Canadian Gen I&II SHO Buying Tips:
- Testdrive minimum 5 before purchasing! Get familiar with the sounds and
feel of various SHOs.
- Engine - Have previous owner start engine cold while you look at exhaust. Any sign of blue smoke is a sign of burnt oil from leaky valve seals. An abused SHO with poor maintenance will have leaky valve seals, just like any other car. Run away if you see excessive blue smoke!!!!
- 60k Service - This service is supposed to be done every 100k km, but most SHO's does not get this service at the right intervals (or at all). Which means that if the SHO has no record of 100k km service, be prepared to do that. The service consists of a new water pump, CPS, valve adjustment, shims, timing belt, and all upper gaskets. Typically you will be quoted $2,000 or more for this service with all of these parts done at a Ford dealer or your corner garage (be careful...not many know what a SHO is!). With the help of a good friend and a couple of days of work, you can easily save about $500 off that price doing it on my own.
If there is oil in your plug wells, count on doing this service in the
very near future.
- Suspension - Any 10+ year old SHO with original or low quality aftermarked
suspension components is going to require service. Look for rear sagging springs
(common), clunking upper strut mounts (common), worn out struts. Expect to
pay $600 to replace these components with factory Ford parts and labour. Excessive
"tipping" in turns means worn out sway bar end links and sway bar to body
bushings. Upgraded sway bars with bigger diameter are available on the aftermarked.
On the front, look for broken factory springs. Replacemenet Ford spring has
better quality, but SHO specific springs are no longer available. Same thing
with front struts. Including strut bearings, use $600 as a indication. Also
sway bar end links and sway bar bushings are wear parts.
- Brakes: 1989 - 1992 SHO's were known to have very weak brakes (too small)
from the factory, and although this was upgraded in 1993 and even more in
1994, warped rotors is a constant concern for drivers with aggressive driving
style. Look for ceased rear calipers (rusty surface of rotor), ceased brake
bias valve, and stretched e-brake cables are all common on the SHO. Keeping
rear caliper and brake components clean will extend life of them. A complete
replacment of brakes on a 1995 SHO including master cylinder ($300), Rear
Calipers ($100+ each), rear pads ($60 a set), e-brake cables ($65 each), removed
brake bias valve ($100) upgraded 1996+ front rotors ($85 each), 96 brakets
($125 - required for 96 upgrade), front pads ($60 a set), and 4 new brake
hoses ($25 each). All prices plus taxes and labour. An average break overhaul
with labour will set you back around $400-800.
- Transmission - Oh yea...a sore spot on many a ATX owner and a few MTX owners
also. First, the ATX. The Automatic Transaxle in the SHO is notoriously weak
and slow shifting when stock. A typical ATX in a SHO will last on average
around 210 000 kms before needing a rebuild. Yearly fluid changes will make
it last longer. Additional tranny cooler helps in the summer for aggressive
drivers. Expect to plop down $3,000 - 5000 for a rebuild. Note that a complete
new ATX does not exist in Fords inventory anymore. A Ted B. LPM Chip and a
Transgo kit when rebuilding will increase the life of your rebuild ATX and
also make for sweet, crisp, and fast 7,000rpm shifts. The manual transmission
is also fairly weak in the SHO. Any form of of abusive use can make differential
pin fly through the transmission case. Expect $1,000-1,500 is a good bet for
a decent replacement MTX and labour. Also clutches require lowering of the
subframe and usually run about $700 to replace.
- Misc Other - There are many other things to check through, but usually
one can get a good feel for how well a car has been looked after by talking
to the owner and taking it for a drive. Receipts for work done are a sure
way to tell what has in deed been done to the car. Listen for a loud fuel
pump ($200), check the plugs ($12 each) and wires ($300), does the Air Conditioner
blow cold? ($200-$3000!), dash lights going really dim while at a stop (altenator
- $400-$600), water in the fog lights or cracked fog light housing ($100+),
and any 10 year old car with the original radiator is going to need one soon
also ($300). We hope this helps all you prospective SHO owners out there.
I hope I haven't scared you away from purchasing and enjoying a SHO. Even
after spending over $10,000 on repairs and performance parts, the car will
still puts a smile your face. The key to buying one would be to find some
poor fellow like who has done all of the above and more but has to part with
his SHO. You may have to pay a little more for this type of SHO, but it is
guaranteed that it is better than spending $5000-8000 on an avrage to poor
maintained SHO Pay a little more up front and save a lot in the long run.