So the story goes that back in the mid 1980s, Ford inked a deal with Yamaha for a V6 engine to be used in a Fiero competitor. The car went nowhere, but Ford found a place for the engine: Under the hood of the legendary 1989 Taurus SHO. Before the real car could happen, it had to be prototyped. The task of figuring out how to put a V6 carrying overhead-cam heads and the storied "bundle of snakes" intake manifold into an engine bay designed for the compact Vulcan V6 fell to two lucky guys, Mike Klein and Will Johnston. Holed up at Carron Industries, a working version of Yamaha's engine was installed in the engine bay. Mountings and wiring had to be fabricated, and an Escort 5-speed manual was bolted up. It was all tucked under a hood modified with a Mustang hood scoop, and after some shakedown cruising, the car was shipped back to Yamaha.
Pictures were forbidden, but when you're working on something that you just know is going to be groundbreaking, it's tough to fight that temptation. There's certainly no need for secrets any longer, and seeing the gestation of one of our all-time favorites is tantalizing. The engine was clearly not in its final form, with a Vulcan shortblock and an intake manifold that's lacking the crossover tube of the production version. There's also core plugs in the intake runners, indicating that the casting process was changed to get the smooth-looking tubes in the final version. A peek into the past at possibly the very first SHO ever, the car that proved the concept, is very cool. Thanks for the tip, Matt, and thanks to forum member Pyro for sharing his family album!