8 was a pretty lively car, particularly in traffic where the torque and the (at the time) wide gear range made it easy to jump ahead and into a gap.

        Reply
  3. JustPassinThru

    The subject car IS a nice one. Wish I had space and a use for one.

    Although a traditional wagon, at least in appearance, that was really a break from the past with Ford. First, most obvious, no Di-Noc fake-wood. That fake wood had gone on since Ford abandoned real wood, what, 1952? And they should have quit wood earlier.

    So, for 35 years, they had the market cornered for sheets of vinyl fake wood. First just the Country Squire. Then the Falcon Squire, then the Fairlane Squire, the Ranchero Squire, Torino Squire, Pinto Squire. There was no Escort Squire, and I’m not sure why they ruined their otherwise perfect record of silliness.

    Then Ford’s revolutionary, if temporary, commitment to do the job right. An all-new car, with actual intelligent design. And instead of recycling a 20-year-old platform, as the Falcon-Maverick-Granada or Pinto-Mustang did.

    Finally, it was the swan song of wagons. They were not especially practical vehicles – the Iacocca-Sperlich minivan over at Chrysler was proving that – but they had a long tradition, one I could respect. One I had lived with, as one of my early cars was a well-worn Pinto wagon from Texas. A family hauler it was not; but it was the perfect rolling sleeping pod for a young person trying to see the country on the cheap.

    I hope this one gets a good home. A hundred thousand miles and the interior looking like that? Someone loved it.

    Reply
  4. hank chinaski

    Pour one out for wagons. The Golf Sportwagon, the last affordable holdout, is done and the unlifted V90 (actually assembled in Sweden) recently got the axe. The A4 and Legacy/Outback sell in lifted trim only. Everything left is fairly upmarket, the cheapest perhaps being the V60 with a steep cost curve up to the A6 Avants and E-Classes.

    I has a sad.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      On the other hand, one might question why it took Detroit, Europe, and Japan so long to figure out that adding a taller roof and higher seats to create a minivan or CUV out of a sedan platform created a much more utilitarian wagon than simply extending the roof of the sedan version, and utility is the only reason that most people bought wagons (except for the 55-57 Nomads).

      Reply
      • hank chinaski

        Nah. I’ll take the 90% of the cargo capacity benefits without the penalties to CoG and weight and derived ride, handling, braking , MPG, and acceleration.

        Now excuse me while I leave to brush the suede elbows on my blazer.

        Reply
    • Rick T.

      I’ve had a Sportwagen for 5 years and 103k miles. It’s treated me pretty well so far. I love the wagon format and would buy another if it was available. A superb combination of price, value, and function. I has a bigger sad.

      Reply
  5. CJinSD

    Clark Griswold’s Taurus wagon shouldn’t have had the white shoe treatment. He had traded in a nice Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser, expecting the Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon with the CB and the optional Rally Fun Pack that he’d ordered. The John C-worthy Metallic Pea Wagon Queen Family Truckster was a cruel twist of fait. Surely, next time he’d have gotten something resembling his self-image instead of another caricature of Detroit’s malaise.

    The first generation Taurus was the last Detroit car that really mattered. The second generation was so cautious that it was retrograde, and the third one was an ovoid punch-line. IIRC, the momentum of the first Taurus allowed the second one to be the last American-branded car that outsold the best-selling Japanese-branded cars, although Domestically-produced Hondas and Toyotas were the real American cars by then.

    Reply
      • JustPassinThru

        “No car is John C. worthy, just John C. tolerable.”

        That tells us a lot. I guess you’re anti-car; maybe in favor of mandated mass-transit.

        You hate cars.

        You’re on this site.

        QED.

        Reply
        • John C.

          Your formulation is junk in, junk out. It is trucks that I hate, beyond commercial uses as below a man’s dignity. I have never owned one, something I can’t say about cars made in Hiroshima.

          As far as mass transit, I do miss street cars, yes and blame GM. As far as mandating it, depends who we propose to mass transit where. In Atlanta, mass transit is called MARTA, which everyone joked, back when people were allowed jokes, stood for Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta. I believe if the system was repurposed to Moving Africans Rapidly out of Atlanta, the belief in mass transit would have skyrocketed.

          Reply
          • JustPassinThru

            Since I’d never lived in Atlanta and never heard that backronym…your conclusion there is more junk.

            Streetcars went away for reasons that had NOTHING to do with GM. They pled No Contest in civil action, to make the accusations go away – another miscalculation.

