(The idea for this series based on the numerous emails sent between Derek and Doug, containing long forgotten cars that have fallen into a derelict state. While our intrepid authors would love to own these cars should they ever win the Powerball, they find it difficult to actually part with the funds required to take them home, especially given the significant reconditioning required. In addition, you’ll see the difference between a snow belt car and a clean car from the south, as both authors compare examples from their respective locales.)
I remember the SVT Contour for two reasons. Car and Driver once named it as a contender for “Best Handling Car Under $30,000″, and BF Goodrich developed a special tire for it, the KD/W, and featured it prominently in full-page ad spreads.
Being partial to sedans, I have always had a soft spot for the SVT Contour. While it’s often dubbed the “poor man’s 4-door M3″, that’s little more than damming it with faint praise. The front-drive layout and the Blue Oval badge doomed this car to forever being considered a second-tier sports car, but I have no innate bias against front-drive cars or Ford products. The one thing stopping me from buying one is that most local examples are crap.
The Ford badge is probably a big reason why these cars saw their values plummet like Rosie O’Donnell in a skydiving accident. Many of them ended up rotting in fields, suffering at the hands of incompetent “Performance 2NR types” or winding up as ChumpCar entrants. Even the relatively clean ones have weird red flags like mismatched wheels. If the road salt and wet climate wasn’t bad enough, then Toronto’s “auto enthusiasts” can always find a way to take degrade a once great car.
Then again, there is this one. Not my first choice of color, and a little more than I’d want to pay. But at least the ad is coherent.
It’s easy to find a Contour SVT in the Atlanta area, provided you’re OK with driving to the kind of faraway suburb where people have addresses like “11467 State Highway 82” and the most common house pet is a pig.
That’s because the Contour SVT was highly popular down south among drivers who realized it would be hard to fit a car seat in a V6 Mustang. Unfortunately, this means that every Atlanta-area Contour SVT has been through several owners, all of whom, at one point, posted a YouTube video of themselves driving the car that started with: “Watch this!”
But with a friendly climate and the car’s wide availability of parts, a lot of the local Contour SVTs are in reasonably nice shape. This 1998 model, for example, looks absolutely pristine considering its list price of just $4,000. And while the seller hasn’t posted the car’s mileage, he has provided his own personal guarantee of “drive anywhere,” which is really just as good.
This 2000 model, offered for just $2,999, also looks pristine, provided you’re OK with the facelift headlights. This seller also hasn’t listed the mileage, but he did note the car got a new clutch and new brakes at 108,000. He also says it “sounds great,” which is Georgia speak for “straight pipes” or possibly “hole in the exhaust that requires welding.”
There are a few more SVT Contours on Atlanta Craigslist, all of which boast similar condition and pricing. (As a bonus, some listings even include the mileage.) Down here, we sure know how to keep our SVT Contours. And our pet pigs.