Last Ford Taurus to roll off the line next week
Say goodbye to the sedan that was a best-seller in the 1990s and helped revitalize the No. 2 automaker.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In less than a week, the last Ford Taurus will roll off the line at a Ford assembly plant near Atlanta - the end of the road for a car that was once the best selling in the country and that for a time helped revitalize the struggling automaker.

The mid-sized sedan quickly became a sensation after it was introduced in 1985 as Americans embraced its design, safety features and fuel-efficiency.

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The Ford Taurus
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The Ford Fusion

In 1986 Motor Trend named the Taurus "Car of the Year." By 1987 the Taurus had become Ford's (Charts) best-selling vehicle.

Five years later, it was the best-selling car in the nation, a spot it held for five years while it was competing with Honda's (Charts) Accord and the Toyota (Charts) Camry.

"It was aerodynamic and almost dramatic in an era when American and Japanese cars were still boxy and conservative," Ford spokesman Jim Cain said. "It was fuel efficient but powerful with a V6 power engine. It was a very modern and forward looking, innovative car design."

Cain said the Taurus has been replaced with two separate vehicles: the Ford Fusion, which is a bit smaller than the Taurus and gets up to 32 miles a gallon, and the larger, more spacious Ford 500.

Cain said the two cars better target the marketplace. He also said that although many employees have regrets about the end of the Taurus, "you can't remain harnessed to the past, you have to go where the customers want to go."

"It's a very difficult time for our employees," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said, adding Ford won't permit the media into its Atlanta-area factory late next week when the last Taurus is produced. "The last thing they want is media around on the last day or so," she told CNN, referring to workers at the plant.

The Taurus helped boost Ford's fortunes in the late 1980s and 1990s when the automaker sold 7 million of them, plus another 2 million Mercury Sables, which was essentially the same car.

Since then the nation's No. 2 automaker has again fallen on hard times, like its larger rival General Motors (Charts).

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.