            Streetcars went away because maintaining tracks, routes, overhead wires, are all fearfully expensive. AND INFLEXIBLE.

            I have worked in mass transit, in Kent, Ohio and Denver. Routes in Denver were adjusted and sometimes redone, every SIX MONTHS. Because people move; neighborhoods are built, others decline or change in character.

            In Cleveland, there is a heavy-rail rapid-transit line…now called the Red Line, or the Airport-Windermere Rapid. It was the last vestige of the Cleveland Streetcar Company, and, while being built, it was taken over by CTS (Cleveland Transit System) and later moved to RTD (the regional successor).

            It ran from Windermere Blvd. to West 117th street. Windermere was in East Cleveland – a wealthy, toney inner-ring suburb. West 117th is the border between Cleveland and Lakewood – again, money, the Lakewood Gold Coast.

            In 25 years, from 1955 to 1975, everything changed. The Cleveland ghetto expanded and enveloped East Cleveland, now one of the most dangerous parts of Cuyahoga County. West 117th is now a run-down working-class environment – “Birdtown” they call it, for the streets in Lakewood nearby, are named for various birds. Meth Central.

            The rapid line was extended to Hopkins International Airport in 1970. Didn’t help, much. Few people who are flying, take mass transit to the airport…mostly, it gets the TSA types to work and home.

            It sits there, a big white elephant…the primary reason it remains, is, it’s always been there. The biggest users are West Siders who park at Brookpark Road Park-N-Ride, and go downtown. And the parochial schoolgirls of Magnificat and St. Joseph. Eye candy…but it would never be built today.

            Streetcars are totally obsolete for today’s mobile, quick-shifting urban environment. They would have disappeared decades ago, anyway – and would have been made-gone faster, without the Federal Government dumping mass-transit subsidies into that bottomless pit.

          • John C.

            I think the trajectory you describe in Cleveland will sound familiar to a great number of bigger cities. I also don’t think streetcars are coming back. The good experiences I have had on them were in Europe where the footprint of a city changes at a glacial pace. During the late Obama years I served on the regional planning board in my area. There was a push, backed by expensive studies, by the bus service to bring back streetcars to our historic district, where I live. They didn’t really think there would be many riders, most riders on the buses are homeless trying to avoid the heat, but there were massive federal subsidies to apply for. Remember the star black mayor of Charlotte going to jail over the inevitable corruption in a similar project. The project in my city went nowhere because it is just too expensive to build anything. I might have ridden it to expand the circle of bars and restaurants walkable from my condo, but on the other hand there are already the sad spectacle of rickshaw bikes ridden by middle age white guys, and I never use those.

          • JustPassinThru

            In Cleveland, there is a heavy-rail rapid-transit line…now called the Red Line, or the Airport-Windermere Rapid. It was the last vestige of the Cleveland Streetcar Company, and, while being built, it was taken over by CTS (Cleveland Transit System) and later moved to RTD (the regional successor)”

            Couple of corrections.

            The predecessor to CTS was called Cleveland Railway Co., not Cleveland Streetcar Company.

            The current regional mass-transit organization was organized as RTA, now called GCRTA. RTD, Regional Transportation District, is Denver’s name for their money-sump bus-and-choo-choo operation.

          • Carmine

            In Miami we have the hilarious Metrorail and Metromover, the Metro mover was such a failure its now completely free to ride on around downtown Miami.

            They used it in Bad Boys 2, so theres that….

            The Metrorail has never turned a profit since it opened 1982, thought the opening day vintage “Budd” train cars have a nice retro vibe……

    • Tom Klockau

      I always pictured the Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon as an AMC Eagle. Since they were at a Chrysler dealer, I also pictured a K-car Town & Country, sans woodgrain.

      Or maybe a 240 Turbo wagon? When they back out of the garage, you can see what must be Clark’s car, it appears to be a blue early ’80s 240GL or maybe a 264GLE.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        Awful slim pickings for any sort of wagon with sporting pretensions when Clark bought the Family Truckster. BMW and Audi didn’t even make wagons, Mercedes wagons all came with lethargic diesels, Japanese wagons were all 1.6 liter 72 HP tin boxes, and American wagons were all V-6 and V-8 wheeze boxes with 95 to 105 HP. The Eagle and Volvo Turbo were probably the sportiest wagons on sale at that time, which is probably why more and more US car buyers were moving to Minivans (not sporty but at least had more room) and SUVs (not sporty but at least could be had with V-8 and “sporty” off-road pretensions). If Clark had had any brains he would have kept the Olds Vista Cruiser.

