I was previously the lucky owner of a '93 Sable with its notorious 3.8L and it's equally inferior ATX. I wanted another Sable, but the 3.0L was too underpowered for the car and the 3.8L was not an option without a warranty. I really wanted something with power like my Mustang GT, but with room for the family. I thoroughly researched the Taurus SHO before purchase, and felt it would be the best fit for my needs. I made a good choice; this car can really roll with the best! Like my Sable, I picked up a loaded SHO; Leather bucker seats (6-way power adjustable), tilt, cruise, pwr locks and windows, pwr sunroof, etc, etc. Unlike the Sable, this car came with a 3.0L DOHC motor designed and built by Yamaha. Yamaha certainly knows their stuff! Dual intake runners help this motor achieve its rock-steady torque through most of the range up to the cutoff at 7400 rpm. While the torque is not gut-busting like my Mustang (around 190 vs. 270 lb-ft to the wheels), it envelops a much larger range, so I get to stay in gear much longer. The 220hp rating seems on the weak side, too! Engine sounds like an F1 motor up high, just not that loud! It seems the motor is also fairly bullet-proof, too, if cared for. Some list members are beyond 250,000 miles!
While the motor may be unique and outstanding, the rest of the car is all Ford. I’ve replaced the cam sensor, and the A/C dryer tank is rusting badly (who still uses steel in the A/C system, and then uses bad paint on it?). The previous owner replaced the Multi-function relay that controls the fuel pump, engine fan and A/C clutch.
The clutch had issues at the start of the car line in '89 (too small), and continued to have problems due to the throw-out bearing eating into the pressure plate fingers (not made for 7400 rpm shifts?). Mine, however, made it to 42,000 miles; with the last 10,000 miles including numerous track passes and timed runs. Some say it does not live long enough, but I see those guys at the track! I suspect that normal driving would yield a clutch with a normal lifespan.
The transaxle works well. It has a very positive feel with slightly notchy shifting. The gear ratios are a good compromise between racing and driving comfortably. Can't complain about the 3.73 final! There seems to be an issue with the differential, as there are a number of people that have had them lose pins, which subsequently tore up the case. Again, many that have broken these seem to be enthusiast, racers, or pedal mashers, so it may not be an real issue, but I think US cars in general today could be built a bit stronger.
Suspension. By 1995, Ford engineered most of the "sport" handling out of the SHO. The suspension I got is the same as the regular Taurus/SLO, although the brake rotors are larger. The car was really comfortable with its oem suspension. It has a Smooth ride, with good control. I quickly upgraded mine, but can't say anything bad about stock handling. My wife loved the way it handled. It’s smooth, but it’s no boat! If you want better control, retrograde to the earlier SHO swaybars and springs (or go aftermarket).
Exhaust: No poor quality parts, but a 90º turn into the rear catalytic converter robs the motor of breathing room. A performance y-pipe netted me an addition 11 hp.
I’ll not waste space by discussing the general merits of the Taurus. We’ve all seen them, and know they have large trunks and seating for 5 (depending…). What I will do is list things unique to the SHO, as this is what I am reviewing.
From the ground up:
Larger 16” wheels
Larger Brake Rotors (almost perfect~ touch too small)
Stronger Drive shafts
Dual mufflers and nice looking stainless exhaust tips (2-1-2 exhaust system)
Unique front and rear bumper skins and lower body cladding
24V DOHC front fender badges (no DOHC regular Taurus until 1996)
Unique headlamp layout; Sable turn lamps and headlamps, with a “fish tank” in between.
Unique hood. Looks like a Sable’s hood, but the underside is modified for clearance.
Rear Spoiler with integrated third light (option on regular Taurus, but not with light IIRC)
“Blacked-out” side mirrors (not really an improvement!)
SHO emblem on dash in front of passenger seat
SHO emblem on hood pad
24V, DOHC motor features:
Dual-length intake runners, controlled by a set of butterfly valves
Cast, but tuned length exhaust manifold (looks like shorty headers)
Triple baffled oil pan with integral structural support design (for a Taurus????)
Tight crank clearances (0.001”)
Absolutely gorgeous intake! This is the most aggressive looking intake on a production car, and it is painted a shade that contrasts well with the body paint.
As a side note, I get 32mpg at 75mph in this car. My Mustang doesn’t come remotely close to this. The one downside to owning this car would be that some replacement parts for the motor are unique and tend to be quite pricey. You definitely want to take care of the motor to avoid having to pay later. Since I race my SHO, I replaced all crank bearings for insurance. At 75k miles, none of the bearings were eve close to the limit of clearance. Also, there were no wear marks on the cylinder walls~ they weren’t even shiny! They looked like the motor just came from assembly; 100% crosshatch marks are visible. Thank you Yamaha!