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Here Are the Three Coolest Cars I Saw Last Week

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author photo by Chris O'Neill April 2018

In my latest installment of Cool Cars I Saw Last Week, we have: an American sedan with a Japanese drivetrain, a surprisingly old Toyota Land Cruiser and a Volkswagen coupe not named Golf, Beetle or Scirocco.

TaurusSHO

I passed my exit on the highway just to get a good picture of this pristine 1992 Ford Taurus SHO. The SHO was a performance variant of the Taurus sold over three generations from 1989 until 1999, and then revived for a fourth generation in 2010. Early SHOs like this one were a collaborative effort, featuring a compact Yamaha 3.0-liter V6 engine bolted to a Mazda manual transmission. Output was a respectable 220 horsepower driving the front wheels, enough to get the Taurus SHO from zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds.

Early adopters of the SHO were forced to live with the 5-speed manual transmission until an automatic was introduced for 1993. For its third generation, the Taurus SHO shifted to a 235-hp V8 powerplant, still designed with input from Yamaha, and now Cosworth. In its comeback iteration introduced in 2010, the fourth-generation Taurus SHO utilized Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, sending a whopping 365 hp to all four wheels.

1960s FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser

I stopped to check out this 1960s FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser on my way to the gym. I believe this is a 1964-66 model, due to a few things. First, the length of the post between the door handle and gas cap. From what I've gathered, this piece extended almost to the window line on examples up to model year 1963, which made for awkward ergonomics any time the top was removed. Starting in '64, the post was shortened to the level of the belt line. Second, it appears that a new, larger windshield was introduced for 1967 that did away with the vent found on this one. Additionally, from what I've read, a new top was introduced for 1965 that brought with it larger side windows and the 40 Series' iconic rounded corner windows, allowing for added visibility. That would tell us that this is a 1964 model, but I'm still seeing numerous photos online claiming to be of '65-and-later 40s still using the corrugated top pictured on this one, so I can't be sure.

Either way, in addition to the corrugated side panels, the top holds another feature that is especially unique -- a bi-fold rear door, which is hinged at the top and middle, and opens upward, folding in, kind of like a garage door. Who knew Toyota was innovating rear-hatch designs long before the 4Runner's roll-down rear window.

 1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60

Here's a 1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60. The Corrado was sold in the U.S. from 1990 to 1994, while European (and Canadian) sales carried on through the 1996 model year. With a supercharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine making 158 hp, the G60 sat at the top of the Corrado lineup before being replaced by a more powerful VR6 model in 1992. The most unique feature of the Corrado was perhaps its retractable rear spoiler that deployed automatically (ever so slightly) at 45 mph for U.S. models. As the Corrado pictured here was traveling at around 5 mph, the spoiler is in the "down" position. Just over 18,000 Corrados were sold in the U.S. over five model years.

The Corrado had a unique relationship with the Scirocco, Volkswagen's earlier coupe. It was, in a way, meant to replace the Scirocco, but the Scirocco continued production for a few years after the Corrado was introduced. I think of the Corrado less as "replacing" the Scirocco, and more as Volkswagen just giving a new name to the new generation, which would allow it to still sell the (assumedly by then very profitable) previous-gen Scirocco alongside it for a few years, which it did all the way until 1992. Ultimately, it seems that VW determined "Scirocco" to be a better name and revived it years later in 2008, when it reintroduced a sports coupe to its lineup -- a vehicle that is now the very definition of forbidden fruit among many VW enthusiasts in the U.S.

Chris O'Neill grew up in the rust belt and now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He worked in the auto industry for a while, helping Germans design cars for Americans. On Instagram, he is the @MountainWestCarSpotter.

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Here Are the Three Coolest Cars I Saw Last Week - Autotrader