        Reply
        • CJinSD

          Vacation was a 1983 movie. A neighbor I worked for used to let me drive his Escort or Lynx wagon with every cosmetic performance option including TRX wheels and tires. It was the first lease I ever heard about, and he was trying to get Ford Credit to pick it up because they wouldn’t make it work satisfactorily and he wouldn’t pay until they did, but it was the first time an employer let me drive a car. I was thirteen years old. I learned to drive a stick when I was nine, so I don’t even recall which transmission it had, but that’s the car I thought of when Clark said he ordered a Super Sports Wagon. My neighbor replaced it with a new BMW 318i 4-door the moment they were available as 1985 models in 1984. I don’t recall if there was any fallout from using it as a trade-in or not. I don’t think I ever drove that BMW, which was soon traded in for a Dodge Ramcharger.

          Reply
      • Carmine

        Its suggested somewhere that in the gas station scene where the mother and son are fueling up next to Clark in a blue AMC Eagle wagon, that THAT is supposed to be the Antarctic Blue Sportswagon.

        Reply
  6. John C.

    Interesting many of the normal suspects among the import humpers chime in how this car was the breath of fresh air or the last car that mattered, but to hear actual experience with one of the millions sold, you have to listen to actual people that give domestics a chance. I think a useful data point against the Ford decision to try to build cars for import buyers.

    Interesting that Ford then doubled down with the Escort becoming a Mazda, The Tempo becoming a German Mondeo and even the Taurus itself becoming a Mazda 6 under the Fusion name. Or course all ash canned now, but did any sell at even half the rate of the last designed in America aimed at the domestic market offering? Showed how hard it is to admit a mistake, especially when it was your last one.

    Reply
    • Trucky McTruckface

      Interesting that you owned one of these, complain that it was too European, but now drive an import.

      At least you admit that it was mechanically junk.

      Reply
    • stingray65

      Let me see if I have this right John. Those of us who think the Taurus was a smart move and well developed car, that got good reviews from all the buff books and CR, and proved to be a best seller that saved the Ford Motor Company should ignore all that and base our evaluation of the car on your bad experience with a Sable? Meanwhile, those of us that think most of the stuff turned out by Detroit during the 70s and 80s was absolute junk based on personal experience and observation backed up by almost universal derision by the buff books and CR, and caused all of the companies to lose massive market share and almost drove Chrysler and Ford into bankruptcy – we should ignore all that and take your word that Detroit was turning out fine gems for the working man, and if they had only continued on the path of 10 mpg land yachts filled with fake wood and plastic chrome and drippy paint, all would be well in Detroit today. Is that about right John?

      Reply
      • -Nate

        Stingray asked : ” Is that about right John?” .

        Yes , it _is_ right but it’s a whole lot more complicated than that .

        I love my imports but I also love older American iron .

        BTW : I recently drove my 1984 Mercedes 300TD turbo Diesel station wagon on a seriously twisty & hilly sports car outing and I was the #2 car the entire time, they’re _not_ ‘slow’ if you maintain them correctly .

        Won’t chirp the tires no but it easily runs away from most others once it gets going and NO SMOKE either ! .

        =8-) .

        So much hate for imports, Diesels and old death traps here .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • John C.

          Nate remember it was liberals that effectively banned diesel cars from their tiny niche in America, not conservatives. Not without reason. In Euro cities where diesels went beyond just a niche, the level of soot in the air of big cities became intolerable.

          Reply
      • John C.

        It is my position and I believe Ford’s, that Ford’s relative success in the late 80s was higher margin vehicles like the quite good Town Car restyle and mostly the F-150. The Taurus volume was important to the dealers especially when they gave them away to have the vanity of staying high on the sales chart.. I do appreciate your skipping your usual ape comments. Mine was well assembled and had a nice Built with Pride in Atlanta sticker on it.

        You sneer how C/D could never be wrong even knowing how subversive the whole industry is, yet you don’t address the point how putting Ford emblems on foreign stuff did not satisfy import humpers like yourself. You should be an expert on that.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          I never brought up the foreign stuff with a Ford badge on it – you did. Ford never made any money on the US Escort as crappy as it was, which is why they built the 2nd generation off a Mazda. Ford wanted to make a true world car, so they federalized the Mondeo as the Contour, which was a pretty good car but had a small back seat for oversized Americans and was almost the same price as the much larger Taurus, so it didn’t sell very well in the US but sold well in Europe. By the 90s Ford USA had pretty much given up on developing cars and was focusing on SUVs and pickups, which made sense in the era of cheap gas, which made them popular and very profitable – which is basically how Ford has always made their money. Build the same simple and cheap car by the millions – Model T, A, flathead V-8, Fairlane/Galaxie/LTD, Mustang, Explorer, F-150 probably account for 99.9% of the profits Ford ever made. European Fords were almost always technically more interesting and nicer driving than the US stuff – at least from the 1970s on – but they were never very profitable because volume in Europe was too small and production costs were too high.

