I think they could have addressed much more than the cam issue. Like this:
The Vulcan makes 4 less HP per litre and 2 less lb.ft as well. If the Vulcan had comparable power in terms of displacement to the Essex, it would have made around 160 HP and 182 lb.ft. GM's 60 Degree made that (more actually) at 3.1, so why couldn't Ford? The engine should have received a decent redesign like the Essex got. It didn't though and they kept it at 4-banger output levels. The Buick 3.8 made comparable power levels to an Essex, too.
We should have a way better engine than we do. They should have made the heads a little thicker while they were at it. This engine was neglected. The Vulcan didn't even compete with domestic offerings:
GM 60 Degree 3.1:
Ford Vulcan 3.0
It gets even worse for the 4th gen. I'm still incredibly amazed as to why they even tried putting it in the windstar, the MPG rating was worse than an engine that displaced another .8 litres and made a ton more power too.
I have some ideas as to why they screwed up the engines in the 3rd gen so badly:
It made 235 hp and 230 lb·ft, just 35 more HP than the 3.8 would have made. It matches the lf.ft rating and does it at a lower RPM
range. I think this is a big reason for them not continuing the Essex engine in the Taurus, it would have made the SHO
The head gasket issues probably didn't help with the situation.
The 3rd gen SHO
should have never been. Not to offend anyone, but it really shouldn't. They should have just stuck one of their then current mustang engines, the 3.8 Essex or the 4.6 Modular. It would have been way more fun in my opinion to be able to go and buy add ons that are made for Mustang owners. If they did that then we could easily piggy back off the after market for the Mustang. A supercharged, 3.8 Taurus? Is it better than a SHO
V8? I would guess that it is.