A Bull in Training
January and September 1984
Savvy readers will be tipped off by the title. If you’re curious what incredibly popular car this became, continue reading.
Jellybean styling taking shape
The car seen in the spy photos was the first-generation Ford Taurus.
Originally anticipated as a front-wheel-drive replacement for Ford’s LTD Crown Victoria, the rear-wheel-drive full-sizer’s healthy sales allowed it a stay of execution and the two coexisted happily for many, many years. More directly, the Taurus replaced only the smaller Granada-based LTD model.
The images to the left and above were taken by the famous auto spy Jim Dune, and were presented in the September 1984 issue of Motor Trend magazine.
They were sourced from, where else but my favorite section of the publication, the Detroit Report.
As you can see from these and the larger pictures in the gallery, the general shape was solidified and only detail, such as lighting and trim, appear to need application. And those, arguably, are missing as part of the disguise process.
In this image to the right, engineers, or their camouflaging compatriots, attempted to give the mule the appearance of a soft top. They’ve also applied false front and rear side-marker lamps, and have masked off the rear side windows. Further, with the application of some black paint, they’ve tried to give the mule the look of having blacked-out bumpers which was far more common on cars of the time.
The black and white picture below left and the one just above to the right were taken by Ron Lieberson and were presented in the January 1984 issue of Road & Track magazine.
Those efforts of visual trickery may seem inadequate today to hide a car like the Taurus, but that’s probably because we’ve been exposed to millions of Taurus models for decades now. At the time, while definitely different-looking, the average onlooker likely would not have been able to discern what car this was.
In the image to the left, at the rear of the mule, they’ve installed what appear to be Pinto tail lamps, again as part of the disguise.
As if it needs to be provided so that people know which car this post is about, to the right is a production 1986 Ford Taurus sedan. Below is the production wagon model.
Incidentally, the Taurus went on to be a top seller, or the top seller, until 1997 when the crown was stolen by Toyota’s Camry.