Rear-Wheel-Drive, 1JZ-Swapped 2001 Ford Taurus Is the Ultimate Sleeper Final Boss
The jellybean styling of the '01 Taurus elicits a yawn, but this one more than makes up for it by shredding tires.
Louis Strianese has done the impossible: he's made me fall in love with a 2001 Ford Taurus. How? By giving the humble sedan the heart of a Toyota Supra MK III, which is clearly my sort of madness.
According to Engine Swap Depot, the run-of-the-mill Ford V6 has been chucked out for a twin-turbo 1JZ-GTE VVTi inline-six mated to a five-speed W58 manual transmission and a Lexus LS400 differential that powers the rear wheels. The W58 was a meatier transmission developed by Aisin for several Toyota cars that needed to handle just a bit more power, including three generations of the Supra through the 1980s and 1990s. This specific transmission came from a third-generation Supra. Its shifter was made for a Lexus IS300, and instead of returning the part that wasn't built for this drivetrain, Strianese "made it work," by welding parts himself.
"I didn't really choose to build a Ford Taurus—it just kind of fell in my lap," Strianese explained on YouTube. "My mom gave me this car, and that's kind of how it started."
The Taurus was meant to be the reliable replacement for a DSM (Diamond Star Motors) daily driver that was always breaking, but well, you see what he did to it. When the Ford engine's head gasket went, it was on.
That being said, this build took a bit more than just tossing out Ford bits and inserting Toyota and Lexus parts. Strianese made an entire custom tubular subframe for the suspension and used the rear subframe from a Lexus LS400 to work with the other Lexus parts that drive the rear wheels.
The Taurus' power steering rack was swapped for the manual steering rack from a Fox-body Ford Mustang. The front BC coilovers were take-offs from a friend's Mazdaspeed3, and the rear coilovers (meant for a Toyota Cressida) were from CXRacing. There's even a Porsche oil-return O-ring used to make a gifted APS blow-off valve work.
There are now a couple of telltale signs on the outside, such as the lowered ride height, big XXR wheels, the exhaust sticking out of the side of the front, and a few extra holes to direct air to the engine bay that show off some of the performance parts underneath.
The interior is fairly stripped-out, giving you a nice view of the new transmission tunnel running down the middle. There's also a big hydraulic handbrake sticking up for additional fun. Sitting in traffic, though, we probably wouldn't even notice this car, and that's precisely why we love it.