September 23, 2010

Another interesting track experience came from Northeast SHO owner Kirk Doucette, who elected to leave his track-prepped 1995 SHO at his Spencer, Massachusetts shop in favor of flogging his tastefully de-chromed 2010 SHO. Equipped with a set of race-spec brake pads, a custom exhaust and a performance tune engineered by Doucette himself, he set about defying the laws of physics by throwing the two-ton EcoSHO around the tight course with surprising speed and grip. Aside from the better pads and an estimated horsepower bump to around 440 ponies, Doucette's SHO was factory stock, including the suspension, brake size and Goodyear street rubber. He said his 2010 in stock trim outperforms his track-ready 95 in every fashion, and after riding shotgun with Doucette for a few laps, the big SHO proved to be quite capable of nausea-inducing g-loads, gut-wrenching acceleration and repeated panic stops, though the pedal was softening up after a few laps. It may be a large beast, but the 2010 SHO definitely knows how to wrinkle pavement with authority.

Thursday was the last official convention day, and local tours at such places as the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and Ford's sprawling Rouge factory gave the SHO crowd a chance to recover from two days of early-morning activity. It also gave everyone a chance to prepare for the traditional banquet and closing ceremonies, which included a lengthy car show awards presentation, a silent auction of donated items for charity, a specially-painted helmet signed by a who's who of Ford executives that also went on the auction block for charity, and several guest speakers from Ford. Among them, Taurus SHO Chief Engineer Mike Celentino assured everyone that Ford was listening to enthusiasts--going so far as to say that more performance and better brakes would be part of future SHOs. Taurus Exterior Design Manager Earl Lucas echoed those sentiments, noting that the SHO would receive more unique items, less chrome, and a lower, wider stance. He also became the fourth Ford representative through the week-long convention to suggest the SHO would be receiving more power. Unless someone in upper management sent out the wrong memo, we suspect the Ford folks have some horsepower secrets they want to not share with the world, if you get the drift.

On the enthusiast side of the SHO fence, Ford Performance Group Communications Manager and long time Mustang aficionado John Clor spoke about official Taurus SHO certificates of authenticity, which debuted earlier this year for the first three Taurus SHO generations and recently became available for the 2010 SHO. Styled after the coveted certificates of authenticity that SVT owners have valued for years, the Ford Performance Group's effort to catalog, preserve and deliver vehicle-specific production information was welcome news for SHO owners, who've long desired to have the level of personalization, recognition and distinction that comes with official documents such as these.

Though Friday was not an official convention day, many folks trekked to Cleveland for a tour of Ford's EcoBoost engine plant, either as a stop on their way home, or as a continuation of what turned out to be an extraordinarily successful convention. Despite the struggling economy and fuel prices near $3.00 per gallon, 100 cars and over 160 people made the trip to Dearborn. Enthusiasts traveled from both coasts and the deep South, representing 25 states and two Canadian providences. Ford made sure none of them left Dearborn empty handed; everyone at the banquet received Taurus SHO T-shirts, Taurus drinking glasses, and 1:24 scale 2010 SHO die-cast replicas, the latter of which were hand delivered to each person by Steve Ling and Taurus Marketing Manager Pei-Wen Hsu. On the charity front, the efforts of convention attendees and Ford Motor Company raised $1,800 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and approximately $4,000 for the American Cancer Society.

After years of little contact and even less interest in the Taurus SHO enthusiast community, attendees at the 2010 national SHO convention were not only greeted with enthusiasm, but treated with a respect that was both refreshing and genuine.

"How many people get the chance to be invited into Ford's headquarters, tour its proving grounds, and are treated to specially made gifts, and talk to as many Ford engineers that we could take?" said convention organizer Ken Mallinson. "Our friends at Ford, Pei-Wen Hsu and Steve Ling both helped show our members why Ford is still alive--and will continue to be for many years to come."

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