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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Greenlight 2012 Ford Taurus SHO, Matchbox 2011 Ford Interceptor and 1987 Mercury Sable Wagon



The Ford Taurus is not the ideal car to be a perfect diecast replica, but the truth is its hard to ignore the success of the first-generation and the fact that it replaced the Thunderbird in NASCAR starting in 1998.  Since then the Taurus has lost its Mercury Sable cousin, revived on a larger platform, and is now serving police duty in the Ford line.


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The most aero sedan in the 1980's

With the fuel crisis on everyone's mind in the 1970's, Ford started to finally adopt their aero styling that was seen on many concept cars into production.  The first to get this was the Ford Sierra for Europe, though it would not come to the US until the Merkur brand was born.  Right before that, Ford release the new 1986 Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable to go after the growing Japanese sedans.  The styling was smooth all-around, with the Sable getting a front light bar that would be illuminated starting in 1987.  The interior had a pleasant dash layout with easy to reach controls and a roomy interior with seating for five or six.  The wagon offset the heavy LTD wagons for a more nimble and compact look and feel while still retaining its versatility, one of which also includes a backwards-facing third-row.  The top powertrain was the 3.0L V6 that produced 140 hp with a 4-speed automatic to the front wheels.  Suspension was struts at the front and a beam axle at the rear.  The Taurus got off to great fanfare and won many awards.  In 1989 the high-performance SHO model appeared with a Yamaha DOHC V8 and a 5-speed manual.  The styling of the Taurus would mitigate to other Ford lines including the Mustang, Thunderbird, Escort, and even the Ford Explorer and F-150.


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In 1996 a new change for the second-generation brought more ovid styling (especially the wagon) that was more controversial than the first-generation.  Combine that with a SHO that was not as sporty as the first-generation and it was a fail for Ford.  In 2000 an emergency refresh smooth out the loose bubbles in the lights for a more conventional look, though ditching the SHO in the progress.  Wasn't enough:  Ford replaced the Taurus with the Five Hundred in 2005, only to be revived yet again in 2007 on the updated Five Hundred platform (crazy, huh?) , yet the best was to come when in 2010 Ford showed off its first new look for the Ford line with the new Taurus.  Featuring the same smooth styling but with a more bolder look that includes a grille that resembles the head of an electric razor, and straight lines along the round body.  The interior was up-level with higher-end trim pieces and a nice layout, though it would later prove that the interior would be too small compared to the Fusion thanks to the backward-angled dashboard.  At least the trunk is roomy.  One major change was the lack of the Sable cousin as the Mercury brand was discontinued by Ford.


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Powertrains range from the 3.5L DOHC V6 producing 263 hp, the SHO model with the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.5L V6 producing 365 hp., or starting in 2013 the turbocharged 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 producing 240 hp.  All are backed through a 6-speed automatic and with front-wheel or all-wheel drive on an independent suspension setup.  Also joining the Taurus, but prefers not to be called the Taurus, is the Ford Interceptor in 2012.  Something with manufacturing delays released the Interceptor to agencies in 2013 alongside the refreshed 2013 Taurus.  This Interceptor, unlike the former Crown Vic, is designed for those who need a manuverable police cruiser that can also handle the snow belt regions.  The Taurus needs to make up for lost ground in the next generation as the Fusion is about to take over the Taurus for interior room and power.


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Greenlight's flabby Taurus

Greenlight's first foray with Ford licensing started with the Taurus in 2010, offered as a 1:43 and then the 1:64.  This casting has dual roles as the stock SHO model or the Police Interceptor.  This recent version from the Motor World line shows the flaws in this casting.  The details are impressive from the front razor grille to the headlights with the correct light details, the body lines with the crease along the beltline, the taillights with the silver trim connecting the Ford logo and the dual exhaust.  Then you look at the car as a whole and you see it is a bit pudgy-looking, especially at the bottom where the body lines just straighten out, making the correct 5-spoke wheels look small.  This is what really turned me off about this casting when I first saw it, though I do appreciate the blue paint.


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The interior is nicely-done and has all the correct details, from the dash layout, the detailed controls, the 4-spoke wheel, the center console, the shifter that Greenlight likes to assemble backwards, the door panels, and the seat patterns.  Another let down is the base as it shows off a front-engine, rear drive application, which is totally incorrect.  As much as this is a nicely-done casting, I still think the Explorer is better.


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Matchbox's Police Interceptor

While Greenlight takes the nod for the first Taurus Interceptor, Matchbox goes for a lighter and more proper look with their interceptor.  Black seems to be the common cause, with the Fargo, ND and Ford Police versions shown, but also includes other variations in other colors as well.  The body has the correct shape of the actual car, though it seems to be a bit narrower.  The front has the headlights and grille behind the separate push bumper, the rear has the proper placement of the taillights, chrome strip, and dual exhaust on one side, and the roof lights are nice and clean as they blend well with the roof.  The base has the proper format of the Taurus's drivetrain, though its unclear if this is a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive model.  The interior has the same setup as the stock Taurus, but adds a laptop to the center console, a radar box on top of the dash, and if you look close you can see the radar detector next the the inside rearview mirror.  The lighter Matchbox version also feels more nimbler than the Greenlight Taurus, and looks the best as well.  Other diecast manufacturers who've made the Police Interceptor include Jada Toys and Motormax, both of which also produce the 2012 and 2013 refresh versions.


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A wagon not normally seen on "The Brady Bunch"



While being one of the first to do T.V. and film cars, Matchbox quite frankly did a poor job at replicating film cars.  While there were a few correct ones, most of the castings were really off: Willys Hot Rod for a Grease '48 Ford?  a crummy 1980 Firebird for the first Smokey and the Bandit film?  How about a station wagon that is about a decade off from the last The Brady Bunch?  The actual Brady station wagons were all in the late 1960's to early 1970's, including the 1971 Plymouth Satellite that Hot Wheels has recently produced.  This 1987 Mercury Sable wagon is not even close!  Then again for those like me who never got to see or get this casting, this was the last time to do so back in 1998.



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The front-end has clear headlights that are part of the windows that also includes the grille, though that is part of the base.  Speaking of the base, it is coated in silver and all metal, though drivetrain details are limited to a few control arms and exhaust system. The sides show a pretty good profile of the Sable wagon, and the vintage green with wood trim looks good alongside the 1971 Vista Cruiser though the hood graphic could go.  The 8-dot wheels are the only wheels that look good on this casting and the suspension works without making the car feel bouncy.  The rear end is a unique design with a touch of red on the taillights flanked by a painted rear hatch  that is one of the most nicely-curved rear hatch that i've seen in a long time!  It opens up to a roomy cargo area that unfortunately does not feature the hidden third row seat.  The interior is plan but simple and does a nice job of showing the simple setup of the actual Sable's interior.  For those who don't like the tacky wood trim and Brady logo on the hood can look toward the 1988 recolors with just one simple color and no graphics whatsoever.


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It may not be the most exciting car to do, there's plenty to like about the Taurus line, and lets hope more variations of the original come in the future, especially the first-generation SHO model.



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