PCH, Front-Drive Detroit Muscle Edition: Turbo Neon or Taurus SHO?

Illustration for article titled PCH, Front-Drive Detroit Muscle Edition: Turbo Neon or Taurus SHO?

Whoa, we've had two photo finishes in a row now- first Friday's Repo Man Edition and then yesterday's Lancia Thema versus Baldwin Motion Vette Choose Your Eternity polls have really been too close to declare a winner. And tough choices are what Hell is all about, right? Well, that plus a car that would be really, really fun if you could only get the damn thing working. With that in mind, we're going all patriotic with today's tough choices- some folks think that Detroit never could get the front-drive hot rod done right, but what about the Dodge SRT-4 (or, ahem, a somewhat cheaper facsimile) and the Ford Taurus SHO?

Even if you hate the cute lil' Neon (and its overcompensatingly uncute Caliber successor), it's tough to loathe the crazy-ass original SRT-4. But those things sell for well north of $12 grand, and where does that leave us cheapskates? Exactly, you get an early Neon, turbocharge the living piss out of it, and pretend that the stock first-gen suspension and running gear are up to the task! Sure, that's cutting some major corners, but you'll wipe that sour look off your face once you see how cheap this '95 Neon with Garrett turbocharger (go here if the ad disappears) is going for. That's right, 800 bucks, or- looked at another way- pretty much like getting an SRT-4 at almost 95% off! Now, don't go thinking this car is ready to knock off 13-second quarter-mile passes and/or turn heads on the street in its current condition- we readily admit the presence of one or two warts. Like, for example, the fact that the fuel-delivery system hasn't been upgraded to keep up with the air being jammed into the cylinders, and (since the car has probably been driven in its current state for quite a while) that means there might be some, er, issues resulting from the horrendous lean condition (but you can't test the engine to find out, because the oil pan is gone). But hey, new pistons and valves are cheap, right? The body needs some TLC, particularly around the homemade scoop planted somewhat off-kilter on the hood. And that's likely just the beginning of your nightmare project fun!

Ever since I spotted a Taurus SHO in the junkyard, I've been thinking what a perfect Project Car Hell entry a SHO would be. It's fast, with a wild Yamaha V6, yet there's Super Sleeper Potential to be had by simply dressing one up as a refrigerator-white government-issue Taurus. The Hell part comes in when you figure the Taurus was never really designed for the long haul, with cascading component failures, switches that break off under your fingers, the works... and all of the SHOs are getting a bit long in the tooth by now. But so what if they leave behind a trail of broken parts and the cheap plastic trim has faded to a mottled beige? They're cheap, over 200 horsepower, and provide plenty of crazed torque-steering, front-tire-roasting fun! That's why it's mighty hard to resist the appeal of this 1995 Taurus SHO (go here if the ad disappears), with an asking price of just $750. The ad's description is a bit confusing ("BELIEVE IT NEEDS A FUEL FILTER OR PUMP NOT SURE TURNS BUT DOESNT STAY"), but it would appear that the car does not run. Like so many PCH cars, there's a problem with the "TITTLE" (no mention of the JOT), but the friendly folks down at your local DMV are eager to find a way to help you get your new car registered.


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@brandegee: It doesn't feel that way to me. The defining factor for me is interior volume, though I confess the SHO was never a two-door, and there was never a factory 4-dr X-11 (though you could option a 4-dr into damned close territory).

One thing that was funny about the Citation, both as 2- and 4-dr, it had mountains of room inside that just didn't seem appropriate in a car billed as a "compact." The cubic footage might actually say compact, but the car lived larger than that.