The late 1980s were not a particularly good time to be a hoon. Options for really fun cars were few and far between, and it had been years since anyone tried the old Carroll Shelby trick of stuffing a big motor into a small car. Enter Chuck Beck, who would later go on to build world-class replicas of the Porsche 550 Spyder. Partnering with Rick Titus to create Special Editions, Beck got the idea to stuff a then-new Taurus SHO V6 into a Ford Festiva body. Keeping it front wheel drive would create a nose-heavy, understeering pig, so Beck and Titus borrowed a page from the Renault R5 Turbo school of design. Their creation would lose its back seat to make room for the motor, and an American mid-engined, rear drive hoonmobile was born.
The SHO V6 was a bulletproof choice of motor, but making it fit in a car as small as the Festiva required some major re-engineering. The stock Festiva chassis was reinforced and braced, the stock suspension was scrapped for custom built components and the rear track was stretched to accommodate the engine, transmission and (much needed) wider rear tires. The fuel tank was moved to the front of the car, near the radiator, and flared rear fenders were built to enclose the rear wheels. The Shogun was ready for an eager public, and soon became the darling of the automotive press.
In stock trim, the Shogun made around 220 horsepower, which was good enough to get the 2,200 pound car from 0 to 60 in under five seconds, on its way to a 1/4 mile in the high 12s. On the skidpad, the car was capable of over 1.0 G, making it a an attractive option for track day use. Like all mid-engine, rear drive cars, the Shogun didn’t suffer fools well and could be prone to snap oversteer in the hands of an inexperienced driver. The big limiting factor was the price; a Special Editions Shogun cost as much as a new Corvette, but offered far fewer amenities wrapped in its economy car sheet metal. Seven were built (including number 3, purchased new by Jay Leno) and five are known to remain.
Today, a low mileage 1990 Corvette can be had for around $14,000. If you can find a Shogun for sale, the price is what the owner wants. The NADA guide lists the value of a 1990 Shogun at $34,000, and if you can find one for that price I strongly suggest you buy it. I sure wish I’d ponied up the cash twenty years ago.