It's twisted and a bit pathetic, but I will be shedding a tear next week in honor of the Ford Taurus officially and finally going out of production. It had a 21-year run that in retrospect is the longest fall from grace in history. During that time Ford sold 7 million Tauruses and another 2 million Mercury Sables. Since January 1st of this year, however, Ford had halted sales of the Taurus to the public, accepting orders only from fleet and rental companies. Despite that, the Taurus remained Ford's best selling passenger car almost every month this year, selling more units than the Focus and even the red hot Mustang. The Taurus saved Ford when it was introduced in 1985 and immediately sold 263,000 units during that first year. That number would rise to 410,000 units in 1992 when the Taurus overtook the Honda Accord to become the best selling passenger car in the U.S., a title it held for five straight years.

We've been talking a lot around here lately about what mistakes Ford has made in the past that are responsible for its current dire straits. Perhaps the single biggest one is abandoning the Taurus. Ford knew the controversial redesign of the third generation Taurus wasn't going to recapture the passenger car sales crown from the Toyota Camry, and SUV sales at the time were beginning to gain momentum. Rather than reinvest in the car, Ford spent the next ten years pissing away the good name of the Taurus by abandoning development on the car or a competitive replacement, as well as not bothering to market the car responsible for saving the company in the mid-Eighties.

Workers at Ford's plant in Hapeville, GA are particularly upset over the Taurus being discontinued, not just because the plant will be closed and they'll be unemployed, but also because the team had become a world class workforce, even raising quality levels at the plant after Ford announced it would be closed. Mark Fields, Ford's current President of the Americas, admits even he doesn't understand how the company strayed so far from the Taurus. He also claims he's attempting to lead Ford's current turnaround with appealing new products, just like the Taurus led the turnaround back in 1985. We're sorry Mr. Fields, but the impact of the original Taurus is unlikely to be matched by anything in the Blue Oval pipeline right now.

[Source: Yahoo News]