          Reply
          • John C.

            Of course you never brought up the foreign stuff or the Town Car profit margins, It makes my point not yours. As a conservative, I hope you can at least see that the kind of man! a Torino or Granada(USA) was aimed at was better, and better for society, than what came later among us white men. As such, it is useful to explore why the period cars were like they were rather than your lazy dismissal.

          • CJinSD

            The malaise cars came from a time of malaise. The ones you think were so American were attempts to reflect the glory of the Continental MKIII, a car that was an ersatz Rolls-Royce and wasn’t named for the North American continent. Even the 1955 Chevrolet was as influenced by Pininfarina as the 1986 Taurus was by the Audi 100/5000. America once had design leadership, probably the best example being the Corvair, an attempt to reclaim import buyers.

            The ’70s weren’t exactly the ’50s. Those amazing men you think about in your private moments went to key parties, emulated Hollywood movies, and elected both Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. They sat on their powder while the 55 mph speed limit was passed, and while people like Jane Fonda and John Kerry committed treason on TV. Absolutely nothing you babble about relating to cars also relates to reality.

          • stingray65

            Lincoln never made a significant profit during the glorious days of the Model K V-12, or the original Continental, or the MKII, or the beloved unit body 60s Lincolns, but only during the Town Car days of the 70s and 80s when Lincolns were nothing but tarted up full-size Fords with extra helpings of fake woods, fake chrome, fake RR grills, and an extra helping of numb steering and floaty suspension, but with the same indifferent assembly quality. That is the problem with Detroit generally, in that they never learned how to make profits with relatively low volume cars (i.e. less than 200K units annually) even at the prestige end of the field unless they were simply tarted up mass-market models, and they never learned how to make a profit on small cars even at relatively high volume.

    • JustPassinThru

      Let’s clarify. What I want in a car, is not what you want in a car.

      You want fake wood, fake landau roofs, numb steering.

      I want balance, responsive controls, relatively-high fuel economy. I want the GD thing to last more than four years.

      I don’t GAS about styling cues, beyond tasteful basic proportions.

      That’s why people like me buy Toyotas, and back then, would have bought a Taurus. Why people like you…buy…what you buy.

      Reply
      • John C.

        You are divorced, so you must be worried about what you provided for your children, or even worse that you never reproduced. So you try to console yourself with the ever diminishing returns of thrill seeking. As an intelligent person of maturity, at some level you must understand what you traded for was a pathetic substitute for what the previous 100 generations had, an expanding world. A person, yes a square with loyalty and trust, is just more useful to a productive society. Building for you on the part of a real storied company is just sad.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          John it is time to stop digging the hole you are making for yourself. If I understand your “logic” you are saying that a person without a spouse and children can’t possibly have the correct opinion about cars? Only when JPT has a nagging wife and soccer kids will he appreciate fake wood, plastic chrome, numb steering, 6 foot long hood covering a 2 foot long V-8 delivering 10 mpg in car indifferently designed and assembled by Americans for Americans? Or is it that driving a reasonably sized car that gets decent fuel economy and even offers a little fun handling is responsible for the decline in marriage and fertility? If so, care to explain why the fertility rate was so higher in the US during the Model T days (length 134 inches), and so high in Germany during the Beetle’s heyday (160 inches) or in Italy during the heyday of the Fiat 600 (length 126 inches)?

          Reply
          • John C.

            I am not digging a hole, I am shining a light.

            Do you really think the level of niceness, beyond just the trim style, but the driving ease of the automatic and ample torque and the comfort of heaters and air conditioners at super reasonable price points wasn’t appreciated. By some perhaps. The kind who thought, I am pointing to you automotive journalists, the Mazda GLC lived up to it’s name. When Ford, lacking new ideas, bought in, that was them going off track. Even the Japanese agree with me, look what the Accord and Camry became. The only thing recognizably Japanese about them is the place their profits are sent to, assuming there still are any.

