Thursday, March 19, 2015

5k: SHOcase of the Dakotas: 1987 Mercury Sable wagon, SHO swap

One of the more unfortunate tendencies of human beings is to reduce a culture to stereotypes and rash generalizations. For example, the Dakotas are not merely Fargo jokes and wide open spaces, but an exercise in pragmatism. As in, inexpensive land, low taxes, low unemployment, low crime (except for that fellow with the woodchopper) and a low chance of getting heat stroke. Like a 220-horsepower family wagon, it does the job right without begging for attention, which is a polite way of saying it has all the sex appeal of a Cosby sweater. Find this 1987 Mercy Sable wagon with SHO swap for sale in Rapid City, SD for $4,500 via craigslist.

This Mercury is from the second year of Sable production, and predates the Taurus SHO by two years. It's reminiscent of the 1992 Chop'n'SHOp Taurus wagon featured in September, but more sneaky. All-original and unassuming on the outside, and apropros of its cultural climate, this white-on-tan longroof is a vessel of conservatism.

The Yamaha-tuned V6 and 5-speed manual transmission were swapped in 1991 and have put on just 58,000 extra-urban miles since then. You'll find Mustang brakes and a Tokico/Eibach strut/spring setup in the front, with SHO disc brakes and coilovers in the back. Thicker sway bars are the practical way to control body movement while maintaining road comfort. Practical is the name of the game, but no games are allowed until you finish your homework.

The side mirrors are color-keyed but the handles aren't, because you're likely to break the handle when the door freezes shut on sub-zero mornings and it's easier to find replacements when you have one color to choose from. Of the two sets of wheels shown, one is probably mounted with winter tires because it's cheaper to own two sets of wheels than two different cars. You're only allowed to shift gears for yourself because 5-speed Ford transmissions returned greater fuel economy than contemporary 4-speed autos. However, a column-shifter would allow for a front bench seat... better get to work on that immediately in an appropriately paced timely manner.

See a car with greater headlight area? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. While this is exactly "What i'm talking about!", it is disappointing that there are no interior pictures. I want to see how glorious the 90's were in a sable wagon and I'm not about to make the trip all the way to SD to find out.

  2. It's a bummer Ford didn't actually produce the SHO wagon. This headlight arrangement isn't bigger, just freakier.


    1. Methinks he's mistaking the Duratec V6 for the SHO V8.

    2. What makes you think that? That ad copy doesn't indicate anything other than the Yamaha, though they weren't exactly descriptive.

  3. There were a few Taurus/Sable wagon SHO conversions done, could probably turn up the history of this one with some poking around.

    As with the E39 BMW the rear suspension on the Taurus wagon was somewhat different from the sedan so most parts won't swap.

    1. I know about the Billy Wagon one-off, the audio company's toy and the homebrews, but I'm unaware of any that went into actual production.

    2. No, none of them were 'production' models, but the SHO wagon conversion was a fairly easy one, I'm guessing there were probably around 10 done as one-offs.

  4. Both remind me of...
    Well I kicked the tire and then got in the seat
    And set on a petrified apple core
    And found a bunch of field mice livin' in the glove compartment
    He says "her shaft is bent and the rear end leaks
    You can fix 'er quick with an oily rag
    Use a nail to start her, I lost the key
    Don't pay no mind to that whirin' sound
    She'll use a little oil, but outside of that she's a cherry

    I says what'll it take
    He says "whadaya got"
    I says twenty eight dollars and fifteen cents
    He says "you got a deal, sign here
    I'll go get the title an' a can full of gas
    I put the nail in the slot and fired her up
    And she coughed and belched up a bunch of smoke
    And I backed her right through the hog pen into the yard

    1. Would you like that with a side of Fries?

    2. Hey now! Rimshot!

    3. I could use the fries to keep Frank busy so he would quit biting my leg...

    4. Heh heh. Ouch.


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