The Ford Taurus, which arguably had an impact on nearly every modern vehicle design, is drawing its last breath, with production set to wind down Friday (Oct. 27) at Ford Motor Co.’s Atlanta Assembly Plant in Hapeville, GA.

“The plan is to end production of Taurus on Friday. There are still variables that can change that, but that’s the plan,” a Ford spokeswoman tells Ward’s, adding that through September the auto maker sold 7.5 million Tauruses in North America, with 6.95 million in the U.S., alone.

Bowing in 1985, the Taurus is credited with helping pull Ford out of one of its darkest periods.

At first, critics knocked the car for its bulbous styling, which stood out alongside boxier vehicles typical of that era. But the Taurus turned into an unqualified success, and many of its styling cues still can be found in today’s vehicles.

By 1992, the Taurus held the distinction of being the top-selling passenger car in the U.S., with 492,751 units delivered that year, according to Ford. The Taurus remained the top seller until 1997, when it relinquished the title to the Toyota Camry.

This year, U.S. sales total 183,248 units through September, according to Ward’s data. However, the majority of sales were to rental fleets, an unprofitable market from which Ford and other domestic makers are trying to distance themselves.

The Taurus now ranks eighth on the list of best-selling cars in the U.S.

Some 1,950 workers (140 salaried and 1,800 hourly) will be affected by the closing of the Atlanta plant, a casualty of the auto maker’s ongoing Way Forward North American restructuring plan. Many employees have accepted buyouts and will leave the company, and some will transfer to other facilities, Ford says.

Since it opened in 1947, the 2.8 million-sq.-ft. (260,129-sq.-m) Atlanta Assembly Plant has churned out such iconic vehicles as the Ford Fairlane, Falcon, Fairmont, Torino and Ranchero pickup and Mercury Zephyr and Cougar.

In June, Atlanta was named the most productive assembly plant in the 2006 Harbour Report, at 15.37 hours per vehicle.

The Taurus also was built at Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant until spring 2004.

Best Selling Cars in U.S.
Cal.
Yr.
Model/Sales
1st 2nd 3rd
1988 Escort 387,815 Taurus 374,627 Accord 362,660
1989 Accord 362,711 Taurus 348,061 Escort 333,535
1990 Accord 418,400 Taurus 313,274 Cavalier 295,123
1991 Accord 399,296 Taurus 299,659 Camry 263,816
1992 Taurus 409,751 Accord 393,478 Camry 286,601
1993 Taurus 360,448 Accord 330,030 Camry 299,735
1994 Taurus 397,037 Accord 367,615 Camry 321,981
1995 Taurus 366,266 Accord 341,384 Camry 328,600
1996 Taurus 401,049 Accord 382,298 Camry 359,433
1997 Camry 397,156 Accord 384,609 Taurus 357,162
1998 Camry 429,575 Accord 401,071 Taurus 371,074
1999 Camry 448,162 Accord 404,192 Taurus 368,327
2000 Camry 422,961 Accord 404,515 Taurus 382,035
2001 Accord 414,718 Camry 390,449 Taurus 353,560
2002 Camry 434,145 Accord 398,980 Taurus 332,690
2003 Camry 413,296 Accord 397,750 Corolla 325,477
2004 Camry 426,990 Accord 386,770 Corolla 333,161
2005 Camry 431,703 Accord 369,293 Corolla 341,290
2006 Camry 319,475 Corolla 306,353 Accord 278,422
Note: Corolla includes Matrix
Ford Taurus
and Mercury Sable
U.S. Sales History
Cal.
Yr.
Ford
Taurus
Mercury
Sable
1988 374,627 119,218
1989 348,061 110,962
1990 313,274 96,803
1991 299,659 100,331
1992 409,751 116,623
1993 360,448 120,977
1994 397,037 113,282
1995 366,266 102,565
1996 401,049 114,164
1997 357,162 112,400
1998 371,074 100,367
1999 368,327 101,120
2000 382,035 103,030
2001 353,560 102,646
2002 332,690 98,998
2003 300,496 61,342
2004 248,148 42,737
2005 196,919 24,149
2006 147,996
Total 6,951,056 1,947,255

bpope@wardsauto.com