          • stingray65

            I don’t remember the Taurus as being some sort of penalty box just because it didn’t have a fake RR grill, landau roof, or a 129 hp V-8. I’m also pretty sure that the 1980s Camry and Accord had functioning A/C and got 4 speed automatics before their US counterparts, but with the added bonus of excellent build quality and reliability. I also remember that BMW purchased 5 speed automatics from GM Europe during the 1990s, but GM USA still put 4 speed automatics in their Cadillacs and Buicks well into the 2000s. The Germans also beat the Americans in offering multi-zone A/C. In fact, that is the tragedy of the US automobile industry – they were alone in offering effective A/C and smooth automatic transmissions and all manor of other conveniences at prices that average people could afford going back to the 1940s, and they offered all these things in vehicles that were well built and reliable for the standards of their time. But 30 years later they were laggards in almost all these areas while build quality and reliability became relatively poorer at the same time. Expecting US consumers to keep buying US brands that lagged in innovation, convenience, driving pleasure, reliability, and build quality when foreigners (including foreign brands built in the USA) offered better everything is digging a very dark hole.

          • John C.

            Ah finally, back to the Euro humpery, easy to see how the Taurus inspires it.

            How does that song from then go…

            My body’s burning, it starts to shout
            Desire is coming. it breaks out loud
            Lust in cages, till storm breaks loose
            Just have to make it, with someone I choose
            Here I am, Rock you like a hurricane

          • Dirty Dingus McGee

            If John C believed a word of what he is preaching he would sell his Chinese car to the local scrap yard and take that money over to Hemmings classified’s and buy one of those 70’s vintage sleds. There are dozens listed, I’m sure he could find one that meets his standards.

  7. LynnG

    The previous comment that the interior of the car in question is in really good shape for 100K miles and decades is well stated and all the comments on American build quality makes me think I wish Amerian manufactures could get back to the build quality of the 70’s and 80’s, let me explain. I purchased Helen a new Jeep Liberty 2005, said Liberty now has over 250K miles on it and systems are failing one after another. The Liberty uses a quart of oil every 300 miles, I just spent $1K to have the brakes done for the forth of fifth time, All the body bushing are dried out and the garage sprayed them down with oil to eliminate some of the noise the Liberty makes when driving. The Rack and Pinion is out of production and I went through three rebuilt units before finding one that was rebuilt correctly. The list goes on, however, I can not get Helen to get a new car, she says she loves the Liberty, and I have explained that Jeep cancelled the line a decade ago so there are no new ones. Makes me wish for the 1970’s 1980’s if I had got Helen a new RamCharger it would have now be little more then a pile of rust, If I had got Helen a new Bronco II it would have long been gone to the recycle mill and now be part of an Asian appaliance. If it had been a first generation Blazer if would have lone sence worn out. But NO a 2005 Ohio built Jeep Liberty just keeps hanging around and still looks new on the outside after 17 Northern Virginia winters and everything still works. It is just mechanically if is getting little tired, and getting more and more expensive to repair as parts are discontinued. Damn American Build Quality…… 🙂 🙂

    Reply
    • John C.

      Hah, come on Lynn. What are the folks supposed to drive but a tired old car/truck that has outlived any reasonable life expectancy when they engage their welcome to the thunderdome fantasy. Too bad the Liberty doesn’t have the pealing clear coat, it completes the picture.

      Reply
      • LynnG

        JohnC, that is the problem, the orginal paint still shines like day one, not a single speck of rust on the body or undercarrage. Drivers seat showing its age but the AC, power windows and seats still work, radio and CD sounds fine, sun roof does not leak. Then Helen goes out everytime I say she needs to get a new car/truck and she says the Liberty looks fine… Well yes it looks great, stright panel gaps and shining paint, but she has not spent thousands trying to keep it road worthy and watching the oil level to make sure the engine does not burn up. However the garage told me last week that the punkins and the transfer case were on their last legs so I am just waiting for that rock to fall on my head…. 🙂 🙂

        Reply
        • John C.

          The good paint probably comes down to wax and garage space, what really impresses was that 250k engine. I think a few Libertys had the Chrysler 2.4 four, a good engine that impressively matched the horsepower and torque of my Sable’s 3.0 Vulcan without resorting to crazy high revs, but most had that 3.7 that related to the 4.7 V8 with such a bad reputation. Either way 250k is impressive.

