There are few holiday movies that are more iconic than Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation. And there are few cars tied to holiday movies more iconic that the Griswold’s 1989 Ford Taurus Wagon. Not to be confused with the 1979 Country Squire Wagon driven in National Lampoon’s Vacation, the ’89 Taurus is critical to getting the “perfect Christmas tree” back to the Griswold residence.
The first-generation Ford Taurus, with production beginning in 1986, was a replacement for the Ford LTD. The Taurus is credited with saving Ford from bankruptcy and starting the trend towards aerodynamic design in the American automotive industry. That being said, it doesn’t look all that great, but beauty comes second when dealing with the advent of bankruptcy.
The first-gen Taurus only came in front-wheel drive since performance wasn’t a primary consideration. The base model offered a 2.5L inline-four which put out 90 horsepower. You could option the 3.0L Vulcan V6 which would give you 50 more horses, or the 3.8L Essex V6 which offered the same amount of power but more torque. Ford also introduced an SHO version of the Taurus in ’89, which used the SHO 3.0L V6 and put out 223hp. I don’t know how much power is needed to haul a Christmas tree, but I do know that if Clark had gotten the SHO he would have had no trouble making that 1963 Dodge truck eat his rubber.
Fun fact, the movie Christmas Vacation used a 1988 and a 1989 Taurus wagon to film the movie, and the wood paneling was a custom addition. No Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable came from the factory with wood paneling, although some of the prototypes may have been seen with it. Either way, it is an iconic look that is instantly recognizable.