Crapwagon Outtake: 1998 Ford Contour SVT

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

The appeal of the hot family sedan should be obvious. A car offering both family hauling utility and apex-hunting ability means, in theory, that the sports sedan should be the ideal cool dad car. BMW has been the king of this market for decades.

In practice, though, there are often too many compromises between comfort and performance that doom the sports sedan in the eyes of buyers.

Today’s feature, a 1998 Ford Contour SVT, is a great example of this compromise. One would think that taking the best selling family sedan in the UK, adding power and a firmer suspension, and turning it loose on American enthusiasts would be a recipe for a great car.

Over two decades, however, the SVT has become an unloved old Ford, just as likely to grace a buy-here, pay-here lot as a cone-filled parking lot. I see a Contour SVT on my commute, sitting curbside with a busted rear window, dragging side skirt, and rotted exhaust, and it’s not the only one I’ve seen neglected in such a manner.

The Contour, SVT or not, wasn’t a great car simply due to compromise. It was a bit too small compared to the competition, with a cramped rear seat becoming too tight for teenagers. I owned a first-generation Focus, and felt more comfortable in the rear than the nominally-larger Contour.

There are plenty of red flags on this Contour SVT. If perfect, $6,500 might be an acceptable price, though I wouldn’t spend more than $4,000. I’m wary of the poor photographs, combined with the seller’s description of “all works” and “well maintain.” I’ve a feeling that any transaction with this particular seller will lead to headaches.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • Slingshot Slingshot on Feb 27, 2016

    I had a 2007 stripped model, no air or power windows, etc. that I bought for $9,999. I enjoyed driving it; was like a small German sports sedan. Handling was great at 80 mph. Major problems including the manual transmission. Got a $1,000 trade in when I purchased my 2002 Millenia S. My friend had the V-6 with a manual transmission and had much fewer problems.

  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Feb 28, 2016

    These were fun cars when new, but they didn't stand the test of time and quickly turn to trash.

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