Rapid advancement
The clays in the two photos below only had a caption below them but no other mention in the article. The caption reads, “Looking like Rick Deckard’s 21st century land car, the Sigma research project dovetailed into the Taurus production program.” (Rick Deckard is the main character in the futuristic 1982 movie Blade Runner.)

1986 Ford Taurus development - 1980-10-01 Sigma

If you look closely, you’ll notice the two cars shown above are different, or more precisely are likely the same car but different on its two sides. I’ve read that one of the reasons designers prepare 50/50 clays is for reducing their costs by using only half of the materials at early concept stages.

1986 Ford Taurus development - 1981-01-12 DN5 Taurus front three-qtrThere was a series of early clays categorized as DN5 (I’m not sure what the acronym stands for). From what I understand, the DN5 concepts included those that were hatchbacks. The DN5 shown to the right is dated January 12, 1981.

The front fenders and bumper, and area around the headlights are shaped similarly to the 1983 Thunderbird’s. Not a bad starting point. However, that beak. Wow.

1986 Ford Taurus development - 1981-01-12 DN5 Taurus rear three-qtrIn the designers’ defense, Motor Trend reported that the main goal of the earliest models was to achieve the lowest possible drag coefficient.

This early DN5 clay, above and left, is labeled “Taurus” (on the plate), unlike a later model which sports a much older name.

The rear of the DN5 Taurus has a strong visual relation to the 1983 to 1986 Mercury Capri bubbleback model. (Seeing a bubbleback now is sort of nostalgic, but I never cared for the look from a design standpoint.)

1986 Ford Taurus development - 1981-03-11 DN5 Granada rear three-qtrThese next two pictures are of a different car from only a couple of months later (March 11, 1981). It is a good example of the notchback-looking hatchback design that was mentioned earlier. However, the article states that this particular design was developed to incorporate a trunk or hatchback.

More noticeable in the larger gallery-sized version of this picture above is the front fender that is starting to take on the look of the production Taurus. The rear, not so much, but the front is definitely starting to look familiar.

1986 Ford Taurus development - 1981-03-11 DN5 Granada profileHere, to the left, you can better see what I am referring to.

Something else I noticed is the name on the car’s rear plate and badging. It reads “Granada”. (A model that ended production in 1982.)

While this looks advanced for the time, it doesn’t look sophisticated like the production car. I’m glad they were open to change. (It kind of reminds me of the Renault Alliance.)

Astonishingly, by November 23, 1981, the look was close to pinned down. Shown below are full-sized fiberglass models of the Mercury Marquis II, left, and the Ford LTD I, right. The “I” and “II” had to do with the models’ dual personalities. One half of the Marquis and LTD models was “I” and the other, slightly different-designed side of each was called “II”.

1986 Ford Taurus development - 1981-11-23 Marquis II and LTD I

Even though the Mercury already wore its headlight bar that spanned the front of the car, the Taurus… er, sorry, LTD I had four square headlamps. Also peculiar is that the Ford has the crop-top rear wheel-well opening (which would end up on the production Sable) and the Mercury has the open rear wheel-well (which would end up on the production Taurus).

Continued on page 3, below.

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