1 Mar 1996
By CHRIS HARRIS
In the USA, the original 1986 Taurus, with its European styling and advanced specification, saved the ultra conservative US arm of the Ford Motor Company and helped change American car buyer’s tastes.
To know this may help understand why the misguided 1996 Taurus Mk2, which allegedly cost billions of dollars to develop, was so radically designed.
It was meant to maintain its predecessor’s reputation for boldness while sustaining its hard-fought market-leadership against Japanese models such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. But many American buyers could not come to terms with the Taurus’ wilfully egg-like looks, and sales stumbled.
At least over there, people knew what a Taurus was and where it belonged.
From the outset of its Australian launch in early ’96, the orphan Ford’s prestige-segment pricing, relatively tight packaging and front-wheel drive layout also alienated it from traditional Ford buyers (who sooner chose the cheaper, better-balanced Fairmont or Fairlane instead), while its lack of badge credos did it no favours against more established prestige rivals.
Still, it was well-equipped (dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, climate control air-con, cruise control, CD player), reasonably powerful, thanks to a 149kW 3.0-litre quad-cam V6 engine, pleasantly refined to drive and quite comfortable.
And did I mention its distinctively offbeat styling?