For those who don’t spend their days writing, thinking, or talking about Ford cars, a SHO just looks like a misspelled word, and has no real significance. But for Stephen Peele, SHO enthusiast and owner of Cincinnati SHO, these cars are a near-obsession. Peele is a car-guy at heart, a passion born when he drove to California in 1975 in his first car—a 1975 white Camaro with a blue pinstripe.
Peele, 50 years old, is from New York City and came to Cincinnati about 25 years ago. He has been married to his wife, Tara, for 22 years. In the early 90’s Mike Callahan began Cincinnati SHO, a business that finds and sells after-market parts for the Ford Taurus SHOs, and soon after Peele bought it from him. In the meantime he has owned at least seven SHOs, not to mention a 1985 Ford Escort, a 1998 Mercury Villager, a 2002 Ford Windstar, and his latest interest, a 2009 Ford Flex Limited (black). The older two of his four children (ages 20, 18, 14, and 12) have driven SHOs as well when they started driving.
But, without hesitation, Peele will tell you that the best year of the Ford Taurus SHO was 1994. He says, “They had worked out the transmission issues so it was strong, there were trim packages that I liked where the color matched the side mirrors, and I bought a number of them.”
His SHO obsession began when he purchased his first one in Eastgate. “It was black on black—it was really sweet,” he says. After that he begin researching the car, reading books and websites (specifically SHOforum.com and SHOclub.com) and finding others who could connect to his interest. Then he began customizing the cars, and finding suppliers to make after-market parts for his visions, including fancy exhaust pipes, floor mats, hoods, and gage panels for the interior.
But there’s a new man on campus, or at least in the driveway at Peele’s house in Mason—the Ford Flex is quickly becoming Peele’s next project.
“I would love to see the Flex customized more. They are picking up in terms of numbers of cars—they are everywhere,” Peele says. “When you first see it, you aren’t sure if you like it, but there’s nothing else out there like it.”
Peele and his family get stopped all the time with people checking out their black on black Ford Flex. Just a few days ago, they were at a Chinese takeout place near Kings Island, and three guys outside at a bar stopped them next to the restaurant.
“The guy was like, ‘What is that? That’s so cool looking.’” Peele remembers.
He is looking toward expanding Cincinnati SHO toward including Ford Flex work in the future. He envisions spoilers, different wheels, suspension work to lower the vehicles, and treatments to the front of the car.
With such strong passions, the real question is, with the SHO and Flex in the driveway, how does Peele choose which one to take out? It depends how fast he wants to go that day. When he has the need for speed, the SHO it is, and he doesn’t hesitate to take it to business meetings either. As a preacher for Living Word fellowship, and a business consultant for Preceptus, he says it’s a great vehicle for taking executives to lunch.
“The SHO is impressive, distinctive, and people know it when they see it, but it’s understated. It’s very quiet, a superb ride, and there’s little road sounds in the interior so you can be on the phone,” he says. Not to mention that it “looks expensive.”
On the other hand, he wouldn’t hesitate to pile his family into the Ford Flex, which “for a grocery getter, is a cool machine. It’s comfortable and safe,” he says, “And it feels like a limo.”
When it comes to safety, though, Peele has no hesitations in recommending the SHO. He knows from experience, as his wife was t-boned on Fields Ertel road in a pretty serious accident, and all five people in her car walked away unharmed. “It’s solid,” he says. And he is convinced the new ones would hold up even better.
With Peele’s history loving the Ford SHO, and his future visions with the Flex, Cincinnati’s “SHO guy” might be expanding his horizons.
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Read more articles on our Lebanon Ford blog.