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MotorWeek reviews the 1989 SHO

by DrivingEnthusiast

Yamaha SHO DOHC V-6Yes, 1989 SHO. One of the truly better ideas built by Ford built during the renaissance lead by people like Donald Peterson. To we middle-aged enthusiasts, those were our “good old days” – since we weren’t old enough to drive in the 60’s muscle car era and since the cars of the late eighties and nineties were much faster and better anyway. Ford offered performance models of the Thunderbird, Mustang and Taurus straight from the factory. Each offered special technologies: a supercharged V-6 in the Thunderbird coupled with an advanced suspension (double A-arm front, independent rear), a high winding engine built by Yamaha in the Taurus SC, and a fuel injected V-8 in the Mustang (coupled with a stone age suspension not unlike that of the 2011 Mustang). We’ve owned about a dozen Mustangs from that era, although unfortunately we never had a chance to own a Thunderbird SC (although thanks to Hertz premium rentals at DFW we’ve put several hundred miles on rental SCs – usually – thanks a lot Hertz – without the benefit of the required high-octane gas). Our greatest disappointment? That Ford of North America still can’t get its act together to offer the best of these technologies in a single rear wheel drive car.

The Taurus SHO was the most exotic of the three, although given it’s stealthy styling the casual spectator certainly couldn’t tell. But inside and it was a very special product that Ford planners and engineers put a lot of unique engineering and suspension tuning effort into. So much so that here we are 21 years later still thinking of our time with our own 1989 SHO. We clearly remember our pre-purchase road test (spinning the wheels accidentally coming out of the Ford dealership), our 1700 mile cross-country drive a few days later, the 3-day mud-covered drive thru fabulous forest roads in Pennsylvania spectating at an SCCA Pro Rally a year later, and 80 thousand miles later trading it in for – surprisingly – almost no depreciation. And then there was our ride in the Bondurant SHO. WOW!

And we remember issues aplenty, including the back-breaking Lear-Seigler sport seats, the abominable windshield wipers that were so weak that they got progressively worse at speed until they stood straight up at 85 MPH (which is not what you want to discover on the QEW passing over Lake Ontario in wet snow while on the way to the Anchor Bar 90 miles away), and the cracked transmission case (thankfully covered by the 100k warranty, along with all the other ills). But issues aside, the SHO had very special attributes which taken together made it a consistently fun drive and one of the best 4-door sports sedans we’ve ever owned. It won’t hold a candle to modern sedans such as a G37S, but it was the best 4-door sport sedan you could buy at the time and it was very likely the fastest for several years in a row.

Our own 1989 SHO was an an exact duplicate of SHO tested by MotorWeek below. Like theirs, ours was built well before the SHO even went on sale. So early that it was probably one of the first off the assembly line. The following video is from a new model-year introduction… unfortunately A video of their later full test doesn’t seem to be available on YouTube. But enjoy. And think back to a day and age when the Taurus had it’s own unique engine, not one shared with trucks and over-weight Lincolns. And of the day when a SHO weighed nearly a full thousand pounds less than the obese boat Ford has the nerve to label “SHO” these days….

Recently we passed on an opportunity to buy an exact duplicate of our 1989 SHO, as well as an opportunity to buy an immaculate Thunderbird SC. Too bad… but then we’ve been there and done most of that. We may still go for the SHO or SC one of these days, but  there are a lot of other great classic cars to explore and our heart is currently set on a 240Z (which could certainly use a SHO engine swap!).

On our site, you’ll find lots more SHO news in the “Ford Taurus SHO” category and “SHO” tags, as well as in the “Engine Swap” category “old SHO engines never die”).

And visit the special SHO section on our website for lots more information as well as the story of our own ownership experiences: http://www.drivingenthusiast.net/sec-ford/special-report-sho/index.html.

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