Cars and Concepts

Ford's final Taurus -- for a while -- rolls off the line

The silver 2007 Ford Taurus resides at the museum at Chick-fil-A headquarters. Photo credit: Chick-fil-A, Inc.

The last Ford Taurus, at the time, is built on Oct. 27, 2006, at the automaker’s Atlanta assembly plant.

Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain in Atlanta, bought the sedan.

Cathy credited the success of his first restaurant to workers at the Ford plant across the street, according to the Associated Press. In 1946 with his brother, Cathy opened his first restaurant, the Dwarf Grill. In 1961, he developed Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich and asked diners from the Ford plant to try it.

“I received it with mixed emotion,” Cathy told the AP about the car, which he added to a display of vehicles in a museum at Chick-fil-A’s corporate headquarters.

Under the hood and trunk had been signed by the employees at the plant. Cathy, who died in 2014, stood at the end of the assembly line to greet the employees as the car finished completion.

The Taurus debuted in 1985 and quickly fattened the profits of a sagging company.

In its first full year, U.S. sales tallied 263,450 units. Sales peaked at 409,751 in 1992, and it was the top-selling car in the United States in 1992 through 1996.

But by 2005, Ford said 80 percent of Taurus sales were to fleet buyers making it a staple at airport rental lots.

The Atlanta plant closed in 2006, but Ford later gave the Taurus new life.

Alan Mulally, who studied Ford's development of the Taurus while working for Boeing, had a clear affinity for the sedan.

Upon being hired as CEO in 2006, he criticized the logic of Ford casting aside one of its most recognizable names and ordered the Five Hundred -- a full-size car, whereas the former Taurus was a midsize -- be hurriedly overhauled and renamed to become Ford's flagship sedan.

When Mulally retired in 2014, he took a Taurus home with him to Seattle.

But U.S. production of the large sedan is ending -- again -- and this time, Mulally isn't walking through the door to save it.

Ford will stop building the venerable nameplate at its Chicago assembly plant in March as it makes room for more crossover output.

You can reach Jack Walsworth at jwalsworth@crain.com -- Follow Jack on Twitter: @jackwalsworth
Tags: Ford

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