2010 Mobsteel Ford Taurus SHO: First DriveS

The thing with the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO is that, while it's pretty fast, it's also pretty docile. Mobsteel set out to fix that with an extra 90 hp, 147 lb-ft of torque, and a mess of billet aluminum.

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When the new SHO was unveiled it carried a huge weight on its shoulders. On paper the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter, 365 HP EcoBoost engine, all-wheel drive, slick new sheet metal and handsome interior were a sure winner, but the SHO's not really as awesome as its spec sheet or historic badge make it sound. It's fast and handles pretty well for a full-size sedan, but it lacks involvement and fun. Word is, Ford's engineers planned to call the more powerful version the "Taurus EcoBoost" until the evil marketing department stepped in and slapped the "Super High Output" moniker on something that didn't really deserve it. We actually prefer the plain-Jane 2010 Ford Taurus to its more powerful sibling.

Enter Mobsteel. Four weeks before the 2009 SEMA show, Ford delivered a pre-production SHO to their shop in Brighton, MI and off they went. Up front they fabricated a new grille, replacing the electric-razor look alike with a nice wire mesh, the side skirts on the doors were cut away leaving slick treatments along the ends of the wheelbase, the fender vents have been narrowed and lengthened along the door and cut from aluminum, out back there's a new lower fascia with CNC machined exhaust tips and a matching aluminum bar connecting the tail lights. Underneath there's air ride suspension with four-way tunable shocks, a stiffer anti-roll bar and Mobsteel's own custom-forged two piece wheels doing a terrible job of hiding monster cross-drilled Brembos with six-piston calipers.

2010 Mobsteel Ford Taurus SHO: First DriveS

So it's got the style and the suspension bits, but under the hood is where it's at. The official 3.5-liter Ecoboost power chart lops off the top of the torque curve, keeping things level at 350lb-ft from 1500 all the way to 5,000 RPM. Very sad. Mobsteel isn't limited to such things as "long term durability" and "warranty costs," so after they procured the fuel and turbo pressure maps from Ford, they spent night and day squeezing power out of the engine. The result? An additional 90 HP and 147 Lb-Ft of torque at the wheels, verified on two different dynos. Assuming a 20 percent drive train loss due to the automatic transmission and AWD, our elementary school math results in an estimation of 458 HP and 517 Lb-Ft at the crank.

We met up with the Mobsteel crew at Paper Street in Ferndale and had a chance to hop behind the wheel, the difference is palpable. Mash the gas on straightaways and the unrestricted twin-turbo mill delivers a sense of violence the regular SHO lacks. You can light up all four wheels in first gear now, while second pushes the car through the legal speed limit. Where the regular SHO can turn in a respectable 1/4 mile time of 13.7 seconds, the Mobsteel SHO manages a seriously impressive 12.4-second time. That's considerably faster than the Hennessey MaxBoost 435 Lincoln MKS that Matt drove and up there with that fastest of Fords, the 2010 Shelby GT500.

The air suspension helps the car ride firm and flat and even manages to find some of the feel the SHO is so noticeably lacking.

2010 Mobsteel Ford Taurus SHO: First DriveS

The thing is, this car isn't done yet. The limiting factor on power for the 3.5-liter Ecoboost is the cam-driven higher-pressure fuel pump. It can only provide a finite amount of volume for the pressures associated with direct-injection. With the engine re-tune it's sucking up all that fuel lower in the rev range which leaves it starved for juice just as things really get going. Boo. The solution will come in the form of a much high-pressure fuel pump, but that's still being developed.

What the Mobsteel Taurus has shown us is the potential the 3.5 Ecoboost mill has. While the mountain of constant torque is okay in the regular SHO, it lacks the headiness you get when a motor really winds out. Unshackling the engine turns the 2010 model into a rightful heir to the SHO throne and even though Mobsteel's styling changes might not be for everyone, you have to respect a fat-bottomed family sedan that'll smoke your garden variety muscle car on a drag strip.