Sometimes, Love Hurts

CruiserDealer

It’s been a little over a year since I bought my 2013 Ford Taurus SEL, and 22k miles later, we’re still working things out.

The “love affair with a car” is well-documented among the gearhead community, and no stranger to this blog. With every vehicle a guy like me buys, there are always things we love right away, things we already think about improving/modifying/changing, and things we hope we can learn to live with.

I dare say there is no such thing as the perfect car, and just like relationships with other humans, there is a game of give and take. The 2005 Dodge Magnum R/T I traded for the Taurus was a very nice machine with its share of attributes, but its thirsty nature, nagging front end parts rattling (no matter how many you replaced it seemed) and the annoyingly dangerous cutting off for no explainable reason put us at odds. That was actually a shame since ‘Maggie’ was one of the most comfortable cars I’ve owned in a long while.

Conversely, the Taurus has been very reliable outside of normal maintenance, and some standard modifications have upped the driving fun factor quite a bit. The factory airbox did its best to mute a pronounced growl even under part-throttle, so I knew a K&N Typhoon kit would pay huge melodic dividends, and it didn’t disappoint. A full throttle blast now produces a howl more akin to an angry tiger than any raging bull I’ve ever heard. Gearheads love a dilemma like this, knowing that any additional tone added through better exhaust is a pure bonus.

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The Summit chambered mufflers used so successfully on my convertible provided a true horsepower concert on the Taurus, and the stint around Virginia International Raceway at the Laps for Charity event was glorious. There were plenty of faster, more powerful cars in attendance, but I can say with confidence, few got any more enjoyment in those fifteen minutes than I did.

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The upgraded wheel/tire combo and drilled/slotted rotors with ceramic pads stepped up the stopping/cornering capability, and while the big sedan will never masquerade as a sports car, it acquitted itself with dignity.

For pure fun and show, I recently added a cowl induction hood bulge and ‘whale tail’ decklid spoiler. I’ve always felt a moderate line could be drawn between the miniscule, factory style lip spoiler and the king-hell carbon fiber picnic tables found on certain extreme models. Both the units I installed are certainly noticeable, but I feel they fall short of overkill. My inspiration came from the muscular Ford Falcon produced Down Under. The Aussie Supercar racing series shames NASCAR in my opinion, and the Falcon sedan is everything the Taurus SHO wishes it could be. No deference to the SHO, but the Falcon V8/RWD is the modern rendition of old fashioned brute musclecar. If the Mustang GT somehow grew into a semi-practical sedan, it would be an Aussie Falcon.

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Back to that ‘love hurts’ thing. I’ve noted every Ford product I’ve sat in of late is equipped with a ‘dead pedal’ as a footrest to the left of the brake. The wart under the carpet robs an enormous amount of legroom if you’re in the over-six-foot category. Unless of course you dig that bent-knee sitting style. I’ve made several lengthy road trips in the Taurus, and the dead pedal becomes a curse against all that is holy after an hour or two. I’m exploring ways to remove it but the excess carpet will be another issue.

In the effort to provide more legroom, the first option is always move the seat back. Needless to say, this has already been done, but it results in the need for orangutan length arms to hold the steering wheel. The wheel is telescoped to its full extension, but another inch or two would make worlds of difference in comfort.

While the interior of a pure racing machine is both Spartan and designed for raw functionality, it is also incredibly adjustable. If you’ve ever seen a driver change at Le Mans, you’ll note the onboarding driver pitching away a molded foam seat liner while quickly inserting another before he hops into the cockpit. These cushions are formed to the shape of each individual driver, and oh, how I wish that were an option on my car.

It’s a pretty cool feeling for any car-guy when you walk out to the parking lot an see someone taking a picture of your car. It’s equally cool when folks admire and compliment you at the gas pump, and better still when the driver of true performance machine flashes you a thumbs-up. All wonderful things that have salt poured on them when your back hurts, your leg is cramping, and your arms are limp from fatigue.

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But just like life, the people you love are worth fighting for, and so I will soldier forward. The dead pedal is looking like a simple fix. The seat is scheduled for some cushion doctoring, and the steering wheel remains a dilemma without a clear answer. But for now, I’ll take two out of three.

The road trips of spring and summer await, and the ‘Knight Owl’ has already shown its prowess for highway cruise-missile mode. The cockpit needs tweaking, but that’s what car-guys are all about.

– T. August Green

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