The Bull Stops Here

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My favorite automotive journalist, Peter Egan, once said, and I’m paraphrasing here,“Never say this is the last car I’m ever going to buy, because as sure as you say it, something will happen to make you eat those words.”

Mr. Egan is a member of the over-65 club, and he’s had his share of daily drivers, project cars, and motorcycles. When someone of his stature and experience speaks about the automotive realm, I tend to listen or at least read carefully. Anyone who has a weakness for British sports cars, despite their woeful reliability has to possess a passion that transcends logic.

I’m only about a decade junior to this man I regard so highly, and when the road behind looks longer than the road ahead, your thoughts take a different turn. I’ve always admired the person who latches onto a car and never wants to let it go. I’ve never owned a car for a decade (six years is my record I believe) but I’ve never stopped searching for that magical connection.

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At least I think I’m halfway there since the Chrysler 200 convertible I shelter in my garage, well, half the garage, is a car I’ve come to adore. I love how it looks, glistening metallic red as it sits in the driveway on a sunny day. I love it even more with the top down, and driving it on a summer afternoon/evening is one of the more potent drugs I’ve ever encountered. I recently saw an unknown quote that made me laugh with both amusement and self-admission.

“The passion for cars is a deeper addiction than either alcohol or drugs. They have therapy and recovery programs for those things, but there is no known cure for cars.”

I’ll probably never own an exotic sports car, but my Chrysler 200 “Roadrunner” convertible is just as valuable to me. I can’t stop giggling at the glorious roar its 300hp V6 sings into the air and it manages to do so without making me regret it at the gas pump. Suffice to say I’m immensely happy with the car, but my dilemma falls in the spot of the driveway where the daily driver gets parked.

I’ve never been able to own a car for just utility purposes and nothing more. I’ve been exposed to my share of company owned vehicles that are simply driven, abused, and worked until they die miserably in their tracks. I’ve also seen my share of people who treat their personal cars in much the same way, and it bothers me in the same way other people display long faces over un-adopted pets. I take nothing away from the pets (I love a huge, lazy cat) but even going to the salvage yard makes me wish cars could talk and spin yarns of the places they’ve been.

The last three daily driver cars I’ve owned have probably been my most desperate efforts to keep a car long-term. Bonnie the Ghosthawk came close, and Maggie the 21st turned out to be an ill-fated effort despite her attributes, but now a 2013 Taurus has rolled into my driveway and I cautiously hope this could be a true keeper.

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My loving bride tells me I wish for too much, that there is no perfect car, and I must concede her point. Then again, the relationship I have with her isn’t perfect either, but I wouldn’t part with her for the world.

Part of my present situation will be forced, as a job change and the drive to improve our financial status are now larger priorities. I was also cautioned heavily against “decorating” as she puts it, with regard to the personal touches I tend to add to every car I’ve owned. Well, not tend to, I absolutely do add certain items that make the car more “me.”

I’m sure in time I’ll do the same with this one, but thankfully, in the first few days of ownership there are very few things I’m looking forward to changing. I’ve put custom wheels and tires on just about everything I’ve owned (can’t remember the last time I didn’t) but the meaty 19-inchers on the Taurus give it an aggressive stance, so no rush there. A new air filter intake and different mufflers are also regular additions since I love the music of horsepower, but the stock dual exhausts deliver a muted growl, so improving on that without going overboard will require careful research.

Other cosmetic touches will probably come with glossy black spray paint. Blacked-out accents that lend an air of the Taurus Police Interceptor will certainly be on the menu.

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Maybe this was the sub-conscience attraction to this car from the beginning. I’ve always had a strange soft spot for a police cruiser. In my youth, snapping up an ex-police car was a budget-minded way to snag a performance machine. The rich kids laughed as they tooled around in the sporty coupes their parents bought for them, but the trooper-ride was serious bang-for-the-buck. Beefy V8 engines with rumbling exhausts came standard, as did low-buck interiors and basic black paint jobs, but they were a hoot to drive and many people strangely moved out of your way on the highways at night. Self-imposed guilt is an amazing thing.

I’ve owned two former police cruisers, and while neither lasted long due to age and hard miles, they were both great fun while they lasted. When Ford killed off the long-toothed Crown Vic, I thought their fleet duty days were finished. I never thought the Taurus of all things would become the peace officer weapon of choice, but it has become a common sight on the highway, and they look more ominous every time I see one.

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Before the restyled 2010 Taurus made its debut, Ford showed a brawny concept sedan called the Interceptor. Rumor had it the muscular V8, rear wheel drive machine was destined to be successor to the Crown Vic, carrying the fleet torch forward (hence the concept name) but hard economic times along with a more pressing need to build a car-based sport utility to replace the aging Explorer forced the Ford design team in a different direction. The new Explorer was an instant hit, and the return of the performance SHO to the Taurus line-up was also welcomed, but little did we know Ford was only teasing us with the basis for their next-gen police cruisers.

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Both the Taurus and Explorer boast Interceptor versions, although Ford expressly says they are NOT Taurus or Explorer since the Interceptors differ too greatly to call them domestic names. Okay, Ford, but they sure do look a lot alike!

So it seems my dark blue clad Taurus is next-of-kin to a Police Interceptor? That doesn’t sound like bad pedigree, and who doesn’t like the idea of being a hero under your everyday street clothes?

The Bat is back on Patrol

-T. August Green

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