          Reply
  8. MD Streeter

    (boy am I late to this part)

    I remember the first generation Ford Taurus as the first car my dad bought new (4-cyl ’87 model), and also by far and away the absolute worst. I remember that thing up on jacks in the driveway while he tried to fix the failing brakes. I remember the month it was absent getting a new motor because the old one quit. I remember the long, ugly gash (really little more than a scratch) I put it the driver’s side door because I rode my bike too close to it and the rubber handholds had broken and slid towards the middle, exposing the rough metal edges of the handlebars and my youngest boy has fulfilled karma by putting similar scratches up and down the side of my dark blue CX-5– you know, that last one really wasn’t the Taurus’ fault…

    Anyway, my dad’s Taurus had endless problems and he was so happy to dump it. Eventually he ended up in an Accord which was like driving a car from a whole different planet, quality-wise. He would later admit that the Taurus was probably the best-handling car he’d owned through the 80s and 90s, but I don’t doubt he was glad to never see it again. I’ve never owned a Ford myself, that sort of experience makes an impression on a boy.

    Reply
  9. -Nate

    Guys ;

    Enough with the DiNoc hate ! .

    It’s just a decal, not the design theory of the entire vehicle .

    I miss street cars and electric trolley buses but the times they do change .

    -Nate

    Reply
  10. gtem

    Read through the entire flame war over lunch just now. I know Jack’s all about keeping this an “anything goes” kind of place and I appreciate that, but I think it’s well past due to say goodbye to John C and his unhinged personal attacks. Just my take.

    Reply
  11. George Denzinger

    Back in the 80’s, I was a big Ford humper. My father had always had Fords (of some stripe) and both of my brothers and I bought Ford products as our first new cars. However, I had been admiring Audis since my trip to Germany to visit relatives in the late 70’s. Many of my relatives had all sorts of Audis and having spent a fair amount of time driving with them in the Alps, I was impressed. When the Taurus was announced I waited with baited breath. However, back at that time, I had two 5.0L Mercury Capris (both on payments!) so I was in no position to buy a Taurus.

    Then one day in 1986, a friend of mine rolls up to my driveway in her brand new Taurus LX. She calls me on her cell phone and tells me to come outside so she can show me her new car. I was stunned by the car, it had all of the 80’s toys you could want on it, the cell phone was the cherry on top. It was the first time in my life I had ever actually wanted a four door car.

    Eventually, Tauruses became commonplace and not particularly noteworthy. When I was selling cars in the early 90’s for a Toyota dealer, we would occasionally see folks trading these in. I distinctly remember a guy coming in with his early build Taurus. When I asked him about the mileage on the car, he said he had nearly 300K on it. Turns out he was some sort of salesman who had a large area to cover.

    Time passed and I never got around to getting a Taurus; after a certain point I never even considered one. Once kids came along, my wife got the “good” car and I was fine with whatever she chose. She was going to drive it, so she should like it. One company I worked for had an “oval” Taurus in the motor pool. Honestly, it drove just like the previous Taurus, but the interior was the hardest thing to get accustomed to. I think that a lot of other folks had the same issue.

    The post-2000 models ended up being my favorite. I drove a bunch of them as rentals actually and got to be pretty familiar with them. They also ended up being a lot of our friends’ kids’ first cars; I think I ended up helping out other dads with their kids Tauruses more than any other car. It’s a shame Ford didn’t read the tea leaves correctly for 1996. A good next gen Taurus may have changed the trajectory of the company and possibly even car tastes in favor of cars well into the 21st Century.

    Reply
  12. CJinSD

    I saw Ford’s newest station wagon on the road the other day. This Taurus was so much better than what they’re doing now, and all the press-release regurgitation that’s accompanying it. Autoblog pubished that, “It looks cooler and drives better because it’s a Mustang,” about something that is only a Mustang because it is wearing a Mustang badge. I guess we’re supposed to pretend to believe that trans-Mustangs are real Mustangs.

    Reply
  13. Erik

    ‘Automatic transmission shifts as it should”. So it hunts, slips and clunks into gear? We replaced an Audi 5000, with a 5 speed manual yet, that I’d somehow convinced my dad to buy, with a 1986 Sable in a horrible taupe colour. But, I have to say, it was a dramatically better car then the Audi in every way. Reliability was leagues better, and while corrosion did attack the Sable, it again was less then the Audi that came before it. The upholstery and trim bits were all of good quality. Even the Sable transmission, as poorly as it performed in many ways, with regular fluid changes, lasted the life of the car.
    The Taurus/Sable were really great cars, that should have just gotten a Japanese style, conservative development.

    Reply

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