You know I am the Hooniversal European Editor, when I go ga ga over a 1997 Ford Taurus. Yeah, the ovoid Taurus must be one of the most mundane things you can imagine over at the other side of the pond, but here they’re rare birds. Mondeos are everywhere, Scorpios are common, but a Taurus pops on my radar only seldom.
I’ve been reading Mary Walton’s Car – A Drama of the American Workplace recently, and the book focuses on the difficult birth of the new-for-1996 Taurus. It gives you amazing insight into the process that goes into developing a car they wanted everybody to drive, a car that was built to beat Camry. And it gives you a possibility to try to understand what they were going for with that unspeakable design. Seeing this maroon Taurus in the metal in my town happened with perfect timing, then.
I don’t subscribe to the “What the hell were they thinking” school of thought. It’s really easy to snarl remarks from the comfort of your own desk, listing hundreds and hundreds or ugly cars or failed designs just for quick, disposable amusement. Designing a car takes years of market study, customer awareness, working with the constraints of reality and feasibility and carry-over structures, and getting different engineering departments to gel.
At any rate, thinking of totally rad ’90s trends and how well the Japanese were doing in the early ’90s, you sort of start to see the world with Taurus eyes. Clouded over with headlight cataract by now, as you can see.
You can scrape the corner of a car with no corners, apparently.
At least you can’t blame it of DLO fail. The aftermarket winter wheels are horrid, though, and practically any other wheels would suit it better. I do like the little lip spoiler on the trunklid, and it’s nicely incorporated with the taillights.
I don’t like the following Taurus generation at all, it feels like a half-assed attempt at rescuing the looks. I’d rather celebrate the appearance than try to hide it under a different nose and tail.
The tack-on foglight and the rusty tow bar are like warts on the face of a bearded Mona Lisa.
I like to think that at some point there were people standing behind the car, confidently launching it onto the market. Maybe it’ll become a design classic, when rounded late-’90s headlight setups like this are celebrated. The facelift Tiburon, the W210 E-Class, the Jaguar S-Type… Yeah, it’ll take a while.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]