Ford Taurus enthusiasts gather for national convention

NASHUA – Forget how the Ford Taurus may look like a typical sedan from the outside.

What’s underneath the hood – or what Ford had put beneath the hood up until 1999 – makes the vehicle worthy of attracting aficionados from across the nation for a convention here this week.

“Basically, it’s the motor in the car,” said Kirk Doucette of Spencer, Mass., one of roughly 100 members of a Taurus fan club based at the Radisson this week for a national convention.

Taurus owners from as far as California, Washington and Oregon attended. In a sense, the convention included two celebrities: a 2010 souped-up Taurus that Ford resurrected and will roll out soon, and a Chicago-area resident who waged a two-year campaign to convince the automaker to resurrect the popular car.

As with car enthusiasts of all ilks, the Taurus people talk the talk, throwing out terminology and statistics.

For example, Doucette points out that Ford put Yamaha engines in the Taurus, including 220-hp V-6 and 235-hp V-8 engines.

Like many enthusiasts, and certainly many Taurus owners at the convention, Doucette also walks the walk: He modified his 1996 V-8 model with a five-speed stick shift so professionally done, it looks like it was installed at the factory.

All Taurus’ between 1996 and 1999 with V-8 engines were automatics.

Ford continued producing the Taurus until 2007, but the later models aren’t the ones that attract the following. It’s the souped-up “SHO” versions Ford rolled out from 1989-99 that inspire the passion of club members.

Kirby Haltom of Fort Worth, Texas, drives a 1990 Taurus with 215,000 “very hard miles” on it, he said.

“It goes through the racetrack a couple of times a year,” Haltom said.

In fact, many of the Taurus drivers race their cars, and the convention includes a race through the road course today at the New Hampshire Motor Speed way in Loudon.

Also in store for this week: A cruise from Portsmouth to Essex, Mass., and a Boston Duck Tour, since many members are visiting the Boston area for the first time.

One such out-of-towner is Jim Eurenius, of Springfield, Ohio, who brought his modified Taurus he calls “Shogun,” the name of a Japanese warrior and the code name for the Taurus that Ford used when it was designing the car.

Eurenius hands out a business card with the word “Retired” beneath his name – his career was in human services, he said. The card also describes the bearer as “Certified Car Nut.”

True to that name, Eurenius said he has spent four years modifying a 1999 Taurus he bought in North Carolina in 2005. His original ’99 Taurus was smashed in an accident in Atlanta, he said.

Attending the convention were a lead engineer and a suspension designer from Ford, and an early representative of the 2010 resurrected Taurus, making its first New England appearance.

Also present was Ryan Pasch of Lockport, Ill., who championed an effort to persuade Ford to bring the Taurus back on his Web site,

Pasch’s quest had received national media attention, and the urging of Taurus lovers like Pasch helped convince Ford to resurrect the model.

“People in Detroit listen to you,” said Ed Stebbins of Nashua, one of the founders of the New England Taurus club chapter.

“That’s what we were looking for. That’s what the redesign should have been,” Pasch said, admiring the 2010 Taurus on display.

“It’s beautiful. It really is a nice car.”