by Jeff Bauer
Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords June 2001 pp 46
Ford stopped building its Taurus SHO a few years back, but don’t tell that to the folks who make up the SHO online community. For these connoisseurs of speed, comfort and performance in a 4-door Blue Oval product, the party’s just getting started. In fact, thanks to a thriving Internet presence, it’s quite possible that the SHO is more popular now than it was when the vehicle was still in production.
The SHO was introduced in 1989 with the 220-hp. 24-valve DOHC Yamaha V6 that would make it famous, and it took only a few years for news of this surprisingly capable performance sedan to spread via the Internet. The original SHO mailing list, SHOtimes, was started by David Bonds in 1992. "I bought a 1989 SHO and didn’t find much information on it online—there wasn’t too much of a "web" at that point, and no site I could find dedicated to SHOs," Bonds said. "After finding a few other SHO owners on Usenet. We decided to start a mailing list to keep each other updated on issues we found with our SHOs, and to share thoughts and experiences."
From those humble beginnings, the SHOtimes mailing list grew from a grassroots effort into a full-fledged community, with 740 current list subscribers generating almost 100 messages a day, and an associated web site (www.shotimes.com) to publicize the list’s Frequently Asked Questions and other pertinent info. "Craig Blome started the FAQ after seeing lots of questions repeated on the list." Bonds said. "Mike Schwartz started the web-based version in 1994 ... he handed it over to me toward the end of 1997, and I’ve run it since then."
What started as simply a place to provide information about the mailing list has since grown into a valuable resource of SHO history, specifications, modifications and performance. Obviously, SHOtimes.com has pages explaining what the list is, how to subscribe. and how to access it archives. The FAQ is not a single document, but is divided into numerous categories and subsections: Specifications. History, and Other Stuff; Care and Feeding of the Taurus SHO; Modifying the Taurus SHO: Vendors and Organizations; Literature; and Gatherings. There’s also info on Technical Service Bulletins, a Directory, Photos, Links and more. In short, it’s become the place to go for Gen I and II owners. But what about third-generation SHOs?
The 1996-99 SHOs came equipped with a 235-hp, 32-valve Yamaha V8 (and automatic transmissions only). Though these Gen III cars carried the SHO moniker, they were very different from the earlier SHOs—different enough to warrant their own mailing list and web site (www.v8sho.com). "V8SHO.com started because there wasn’t much information on the Gen III cars on SHOtimes.com, mainly because I don’t own a Gen III and therefore don’t really feel qualified to edit and choose Information to post about Gen III cars," Bonds said. "After talking with a couple of V8 SHO owners, we decided it was best for everyone if there be a separate site for the Gen III cars?’
All V8 SHO fans have Bill Moore (aka "Big Dog") to thank for stepping up to the plate. Moore put together the original 96+ FAQ site, and ran it from June 1997 to July 1999. Currently, the V8SHO.com webmaster is Michael Ivy, with co-webmasters Timothy Wright and Michael Holhut overseeing the editorial content and design, respectively. "We are a direct descendant of SHOtimes.com, meaning that their site set the standard for us to follow," Ivy said. "We have a great working relationship, but because of our production differences—they’ve got 24 valves and we’ve got 32: they had the option of rowing their own gears and we didn’t—we stay in our territory?"
V8SHO.com does that by providing its own V8-specific mailing list. It started as an informal "reply to all" list in late 1998. "Only a handful of us [on SHOtimes] had V8s in 1998," Wright said. I put together some documents to share with other V8 owners as attachments. It grew from there:’ This soon grew unmanageable, and Ivy launched the listserver version in August 1999. Currently, it has 250 subscribers and generates anywhere from 15 to 150 messages a day.
The V8SHO.com site is modeled after SHOtimes.com only with info specifically about 1996-99 SHOs. There are pages with Specifications. Care and Feeding, Modifications, Vendors and Organizations, and Literature. There’s information about the 2001 National SHO convention in Oklahoma, Recalls and TSBs, Members Portfolios, and a Sights and Sounds multi-media page. Like SHOtimes.com, V8SHO.com has grown into a close-knit community.
The organization and web site that ties together all SHO owners is SHO Club (www.shoclub.com). SHO Club is a national SHO club that has taken the place of the original SHO Registry, the original national club started in ‘91. The site is run by SHO Club President Don Mallinson, with help from his son, Ken, wife Janet and several writers. Mallinson started the SHO Club site in March 2000. after having been involved with the SHO hobby and the registry for years. Membership is $30 and includes a subscription to the SHO magazine.
As a commercial site, I am working to make SHOclub.com the place to go for current events and activities surrounding the SHO, Mallinson said. SHOclub.com features articles and info from the club magazine, plus pages dedicated to SHO Events, the National Convention.
Local/Regional SHO Groups, Members Rides and more. For the future, Mallinson plans to add a Members Only area with exclusive content and expanded versions of the articles in the printed magazine. My philosophy is to keep the web site simple and easy, and make the content do the talking," he said.
The kinship that these three sites (and dozens of smaller, personal SHO sites) foster will ensure that the legacy of the SHO is around for a long time to come. But the bond that these sites’ member share goes far beyond the vehicles they drive. As Wright explained, "In the end, it’s just car guys being nice to other car guys."
I did not want to post this until it was off the news stands. Many thanks to Jeff Bauer and all the folks at Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords for their kind words. I hope perhaps we may see even more SHO coverage in their excellent monthly. - Buford