Junkyard Find: 1987 Ford Taurus LX

junkyard find 1987 ford taurus lx
Ford sold just a hair under two million first-generation Tauruses during the 1986 through 1991 model years, so these cars still show up regularly in the car graveyards I frequent. I won’t bother documenting an early Taurus at Ewe Pullet unless it’s something interestingly rare and/or weird— say, an MT-5 model with manual transmission or a factory-hot-rod SHO or a Groovalicious Purple Princess of Peace wagon— and today’s Junkyard Find certainly qualifies. This wretched-looking hooptie began life as a top-trim-level Taurus LX with just about every possible option, found in a Denver-area self-service yard recently.
The LX was the king of Tauruses in 1987, lording it over the lowly GLs, MT-5s, and Ls. The MSRP on this one started at $14,613 (about $38,410 in 2022 dollars), while the Taurus L sedan listed at $10,491 ($27,575 now). But, as we’ll see, this car cost far more than just $14,613 when the first owner signed on the line which is dotted.
We’ll start with the digital instrument panel. I didn’t even know the Taurus had such a thing until I discovered a 1987 ad for the Aromalyte cigarette-lighter-powered air freshener, which featured a rad 1980s dude behind the wheel of what was clearly a Ford equipped with a digital dash. This “Electronic Instrument Cluster” cost 351 bucks extra ($922 today), and fell somewhere between the staid Toyota Cressida digital dash and the video-game-style Subaru XT digital dash on the 1980s Digital Dash Silliness Spectrum. This is the first Taurus digital cluster I’ve ever seen in person, but I didn’t buy it for my [s]hoard[/s] collection.
Why didn’t I buy it, you ask? This poor car was completely trashed by the time its days on the road ended, and I have enough experience with fragile 1980s Ford electronics to know that there’s no way a complex assembly like that cluster could have survived years of polarity-reversed jump-starts, projectile-vomiting passengers, angry fists pounding the dash during traffic jams, neighbors’ glue-sniffing cousins replacing gauge light bulbs using only Vise-Grips for the entire procedure, hantavirus-vector rodents nesting in the wiring harness, and all the other abuses that must have taken place during this car’s final years.
At some point, the final owner parked this Taurus in a lot whose owner called a towing company, and that’s all she wrote.
Someone did put a fair amount of work into a three-tone rattlecan paint job, which demonstrates a certain level of affection for this once-illustrious Ford. Did it have a name?
Air conditioning was standard equipment on the ’87 LX, but you had to pay $183 extra ($481 today) for these electronic controls.
If you wanted to do justice to the amazing music of 1987, you couldn’t get the LX’s base AM/FM radio (or get 206 bucks back for the radio-delete choice). This $137 ($360 in 2022) auto-reverse cassette deck with Dolby was the ticket.
If you wanted a power antenna on your ’87 Taurus, you had to pay 76 dollars ($200 now) and you had to use this switch to operate that antenna.
Ford’s distinctive keyless-entry system had been around since 1980 (and still exists today), and this car has it. It cost 202 frogskins ($530 today).
My reference books don’t break down the contents of Ford’s numerous “Value Option Packages” for the ’87 Taurus, but I’m sure the power windows and locks came in every one of them. If purchased individually, the cost came to $491 ($1,290 after inflation).
Ford zealot Sajeev Mehta tells me that these cornering lights are among the rarest of all options on the early Taurus, and he experienced great sadness when I sent him photos of this car. Since they were only 68 spondulix ($179 now), I don’t understand why more Taurus buyers didn’t get them.
On and on the options and upgrades go, and I didn’t even check for stuff like the extended-range fuel tank or heavy-duty suspension.
We can assume that the out-the-door cost of this car must have been pretty close to that of a new Lincoln Mark VII by the time the dust settled over the options list.
One thing that didn’t cost extra on the ’87 Taurus LX was this 3.0-liter Vulcan V6, rated at 140 horsepower. Lesser Tauruses got the 2.5-liter HSC, which was two-thirds of a 1962 Thriftmaster straight-six.
The only Tauruses to get manual transmissions were the El Cheapo MT-5 (available only for the 1985 through 1988 model years) and the high-performance 1989– 1995 SHO. In 1987, the LX sedan and all Taurus wagons got a four-speed automatic with overdrive, while the other two-pedal Tauruses received a three-speed automatic (unless their buyers forked over a stack of 672 greenbacks— 1,765 current greenbacks, that is— for that extra overdrive forward gear).
It appears that this car was sold new in this area, at a dealership about 13 miles to the northwest of its final parking spot just south of Denver. The Crusher is conveniently located, as you’d expect.
My guess is that this car was treated well while in the hands of its first through third owners, but its value hit triple digits about a decade back and commenced a long downward spiral into its current condition.
As good as this car looks, it won’t take you to the cleaners… unless you want to go there.
The Taurus did look futuristic in 1986 and 1987 (though Audi beat Ford to the flush-windows rounded look).
We get a brief glimpse of the digital dash in this ad.For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, take a look at the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.[Images by the author]
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  • CaddyDaddy CaddyDaddy on Jul 12, 2022

    As deservedly bad as the Chrysler Co. Ultradrive was, the AXOD should rate on the same level of garbage slush boxes. I did 3 gearboxes in 120K mi. Glad I had the extended warranty, I'm sure there was a pink slip for the actuarial department estimating extended warranty premiums for the Taurus / Sable models. 3.8L FUEL INJECTION - that is another pile of steaming head gasket blowing manure to discuss.

  • Brett Woods Brett Woods on Jul 13, 2022

    Ford Taurus hit it out of the park blockbuster car of the future.

  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.