Ford Motor Co. will rename its slow-selling Five Hundred model the Taurus, a name Ford previously used for a car that became the nation's top-seller, two company officials said Tuesday.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on the condition they not be identified by name because the official announcement had not yet been made.
The Taurus, considered by some the car that saved Ford, revolutionized the way autos look and feel when it was introduced in 1985.
The Dearborn-based automaker ceased production of the Taurus in October after 21 years and sales of nearly 7 million, perplexing many industry analysts and former Ford executives who said the brand name had great value.
Ford spokesman Jim Cain would not confirm that the Taurus name will be brought back, but said new Chief Executive Alan Mulally has been interested in the Taurus ever since arriving from aviation giant Boeing Co. last year.
Cain said the company would make news at the Chicago Auto Show later this week, but he would not say what it was.
"It will be announced in Chicago, whatever it is. I'm not confirming or denying," he said.
The Five Hundred, built on Volvo architecture, sold moderately well in 2005, its first full year on the market, but sales nose-dived last year to about 84,000 from almost 108,000, reports AP.
It will get a new, more powerful engine and some cosmetic updates for the 2008 model year, when the name change likely is to take place. The new version will be in showrooms this summer, company officials have said.
The Taurus, called a "jellybean" or "flying potato" when it first was introduced because of its futuristic curved design, was an immediate hit, with buyers snapping up more than 263,000 in 1986, its first full year on the market.
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