CHICAGO - On his first day at work as chief executive of Ford Motor Co., Alan Mulally had a question that no one could answer: Why get rid of the Taurus?
Long before he was hired last September, the struggling company had decided to stop making what once was the most popular car in the U.S., a decision that had him perplexed.
"How can it go away?" he remembered asking. "It's the best-selling car in America."
On Wednesday, at Mr. Mulally's insistence, the company announced that it was reviving the Taurus name.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker made the official announcement at the Chicago Auto Show that it would place the storied moniker on the 2008 version of the Five Hundred.
In addition, an upgraded version of the Freestyle crossover vehicle will be re-badged as the Taurus X, and the Mercury Montego, the Five Hundred's cousin, will be renamed the Sable in the coming model year. The Sable was the Taurus' nearly identical cousin, with 2 million sold under the Mercury name.
Mr. Mulally, in an interview with The Associated Press, said the Taurus' demise was one of the biggest disappointments he discovered as he started work. He still hasn't found out why the company gave up on the name of a car purchased by 7 million buyers during its 21-year history. All he knows is the decision was wrong and needed to be fixed.
The Five Hundred, which Mr. Mulally used for a time as his personal car, should have been named the Taurus all along rather than starting with a new name, he said.
The Five Hundred, built on a Volvo frame and considered a capable but dull car by industry analysts, never took hold in the marketplace.